Access to the cycle track along the bank of the Clutha River near Albert Town will be temporarily open over the Christmas period.

Otago Regional Council flood repair project manager Ken Tarboton said work was continuing on repairing damage on the hillside and bank caused after the February floods.

However, work would be paused between December 23 and January 5 so holiday-goers could access the popular lower track during that time.

Between April and September this year there was 3m of diagonal movement down the hillside towards the river so the council decided to proceed with repairs under emergency provisions in advance of resource consent applications, Mr Tarboton said.

‘‘The consent application is under way, but the works are being done as emergency works just because of that ongoing movement.’’

About 2000cu m of rock imported from the Lindis Valley had been placed, following a computer-modelled plan.

At the end of the excavator arm was a global positioning system unit that enabled the operator to place each rock up to 14m deep on the river bed at a specific location and elevation.

A boulder apron along the riverbank was being created which increased the ‘‘roughness’’ of the river flow.

The aim was to increase the friction on the south side of the river, moving the flow of the water away from the south bank and further towards the centre of the river.

However, one local resident was not happy with the work.

Alan Cutler lives at the top of the terrace above the river.

He was a landscape architect who worked in Christchurch and Queenstown and was concerned the emergency works process had prevented the normal level of consultation that would be required for a project of this scale.

He believed the emergency work was entirely focused on bank protection and was short-circuiting good design of an area that was an outstanding natural feature, he said.

Otago Regional Council engineering manager Michelle Mifflin said it was essential for the works to be undertaken under the emergency works provisions of the Resource Management Act due to the ongoing slipping of the steep scarp slope that was exacerbating collapse of the damaged rock buttress into the river.

The design was not changing the river form and a modified (stabilised) scarp slope and rock lining that protects the riverbank and slope from erosion and possible collapse had been in place for about 10 years.

A three-year project to replant with native vegetation in conjunction with the Queenstown Lakes District Council would ensure the natural aspect of the landscape was maintained, she said.



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