23 MARCH, 1998
Hon John Luxton, the Minister of Lands, announced today that the ultimate decision on the Riverton bridge lies with the Southland Regional Council and the local community.
This follows the Minister's agreement to Land Information New Zealand reactivating a resource consent application to remove the Riverton Rail Bridge and causeway with the Southland Regional Council.
"The bridge is located at Riverton in Southland. It was constructed in 1904. In 1978 it became surplus to railway requirements and has not been maintained since 1977. Since then, wave action and tidal currents have eroded the central causeway and the bridge is considered a potential hazard to public safety." Mr Luxton said today.
Because of public safety concerns, the Southland District Council (SDC) requested in 1994 that the former Department of Survey and Land Information, who managed the property on behalf of the Crown, to either upgrade or remove the bridge.
The Department of Survey and Land Information lodged an application with the Southland Regional Council for a resource consent to remove the bridge. As a result of the public notification of the application, a meeting of representatives of the SDC, Riverton Community Board, Department of Conservation, Riverton Heritage Group (RHG) and Land Information New Zealand established that apart from the Riverton Heritage Group, none of the agencies represented wanted to be involved in the future ownership or management of the bridge. Subsequently, RHG submitted a proposal to take over ownership of the bridge to Land Information New Zealand (the successor to the Department of Survey and Land Information) for consideration.
"I have considered the options for retaining or removing the bridge and decided that the RHG proposal does not provide the best outcome overall for the community and the Crown". Mr Luxton said.
"I consider the best option is to proceed with the resource consent to remove the bridge. Once the application is reactivated, I understand that the Southland Regional Council will notify the interested parties in the community and call a public hearing if they consider one is required. The ultimate decision on the Riverton bridge lies with the Southland Regional Council and the local community." Mr Luxton concluded.