The site of the earliest coal mine in New Zealand is the subject of an appeal by Saddle View Estates, which owns a controversial quarry on Saddle Hill near Dunedin.
Last year the Environment Court held that the company had no resource consent for quarrying the hump of Saddle Hill (known locally as Jaffray’s Hill) and that the company had never had any consent at any time.
This is the latest move in a dispute which has carried on for over 50 years between Taieri County (now amalgamated with Dunedin City,) the Dunedin City Council and the quarry owners. Saddle View Estates claims the Environment Court erred in 16 of its findings and that it had not given the appropriate consideration of the evidence the company adduced in evidence before the court.
It says there is reliable documentary evidence that it does have such a consent. The company is relying heavily on a 1966 letter to
the Taieri County from its then planning officer, but this cannot now be found. A number of files were lost when the two local bodies amalgamated.
Saddle Hill is a prominent landmark overlooking the northeastern end of the Taieri Plains in Otago, New Zealand. Within the limits of Dunedin city, it is located 18 kilometres to the west of the city centre, between Mosgiel and Green Island, and is clearly visible from many of the city’s southern hill suburbs. A lookout on the northern slopes of the hill commands a good view across the plains, with Lake Waihola visible 25 kilometres to the west in clear weather. A small coal seam on the hill was exploited by early European settlers, and was mined from as early as 1849, the first coal mine in the country. Jaffray’s Hill (often wrongly called Jeffrey’s Hill, and named for the Jaffray family who owned the land from 1849 until 1937), was extensively mined for basalt gravel until the mid-1980s.