ATCA Submission on Go Jets Wanaka – Albert Town Ramp Licence

The Albert Town Community Association opposes the Go Jets Wanaka proposed new licence. Furthermore, we strongly oppose the granting of a 5-year licence. 

The noise, environmental degradation and danger associated with the rapidly increasing commercial jet boat traffic in Albert Town (both above and below the bridge) is a serious concern for our community. We have not had a chance to engage the Albert Town community on this issue and we are unclear as to how this licence might further exasperate this problem.

We ask that you postpone this decision until after the new Navigational Safety Bylaw 2018 is passed and issue this licence in accordance with a larger plan that includes the Albert Town Recreational Reserve Management Plan and District Plan. We need time and clarity on this issue to better inform our community.

Access to the river via the Albert Town Recreational Reserve and the activities on the river that this access enables cannot be treated as mutually exclusive as stated in APL's application document (dated 5/2/2018 under heading Submission Process, Para 2). Put simply, by granting Go Jets a licence to operate from the Recreation Reserve, QLDC cannot then disassociate or ignore the impact that this operation has on the Reserve. Once on the river, this commercial activity does adversely impact the Albert Town Recreational Reserve with noise and shoreline damage. This can already be seen immediately downstream of the launch ramp where the boats dig their bows into the bank for embarking and disembarking passengers. Significant erosion due to commercial jet boats performing rapid turns next to shore can also be clearly seen in the Albert Town Recreational Reserve just upstream from the Albert Town campground.

The Albert Town Recreational Reserve is an increasingly important asset to the community. It is used extensively for swimming, fishing, camping and picnicking, providing an area of peace and enjoyment as the urbanisation of the area continues. This licence runs contrary to the reserve management plan as well as the district plan which discusses this area of the Clutha River in depth.

Albert Town Reserve Recreational Management Plan
11.1 Commercial activities are not generally consistent with the values of reserves, and the impact needs to be carefully managed and confined to more appropriate spaces.

For this reason, the Jet Sprint Course was removed, as it was "not compatible with the quiet values of the reserve." [Policy 14 Reserve Management Plan]

See Operative District Plan: 4-44, 4-42 i(c), 4-43, 4-41 10, 4-38, 4-42i, 4-26 3.1, 4-41 5

The application also states that during the months of December 2017 to March 2018 (duration of the temporary permit) no complaints or issues have arisen. There have been complaints about commercial use of the boat ramp. However, we are unclear when commercial operators began officially or unofficially using the boat ramp and we not sure when the complaints took place. 

This brings up the larger issue on the responsibilities of the QLDC and the Harbour Master to record and report maritime accidents, incidents and complaints. The ATCA is currently seeking clarification on this documentation process which was brought to light during the Navigational Safety Bylaw hearing. This issue would need to be rectified before we can move forward with accurate information.

As stated in QLDC's public notification of Go Jet's licence application, QLDC is predisposed to granting a licence regardless of any opposition to the contrary. That being the case, the Albert Town Community Association contends that any licence granted should be temporary and definitely not for 5 years. It would be inappropriate to issue a renewable 5-year licence to any commercial jet boat operator given the rapid growth in residents and visitors to the Wanaka area. As with so many infrastructural and environmental concerns currently being raised by such growth, Council would be wise to not commit to a 5 year licence, the consequences of which may be unforeseen. This issue is demanding of much more consideration. The other compelling argument for granting a limited or temporary licence to Go Jets is that later this year Council will be addressing the wider issue of access and speed limits to powered vessels on the Clutha River (Outlet to Red Bridge). The outcome of possible revisions to the Navigation Safety Bylaw 2018 could well impact the granting of a licence to operate from the Albert Town Recreation Reserve. Council have a duty to act responsibly on this issue by retaining the status quo, that is a temporary licence, until possible changes to the Navigation Safety Bylaw are known.

In conclusion, the Albert Town Community Association strongly encourages QLDC to postpone any decision to grant Go Jets' application for a 5-year licence to operate from the Albert Town Recreation Reserve. Instead, we recommended some form of temporary licence be granted until the outcome of possible changes to Navigation Safety Bylaw 2018 are known and we have a better and more informed understanding of how this licence application, and other possible licence applications fit with an overall long-term plan for Albert Town. This long-term plan will include the Albert Town Recreation Reserve Management Plan, the District Plan and the 10 Year Plan.