Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) has proposed a new amendment to the Navigational Safety Bylaw 2018 which bans powered vessels on the Clutha River from Lake Wanaka to the Albert Town bridge from December 1st to March 31st each year. Commercial jet boats with existing resource consents will still be allowed in this section of the river. The new bylaw also removes all speed and time restrictions below the Albert Town Bridge (see full amendment here).
If you support a ban on powered craft on the Upper Clutha, it is imperative you SUBMIT to council in favour of this bylaw amendment. The submission process takes only a few seconds. There is an optional space to explain your stance and make further recommendations (see suggestions below). Submissions close August 31st.
Last year many individuals and organisations, including the Albert Town Community Association (ATCA), expressed their safety concerns regarding the large number of passive river users (kayakers, rafters, paddle boarders, swimmers, fishers, etc..) sharing the river with jet boats and jet skis. QLDC’s amendment to remove powered craft on the Upper Clutha is a step in the right direction to remedy this dangerous situation.
However, the ATCA does have concerns around the proposed open speed limit for powered craft downstream of the Albert Town bridge. We disagree with this arbitrary split of Albert Town at the bridge (keeping in mind this is only an additional half kilometre of the 338km Clutha River). Albert Town residents downstream of the bridge should also be entitled to safe passive use of the Clutha River and not be subjected to the noise pollution jet boats and jet skis generate.
Therefore, the ATCA encourages you in your submission to suggest a reduced speed limit and restrictions on manoeuvres such as 'hamilton turns' or 'donuts' downstream of the bridge to the most downstream Albert Town resident. We also feel commercial boats should not operate under a different set of safety rules. We would ask commercial operators to voluntarily abide by the new bylaw or we would ask council to amend the resource consents at an annual review to better reflect the new bylaw.
In past submissions many people voiced concerns about environmental issues associated with increased boat traffic including erosion, disturbance of bird and aquatic life, and the loss of peace and tranquility along the river. This amendment is solely focused on safety. However, the removal of powered vessels from this ecologically valuable stretch of the Clutha River better adheres to the District plan which clearly states that powered vessels are incompatibly with this section of the Clutha River (4-44).