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Proposed chairlift at The Remarkables unlikely to open before winter season begins

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Mountain Technology, is reporting that NZSki, which owns three ski resorts in New Zealand, is facing significant difficulties in getting approval for a new chairlift at The Remarkables in Queenstown.

The chairlift, a Doppelmayr six-seater, is intended to replace the resort’s four-seater Sugar Basin lift; however NZSki is yet to receive approval from the Department of Conservation (DOC), making it increasingly unlikely the NZ$16 million project will be complete before The Remarkables begins its winter season on 8 June.

NZSki’s Chief Executive, Paul Anderson, said he was "bitterly disappointed" the application had not been processed in time by the DOC to meet the company's Monday deadline to begin construction, noting that consent was also required from Queenstown Lakes District Council and Otago Regional Council.

Conservationists have voiced concern about the possible effects a new chairlift will have on flora and fauna on DOC land.

Anderson said: "Our application went in on 2 August [2018] but it was 13 weeks later when DOC came back and said the process would be changed and it would be publicly notified."

The company then completed an extensive application, with 20 people submitting in favour of it and five against it, he said.

DOC southern South Island Operations Director, Aaron Fleming, said the department was anticipating making a decision by the end of January, and denied Anderson’s claim of a 13-week delay.

"DOC received NZSki's formal application on 2 August and from there underwent due process in assessing whether the application met the threshold for notification. During this time there was communication with the applicant. We do acknowledge a two-week delay at the beginning of the process, which was communicated with NZSki."

He acknowledged earlier verbal discussions with the company and said NZSki indicated the work could be below the threshold for notification.

"However no official advice was given until a detailed written application was submitted. Once this was received and assessed by DOC it was apparent notification would be required," Fleming said.

This was because a lease was required for the chairlift's top station and also due to the scale and nature of the earthworks required for trail construction.

Fleming added: "DOC cannot rush applications – we work with applicants to ensure they're aware of timeframes and statutory requirements. It was NZSki's decision to take on the commercial risk of ordering the chairlift and marketing the chairlift and ski trail to its customers before completing the approval process."

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