4 Feb 2014

Flyover's environmental impact feared

10:19 pm on 4 February 2014

Opponents to a controversial flyover in Wellington say it will have a significant impact on the environment that can't be mitigated and adequate consideration hasn't been given to given to alternative options which would give the same benefits.

An artist's impression of the proposed Basin Reserve flyover.

An artist's impression of the proposed Basin Reserve flyover. Photo: NZTA

A lawyer representing groups opposed to the project, Tom Bennion, on Tuesday opened his case to an independent panel deciding whether to grant consent for the $90 million project.

Mr Bennion said the area is nationally historic and plans to erect a new building on the Basin Reserve will damage the area rather than enhance it.

Opponents fear the construction process and bridge will create a distraction disrupting domestic and international cricket matches. They are concerned the project will shade the ground, making the games colder and less enjoyable to watch.

The New Zealand Transport Agency told the panel the impact on the cricket ground would be minor if the flyover bridge goes ahead.

The agency agreed that traffic on the bridge could distract players, but said it could mitigate this with a new building between the R A Vance stand and the toilet block. This would screen the batsman's view of the bridge and provide new facilities for players and match officials.

The NZTA also believed the flyover would not worsen wind conditions for cyclists, pedestrians or vehicles. It agreed that while the bridge would expose people to high winds, conditions would be similar to those experienced on the road around the capital's waterfront.

The agency admitted it did not know what the aerodynamic impact would be from a new building it is proposing at the cricket ground, but its lawyer Andrew Cameron said wind tunnel testing was not necessary.

"This conclusion is supported by the authors of the second Section 42a planning report who note that they consider unlikely that wind tunnel testing would be necessary to have comfort that the northern gateway building will be consistent with the relevant plan provisions."

Earlier, the Historic Places Trust lent its support to the project, providing that certain conditions were met. This included a new building on the Basin Reserve which it said would act as a screen.

Some 215 submissions have been received over the flyover. An independent panel is expected to release its draft report on 17 April 2014 and a final report by June.