5 Mar 2019

Council votes to open Cape Kidnappers after safety measures

7:12 pm on 5 March 2019

Access to Cape Kidnappers is a step closer to being re-opened, in a move the Hastings District Council is describing as balancing public safety with public access.

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Photo: Supplied / Hastings District Council

The area has been closed since last month, after two tourists were injured by a huge slip, while walking to the gannet colony.

After two-and-a-half hours of discussion, councillors today voted in favour of re-opening the stretch of beach road, once staff had investigated and implemented safety measures that will mitigate risk.

In a report prepared for today's council meeting, officials recommended the temporary closure should stay in place until the hazard risk for the whole beach between Clifton and Cape Kidnappers is assessed.

That was estimated to take six months.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazelhurst said the full risk assessment would go ahead, but after speaking to the public, experts and businesses, councillors voted to open the area sooner rather than later.

"The council voted 7-5 to mitigate any risk but re-open the beach as soon as we felt comfortable that measures have been taken to keep the community safe," she said.

She said the quantitative risk assessment would start when that work had been done and the beach re-opened.

However, Ms Hazelhurt said she could not give a timeframe on when the beach might be re-opened.

The quantitative risk analysis will be an unbudgeted council expenditure, so the chief executive will now negotiate a cost sharing agreement with relevant stake holders.

Ms Hazelhurst said a full risk assessment of the entire 7km stretch was needed, so the council could understand any future risk to the community.

Cape Kidnappers re-opening may take weeks - councillor

Some councillors were hopeful it won't be long before the area is re-opened.

"I would hope the road is open within the next few weeks, from the seven councillors who supported the re-opening they did so hoping it would be opened relatively quickly," said councillor Damon Harvey.

He said today's meeting had the largest turnout he had seen in three years.

"I would say 95 if not more percent [of locals] were in favour or wanted the track or the road to Cape Kidnappers to re-open," he said

He expected signage and education would be among the mitigation factors that would be considered.

He said the changes and the QRA were estimated to be finished by September, before the busy tourism season.

Councillor Rod Heaps hoped access would be open in a matter of days, but also thought it would likely take weeks.

"They haven't decided what they are going to put up and where and how, so that is the concern that it take take quite some time, so we don't want that to be stretched out to long," Mr Heaps said.

He said he was also concerned tourism operators would still be impacted event when the track is opened.

"Part of the tours is going to the top of Cape kidnappers, walking up to the lighthouse, but DOC have made a statement today they will keep that area closed," he said.

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