ONTRACK will now make the final decision on whether its branch railway line from Waiareka through Weston will reopen.
A Waitaki District Council independent commissioner Allan Cubitt has recommended Ontrack redesignate the railway line, a vital part of Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd’s plans to build a $300m cement plant at Weston.
The line would be used by Holcim during construction of the plant and then to transport cement in bulk to Timaru for shipping.
The track was closed in 1997 and the lines lifted in 1999, but its owner, the then New Zealand Railways, retained ownership in case it was ever needed.
However, when the Waitaki district plan was reviewed in 1993, the designation was not properly recorded. Ontrack needed to have it redesignated before it could be used.
Because Ontrack is a requiring authority under the Resource Management Act, it requested the council to designate the branch line. But as a requiring authority, Ontrack gets to make the final decision.