Fairway Bay aims to improve rifle range

The Army has a new and improved rifle range within its sights thanks to a local developer.

In an innovative solution to a problem, Fairway Bay developers Top Harbour has reached an agreement in principle with the NZ Defence Force to reconstruct a rifle range at the Army Bay training base.

Fairway Bay is expected to generate approximately 10,000m3 of surplus clean fill as part of the next stage of its development. Using this to improve the Army’s rifle range is “a win-win situation” according to Top Harbour development consultant Michael Webb-Speight.

He says there are constraints on the use of the Defence Force’s existing rifle range, particularly due to the popularity of a fishing spot in the safety zone – the range can’t be used when there are boats within the safety exclusion zone.

While the details are still being finalised, Mr Webb-Speight says the idea is to use the excess material to change the geometry of the rifle range, improving its safety characteristics. The changes will make the exclusion zone smaller so that there will be more days when shooting practice can take place.

“Opportunities like this do not come along very often”, Mr Webb-Speight says. “It is truly a win-win situation – where Defence get the benefit of an improved training facility at no cost, and we get to safely dispose of surplus material without upsetting the residents along the peninsula.”

Fairway Bay will pay all the costs of obtaining the relevant consents and doing the work, which is expected to take place over summer. Mr Webb-Speight says that he expects that this will be less expensive than it would have been to move the material off the peninsula – in addition, it will significantly reduce the traffic effects of truck movements on Whangaparaoa Road and through Silverdale.

He says Top Harbour did something similar a few years ago, using fill to make a new driving range at Gulf Harbour Country Club.

Rodney MP and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell, who has been consulted on the plan, says he is pleased that a practical common-sense solution has been found, with clear benefits for all parties.

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