Craggy Range Winery has responded to claims that it had colluded with Hastings District Council to "pre-approve" resource consent for the controversial Te Mata Peak walking track.

Hawke's Bay Today columnist Bruce Bissett said in his opinion piece "Let me spell it out for you" about the track in Hawke's Bay Today yesterday "there was (because of the need to buy the land), I believe, collusion between council and winery for this project to be approved".

Craggy Range Winery chief executive Michael Wilding responded to the statement by saying "this is categorically incorrect".

"Mr Bissett claims we bought the land prior to receiving consent, therefore we must have known consent would be certain," he said.

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"What he failed to bother finding out is that our sale and purchase agreement was, in fact, conditional on receiving resource consent.

"Furthermore, allegations of local government corruption are incredibly serious, so the facts should be obtained before drawing the wrong conclusion that has the potential to seriously mislead the community."

Craggy Range's track cut into the eastern face of Te Mata Peak. Photo/File
Craggy Range's track cut into the eastern face of Te Mata Peak. Photo/File

The $300,000 walking track was due to open early this year, however, after public outcry the winery announced in December it would remove the 2.4km trail.

Following this there was an outpouring of support for the track, with hordes taking the opportunity to walk the path.

However, Craggy Range said it was committed to its decision to restore the track and will apply for resource consent for the remediation work in February and hoped to start removing the track in autumn.

Two petitions were created about the track with one opposing it receiving more than 6500 signatures and the other wanting to save it being signed by more than 11900 people.

Earlier this month it was announced that stakeholders would explore the possibility of an alternative track on the eastern face of Te Mata Peak.

In 1996 council created a special character zone to protect the unique landscape at the foothills of Te Mata Peak - the first of its kind in New Zealand.