Hastings councillor Damon Harvey has called upon the Department of Conservation (DoC) to "stop dicking us around" and open its walking track to the head of Cape Kidnappers.
DoC and Hastings District Council commissioned a Quantitative Risk Analysis (QRA) to assess the risk levels along the track after two Korean tourists were injured in a landslide from the cliffs towering over Clifton Beach in January 2019.
The QRA was due to be completed by October but DoC says it remains in draft form and further work is needed to determine the level of risk to people travelling along the beach.
Hastings District Council opened Clifton Beach in June, but DoC refused to do the same with its track to the famous gannet colony in the upper reaches of the Cape until it had gone over the findings of the risk assessment.
Harvey, who is in his second term as a councillor, says in Hawke's Bay Today Talking Point :
"Don't dick us around Department of Conservation. It's time to reopen the last bit of the track to the upper gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers."
According to Harvey, the report found the risk of fatality from travelling along the beach to Cape Kidnappers is somewhere between going white water rafting to playing golf, depending on how you get there and how you manage your risk.
"If you go to the Cape with Gannet Beach Adventures the risk for passengers [of death] is put at 1 in 100,000,000, the same as playing golf or cricket," he said.
"It's time the bureaucrats at DoC stopped being the fun police. Come on DoC ... at least allow an experienced operator to access the last part of the track, so that tourists can enjoy a truly unique experience."
Harvey added: "Visiting the Cape does come with risk and it's best to go with local guides that observe the ever changing environment on a daily basis."
DoC Hawke's Bay Operations Manager Jenny Nelson-Smith said the QRA which Harvey was quoting from was only in a "draft" format and did not provide the full picture.
"The report shows that the landslide hazards that exist are serious, highly difficult to predict, and have the possibility of fatalities for people travelling along the beach."
Nelson-Smith said the independent review will ensure the technical analysis has been completed using best practice approaches, and will give DoC and HDC confidence in the results.
"Only at that point will we be comfortable to make a decision whether or not to reopen the track, and if so, under what conditions," she said.
"DoC's decisions need to be informed by the best information that can be provided, so the risks need to be understood so appropriate management actions can be taken."
Owner of Gannet Beach Adventures Colin Lindsay told Hawke's Bay Today in late December he was disappointed the Gannet Reserve remains closed over what is his peak season.
He's begun taking tourists along the beach again, but they can't access the track, instead heading to Black Reef at the end of the beach, where a colony can also be found.
Harvey added: "The ongoing closure continues to have a huge impact on the livelihoods of the owners of Gannet Beach Adventures, as well as other businesses in the area.
"For many locals, including the owners of long established business Gannet Beach Adventures, the risk of slips has always been there but local knowledge built up over many years has ensured that incidents involving passengers have been negated."