In reply to Dirk Sieling’s comments on “getting my facts right” on the Spat Farm details:-
1. With reference to public notifi cation - Despite the fact that they were seeking to use public space for private commercial gain, the Applicants stated that “public involvement is not warranted from either a public interest or information perspective” and they sought not to have to notify the public. The WRC insisted on formal public notifi cation, although this consisted of just one tiny advertisement in the pages of the local free weekly paper - The Mercury Bay Informer. It wasn’t until TV One was notifi ed and broadcast it on Seven Sharp less than 24 hours before the closing time for submissions that people became aware of the Resource Consent Application. In that time 204 submissions were made - 197 in opposition to the proposal.
2. Waikato Regional Council are responsible for issuing all Resource Consents. However, all local bodies have district plans, coastal plans, regional policy statements in which assessments are made of natural character and landscape and designations such as High or Outstanding Natural Character of features and landscapes to help protect them from adverse eff ects. This is Mayor Len’s territory and as an “interested party” he has every right to stand up and speak out on this issue.
3. Yes, I grant that there can be big swells in the Firth of Thames with weather from a particular quarter. A very diff erent wave action to that which we see on the east coast where there is nothing between us and Chile to calm what can be a very savage and dangerous sea.
4. The mussel farms in the open ocean have infrastructure specifi cally designed for that environment. When the spat farm application was lodged the applicants should have provided detailed and accurate plans of the proposed structure instead of so little information that engineers were unable to assess its robustness and suitability for conditions likely to be experienced at the site.
5. Biosecurity. Dirk’s statement that “any structure in the water attracts fi sh and marine life, thus increasing biodiversity to an extent that will outweigh any negative environmental eff ects” is ‘misinformed.’ Dr Kate James, from an Auckland University study commissioned by WRC stated “There is grave potential for pest organisms to become established in the ideal conditions for them at the spat farm and, from that “reservoir” spread to the rest of the Bay. In particular, a fast growing, invasive seaweed (the gorse of the sea) undaria, can change the entire structure of marine ecosystems, and has the potential to to displace native species of seaweed and disrupt the habitat for native species such as paua, scallops and mussels. It could spread by drift of microspores or on detritus from the spat farm the few kilometres across the Bay to the Whanganui a Hei Marine Reserve. Sabella or Mediterranean Fan Worm is another dangerous pest which can also smother native species as well as damaging boat motors.
The Applicants’ expert, Carina Sim-Smith also agreed that the spat farm will potentially provide a reservoir for pest populations and act as a stepping stone for their spread.
This is a direct threat to our internationally acclaimed and valued tourist attraction Te Whanganui A Hei Marine Reserve.
I do not have the room here to cover the signifi cantly adverse aff ect on local marine mammals and birds, other than to briefl y state, “The spat farm is in an internationally designated IBA (Important Bird Area). Orcas, dolphins, fur seals and whales are seen in this area and their foraging, resting and nursery areas and migration routes will be impacted by a spat farm. Noise levels both above and below sea level are a signifi cant issue for wildlife as well as people.” I rest my case.
Regulations hold up road clearances
This week we have once again seen sterling work being done to clear slips on our roads by hard working staff from Waka Kotahi and TCDC. However, these vital roads have been kept closed for much longer than necessary due to the ridiculous regulations preventing the dumping of material onto the foreshore on the Thames Coast or directly over the bank in other locations. Instead hundreds of truck loads are carted many kilometres to an ‘approved’ site adding huge costs and delays to the work being undertaken, not to mention the extra carbon footprint for those who are worried about such matters. Perhaps someone from council or Waka Kotahi could clarify, but I understand that much of the coast road material usually gets trucked as far as Matatoki to the south or up to near Coromandel Town to the north, instead of just being sensibly pushed over the edge of the road as was routinely done in the past.
There is no reason why material that has fallen and had the bad luck to stop on a road should be treated any diff erently from that which has naturally been brought down by a slip to be left where it lies either on the foreshore or over a bank. Material ending up on the beach or in a gully will be effi ciently dealt with by the sea or vegetation in a remarkably short time at no cost just as it has for millions of years. I know there are regulations that are being followed by the contractors but surely a ‘State of Emergency’ should allow a more sensible solution to be employed.
Perhaps a cost/benefit analysis needs to be done as these unnecessary bureaucratic delays in getting vital access roads opened up seriously aff ect the many businesses that critically rely on visitors to our region; not to mention the locals who need these roads to attend medical or other appointments by the shortest route possible.
What is going on?
It was with great concern that as a state of emergency was declared for the Coromandel Peninsula on Friday, that Mayor Len, via the media, advised potential visitors to stay away from the district. This discouragement seems to have been totally unnecessary and very damaging to the local economy. Surely a "take alternate routes, expect delays and drive with care" would have been a better response. We have observed our Council and Central Government continue to issue consents for subdivisions, buildings and growth, and tourism expansion, much of which was planned decades ago, yet they have neglected our infrastructure and roading. We have water treatment issues, water supply issues, one lane bridges, inferior roading and maintenance, a grass runway, massive beachfront erosion, to name a few. Endless use of OUR taxpayer dollars with little or nothing to show other than relentless dialogue, meetings and election promises. We are wanting to know what is going on and for how long the lack of accountability will last.