The Department of Conservation won’t appeal Environmental Protection Authority decision allowing dredged material to be dumped east of Great Barrier Island

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Auckland’s Westhaven Marina.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) says it won’t appeal a recent decision to allow Coastal Resources Ltd to dump dredged material off shore near Great Barrier Island.

The Environmental Protection Authority’s decision making committee held a hearing on the application on January 17 and released its final decision approving the consent on February 14.

DOC planning permissions and land director Marie Long said any appeal must be on points of law and the department doesn’t believe there are grounds for such action.

“While the Department opposed the granting of the application, DOC officers had a significant impact leading up to and during the hearing and the conditions negotiated by the parties and generally adopted by the Decision Making Committee provide a great deal more certainty and safeguards.” 

Long says if the sediment from dumping the material becomes a problem, Coastal Resources Ltd will most likely “be in breach of its operating standards, and therefore its marine consent”.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) decision now gives the company the all clear to dump 250,000 m3 of marine sludge a year dredged from Auckland Harbour for the next 35 years in a spot 25 kilometres east of Great Barrier Island.

CRL applied for the resource consent last year to dispose of the material. The company says the dredging work is to improve some of the city’s marinas and accommodate the next America’s Cup, as well as potentially for the Ports of Auckland (POAL) to allow bigger vessels to access the harbour.

The company commissioned an economic assessment report for the application by Property Economics. It said the parties that will benefit from the consent include the Ports of Auckland, the America’s Cup Village and the Westhaven, Hobsonville Point, Gulf Harbour, Half Moon Bay and Pine Harbour Marinas.

The report also outlines the America’s Cup Village has currently lodged a consent to dredge up to 70,000m3 of material as part of the waterfront redevelopment. While the other marinas around the city mentioned in the report already have existing permits for ongoing dredging work.

DOC was strongly opposed to the proposal during the submissions process.

Its submission outlined its concerns about the adverse effects the dumping of dredged material could have on the area’s biological diversity and integrity of marine species, ecosystems, and processes in the area where it will be dumped. It said its concerns relate to the potential for the activity to have adverse effects on marine mammals, seabirds, and benthic habitat.

The final decision released by the EPA says it considered the potential adverse effects on the environment of the dumping activity in the Northern Disposal Area (NDA), as well as any impact on existing interests such as the fishing industry but it decided they would be negligible.

And the final decision does include a number of caveats. It says under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 the EPA can reconsider the application at a later date if there are adverse effects on the environment.

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