An Environment Court battle over Port Otago's proposal to
continue depositing dredging material at Aramoana, Heyward
Point and Shelley Beach has been avoided.
Independent commissioners granted the port three-year
consents for deposit-ing material in July after a hearing
earlier this year in which the Surfbreak Protection Society
was the main submitter against the application.
The society then appealed the decision to the Environment
Court saying it failed to properly consider relevant policies
of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement which protected
surf breaks of national significance, including the Spit and
Port Otago chief executive Geoff Plunket said court-ordered
mediation this month was very productive with both parties
coming to a consensus on consent conditions.
The society would be part of a working party which had input
into a work programme over the next three years to ensure
depositing material did not have any environmental impact,
particularly on surf breaks.
Society president Paul Shanks said although near-shore
disposal had occurred since the mid-1980s at the Spit, and
since early last century at the deeper Heyward site, there
were concerns and anecdotal evidence that both disposal sites
had negative impacts on the two nationally significant
surfing breaks of Aramoana and Whareakeake. Society scientist
Dr Shaw Mead was satisfied there was now a baseline from
which to observe the quality of surfing at these breaks.
''If you haven't quantified the quality of the surfing waves
at the breaks, how do you know if it has changed, how do you
set limits and trigger values to address impacts, and if you
do measure a change, how do you link it back to the
Mr Shanks said the monitoring plan agreed to by the society
and Port Otago would address those concerns''It was always
evident that Port Otago genuinely wanted to avoid adverse
effects on the surf breaks; it was just a matter of defining
the correct methodology.''
The agreement was a significant template to measure other
surf breaks of national significance in the coastal policy
statement such as the Whangamata Bar.
Port Otago received consents to dredge the harbour channel
and deposit material at an off-shore site as part of its Next
Generation Plan in 2011. It was also appealed but it went to
an Environment Court hearing before being settled.