Locals angry at Rena owners

A group fighting for reimbursement after the Rena disaster says the application to leave the wreck on the reef is a "big middle finger up" to the Bay community.

The owners of the Rena this week announced they will lodge an application to leave the wreck on the seabed by May this year.

The move has dismayed many of the Bay's leaders, business people and community members who say it would be an awful legacy for the region.

Those who cleaned up in the days after the disaster and people still fighting for compensation said the Rena's owners had been "ducking and diving".

They were calling for the Government to "stand up" and force the full removal of Rena.

Mount Maunganui man Dominico Zapata, who helped with the clean-up, said the cost of the legal battle would impact on the community.

"They are just dragging the community through the whole legal process which just costs the community again. They are rubbing our nose in it," he said.

Mr Zapata said he would be voicing his opinion through the submission process.

"We've got to get behind our mayor and our community leaders that are taking charge on this and back them up and make sure we get an outcome that suits the community."

Independent MP Brendan Horan said he was not surprised to hear the owners would be applying for consent to leave the Rena on the reef as he first warned in Parliament of the owners' intentions on July 2, 2013. "What needs to happen today is for National to get into the real world and stand up for New Zealand by committing to require the complete removal of the wreck by the owners, even if it means pursuing them through courts around the world."

Nevan Lancaster, of the Rena Business Compensation Group, told the Bay of Plenty Times their legal costs had hit the half-million dollar mark as they fought for compensation.

"The application to leave the Rena on the reef is just another big middle finger up to the community," he said.

"The law explicitly says it must be removed, so why is any of it still there?"

Bay of Plenty Regional Council chairman Doug Leeder said the announcement was disappointing but there was a long process to go through before a decision was reached.

"The regional council will be making a submission. There are points for and points against in terms of removing it. I would think it will ultimately get down to the technical feasibility," he said.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said if resource consent was granted it would be appropriate that the taxpayers of New Zealand should benefit from the savings to the owners and insurers as a result.

Mr Brownlee said the Government was focused on ensuring the grounding of the Rena had the least possible environmental effects and one of those considerations included the damage salvage efforts would have.

Director of Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) Keith Manch said he believed the insurers had done everything possible to get the wreck to its current state.

Rena Spokesperson Hugo Shanahan could not be contacted last night however an email sent to the Bay of Plenty Times earlier this week said the application would include an assessment of environmental effects.

It said it would provide interested parties with a comprehensive body of information on the proposal for the future of the wreck, including environmental monitoring, wreck access and shore management.

- Amy McGillivray and Natalie Dixon

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