Spoil disposal decision reserved

Port Otago’s dredge New Era heads seaward, below Taiaroa Head. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Port Otago’s dredge New Era heads seaward, below Taiaroa Head. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Enviromental concerns, including about a nationally recognised surf break at Aramoana, were highlighted yesterday during a consent hearing into Port Otago's proposed plans to dispose of future dredging spoil.

Hugh Leersnyder.
Hugh Leersnyder.

The second phase of Port Otago's $30 million ''Next Generation'' dredging  project, to widen and deepen the 13km shipping channel between Taiaroa Head and Port Chalmers, is under way.

The company says active maintenance dredging must continue to protect earlier gains.

Resource consent panel chairman Dr Brent Cowie yesterday adjourned the Dunedin hearing on its second day.

Barrister Len Andersen summed up the company's position and will later make written submissions.

The panel has reserved its decision.

Mr Andersen said he assumed the key issue was determining the exact nature of relevant conditions, rather than if the consent itself would be granted.

The panel comprises Dr Cowie and Hugh Leersnyder.

The port company is seeking a new 25-year consent term to ''use optimum inshore disposal grounds'' for the spoil, Mr Andersen said earlier.

Extensive modelling showed there would be no adverse environmental effects, including on surf breaks and the sea-bottom biological community, he said.

Submitting for South Coast Boardriders Inc, Roderick Rust said that group's participation in a working party, which included Port Otago, had been ''positive and constructive''.

''And we very much appreciate the goodwill that has been generated in this process.''

Mr Rust said the proposed ''knowledge-based assessment'' was the ''only suitable way forward'' for disposing of the spoil.

But he took issue with some recently proposed wording about disposal limits at Heyward Point, saying it was ''sloppily worded and confusing''.

This did not clarify that the 300,000cu m annual maximum volume for this area was permitted only in ''exceptional circumstances''.

An Otago Regional Council representative later apologised to the hearing and said a typographical error, involving one of the numbers, had since been corrected.

Mr Rust said the interest in the surf breaks at Aramoana and at Whareakeake by the national Surfbreak Protection Society had highlighted their national importance.

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu mahinga kai principal scientist Dr Daniel Pritchard suggested proposed overall monitoring could be combined into an integrated environmental management plan for both rocky reef and soft sediment biological communities.

He supported developing a revised technical advisory group.

Timothy Vial, principal planner at environmental consultancy Kai Tahu ki Otago Ltd,

yesterday made further comments, on behalf of Te Runanga o Otakou and Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki.

Mr Vial also supported developing an integrated environmental management plan and annual ecological monitoring for five years.



For those of us just new or returning to Dunedin, it would be great is a map could be shown of where the 'Spoil disposal' will happen. Having said that, it is great to see it being openly discussed not like Delta goings on.