Island complex to be Blake Station

The new research station to be built on the environmentally protected Auckland Islands, 465km south of Bluff, will be named after the late Sir Peter Blake.

''It is entirely appropriate this proposed new station be named the Blake Station given Sir Peter Blake's lifelong commitment to the cause of marine conservation,'' Conservation Minister Nick Smith said this week.

The Otago Daily Times reported this week fundraising for the $3 million station on the east coast of the main island would begin this year.

It is hoped the station will help scientists gain a better understanding of the likely impact of climate change.

Sir Peter Blake Trust chief executive Shelley Campbell said all New Zealanders would have a connection to the ''critical'' research base, through its identity as Blake Station and association with one of New Zealand's most highly regarded citizens.

In later life, Sir Peter had launched Blake Expeditions, with the intention of increasing education and awareness about the fragility of the global marine environment.

During his sailing career, Sir Peter began to notice significant environmental changes, particularly in what he called ''hot spots,'' such as the Southern Ocean, with the area's marine health having a significant impact on the rest of the planet.

Further details on the project released this week showed Blake Station would consist of a floating jetty at the head of Smiths Harbour, two accommodation blocks for long-term stays, one block for short-term stays for up to 14 people, a block for two wet labs and a boat shed.

As the island was a national nature reserve and World Heritage Area, the proposed station would require a nature reserve permit, a resource consent and a building consent, which would be assessed by the Department of Conservation.

The most complex issue was the design of the wastewater and sewage disposal system in a very cold climate and pristine environment, he said.

Doc expected the permit and consent applications to be lodged soon, with construction to begin next summer.

As well as meeting the Government's Deep South science challenge goals relating to understanding the Southern Ocean, it would also have benefits for Doc as it worked towards the Government's goal of pest-free subantarctic islands, Dr Smith said. Doc does not have a permanent base on the islands at present.

''The research station would reduce the costs and improve the chances of success in this ambitious project.''

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

 

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