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Consent granted for variation to log yard monitoring

MAORI groups are “bitterly disappointed” that Eastland Port has been granted variations to a resource consent for the monitoring of water quality around its southern log yard, and say the potential for pollution is unacceptable.

A reserved decision from independent commissioner Peter Callender grants the company’s application for the variation to the four conditions to the company’s discharge consent, subject to a number of conditions.

Eastland Port general manager Andrew Gaddum says the decision now aligns the port’s southern log yard consents with recognised Australasian standards and the underlying intent of the Resource Management Act, “striking the right balance between environmental outcomes and the need to pragmatically operate an important community-owned regional asset”.

However, Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa and Ngati Oneone spokesman Ian Ruru says Maori are “bitterly disappointed” with the decision to relax Eastland Port’s pollution levels.

“Mixing zones and dilution levels have increased in spite of our pleas for the opposite,” he says of water quality around the inner harbour.

“The fundamental problem is the abuse of the term ‘reasonable mixing zones’ as that was written in the RMA in 1991.

“Back in 1991 it was reasonable to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. Our community no longer finds that reasonable and nor do we find polluting Kaiti Beach to save a few dollars reasonable, either. We remain steadfast that dilution is not the solution to pollution.”

Claims of water quality damageAt the hearing in May at which the company sought variations to the consent, iwi claimed that the log yards were affecting water quality and aquatic life.

Speaking then on behalf of Te Runanga o Turanganui-a-Kiwa and Ngati Oneone, Mr Ruru accused the company of a “history of broken promises” and said they were trying to shift the goalposts.

In response, consultants for the company said there was no firm evidence of a decline in aquatic life and not all the contaminants found in the stormwater had originated from the port.

In his decision to grant the four variations, Mr Callender said he was satisfied that the variation to the conditions would serve the sustainable management purpose of the Resource Management Act.

In particular, it would serve the sustainable management purpose of the Act better than declining the application.

Summarising the reasons for his decision, he said the varied conditions corrected errors in the wording of condition nine of the consent, so they would correctly represent the Regional Coastal Environment Plan.

The new conditions provided a clearer indication of discharge points and allowed for a mixing zone, as specified in the Act and the regional coastal environment plan, he said.

They also set trigger levels more closely related to the effects on the receiving environment; provided an opportunity for more relevant trigger levels to be set in future based on the results of detailed monitoring; and encouraged the implementation of corrective actions if trigger levels were exceeded.

Gisborne Herald file picture