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Green light for harbour works

Benefits to the wider Gisborne community are the independent commissioners’ reason for granting a package of resource consent applications by Eastland Port.

Subject to a number of conditions, the port has a group of consents granted to redevelop wharves six and seven, with associated dredging works, and to demolish the slipway in the harbour basin.

The written decision of the three independent commissioners follows hearings in May at which the applications were opposed by iwi groups, residents of apartment buildings across the river and the Gisborne Rail Group.

The commissioners say there are significant positive effects from the proposals.

“The slipway is a derelict structure that if not either reconstructed or demolished, will start falling to bits. Demolishing it will avoid such future adverse effects,” they said.

Wharves six and seven looked robust but when viewed from a boat beneath, it was clear they were reaching the end of their serviceable life.

“While they may last some years, we think it is essential they are replaced soon so the safety of people and vehicles using the wharves is not put in jeopardy.

“This is one significant positive effect. The other is that by allowing the tug to berth at wharf six, Eastland Port will be able to significantly increase its capacity for wharves seven and eight.

“Similarly, it could allow wharf eight to be reconstructed to handle container vessels, which is desirable given the increased horticultural activities in the district.

“These positive effects will flow through to the wider community of the Gisborne district,” the decision says.

A number of significant issues were raised during the hearing, including the effect on the juvenile crayfish hatchery at the port and cultural issues, as well as noise.

The commissioners say the applicant’s proposals to mitigate the effect on the juvenile crayfishery by the creation of artificial habitat slightly offshore should adequately mitigate the effects of the loss of habitat beneath wharf seven.

One significant concern that did come to light was that the Mediterranean fanworm had been discovered in the port in 2015.

It was inevitable that the disposal of sediment would spread fanworm to offshore waters. Given this, they saw no need to decline or otherwise limit the applicant’s proposal to dispose of sediment offshore.

The commissioners say tangata whenua will be part of a forum in which they can resolve matters relating to cultural values at the port.

Cultural considerations relating to the port area were given particular attention in the application, and the decisions and from the submissions made by various tangata whenua groups through the conditions of the consents.

The applicant had accepted some conditions that went beyond the commissioners’ ability to impose.

They said it was not clear how the current proposals affected the cone of vision. Concerns related to present activities and compliance with the regional plan were a matter for Gisborne District Council as part of its regional plan.

A major concern by submitters was the disruption caused by noise, and heavy trucks and trailers taking logs to and from the port.

The commissioners had walked over the bridge and around the apartments on the other side.

However, they thought there were steps that Eastland Port could follow to reduce the number of logging trucks on local roads. In particular, it was likely that double handling could be more effectively minimised.

The concerns raised by submitters had been taken into account and the proposal was consistent with the Tairawhiti Resource Management Plan, the commissioners said.