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Friday
Dec132013

Coromandel Harbour Facilities Project 

This Paper covering Milestone 2 of the Project by Greg Hampton goes to Council next week, and it is almost exactly as has been predicted in earlier posts.

The strong impression given is that the Paper is designed to flesh out what has already been decided in regard to the most favoured point of development - Furey's Creek. The assumption is that the commercial interests will continue to be concentrated at Sugar Loaf and around Coromandel Wharf. 

What is not so clear is exactly what form and scale of infrastructure is favoured at Furey's Creek - clearly, the proponents would like all recreational and ferry activities based around this piece of Council owned land - and it appears capable of providing the space required. I won't go in to the whole range of facilities suggested - see the Report, but at any level, the scale of Council investment in infrastructure is likely to be substantial - $20 to $30m if I am not mistaken - maybe more. 

What will be of greater concern to those who have always suspected that the environmental down-sides would outweigh the advantages of the development are contained under the Project Issues - Sediment Quality section of the Report.

Here are the relevant paras:

From recent sediment sampling, previous reports and geological surveys it is evident that minerals are concentrated in the top sediment layer throughout most of the Coromandel harbour including the  Area of Significant Conservation Value (ASCV).

Sediment quality and background values obtained through the various studies and reports show what we already know – that the Peninsula and specifically in this case the Coromandel area, has a highly mineralised geology due to historic ephemeral volcanic activity. Historic gold mining activity has also contributed negatively to this legacy.

It is a concern that the harbour sediments contain elevated levels of Arsenic and Mercury and it is also recognised that the sediment is easily and constantly mobilised by stream scour action, wave action, boat movements through the mud flats and tidal action

This indicates that the harbour is not a pristine environment in terms of regulation standards and guidelines.

This is the current and historic situation that harbour sediment s have contained these heavy metals for well over a century and also as long as shellfish farms have operated in the Hauraki Gulf.

Coromandel Marine Farmers Association remain confident in their management systems related to these issues including the risks around additional dredging with the proviso of having appropriate mitigation methods in place.

This issue is an important factor in relation to proposals for dredging within the harbour. It will be important to ensure that dredging operations are carried out in an environmentally responsible manner and that ongoing dredging maintenance is both economically and environmentally sustainable.

I would have to take issue with Greg's sanguine conclusion in the final paragraph of this section. There will be a considerable reaction from those whom remain highly skeptical of any possible mitigation moves that may be taken, and certainly relying on the Marine Farmers Association for advice in that regard will be taken with a grain of salt.

In fact, unless they can get over this hurdle, the whole exercise is fraught, and may crash and burn before it gets to first base. Let's face it - it is iin the interests of the consultants whose advice is being sought to see that this gravy train continues to the next few stations ('milestones'), and they are unlikely to spell out the consequences of being unable to achieve a credible solution to this problem.

It is incumbent on Council to stop the train now, and bring in experts of the stature of those used in the Moanataiari investigation to provide critical and credible advice on the practicality of disturbing these deposits in the course of undertaking the inevitable dredging required to proceed with any of these alternatives - particularly that at Furey's Creek.

The suggested Resolution is premature, and will quite possibly involve our Council in unnecessary and avoidable expense that will inevitably be loaded on our rates.

Here are the Recommendations:

That the Thames Coromandel District Council:

1. Receives the report.

2. Approves the Furey’s Creek / Coromandel Wharf development concept for further consultation and development during course of delivering Milestone 3 of the Coromandel Harbour Facilities Strategy Project.

3. Approves Milestones 3 and 4 for the development of a final Feasibility Study and Business Case

which will potentially inform the 2014/15 Draft Annual Plan.

4. Approves the allocation of additional operational expenditure budget to the value of $128,150 in the 2013 - 14 financial year from the (District) Economic Development activity.

5. Approves the Funding for $128,150 from the Special Project Reserve.

6. Resolves to amend the funding of Milestone 2 to a three year loan.

7. Notes that as a consequence of this project together with the Coromandel Great Walks project will m ost likely necessitate an amendment to the current funding structure of the Economic Development Activity of Council.

Those funding the Economic Development Ativity of Council should be concerned - very concerned when they consider the implications of 7 above. 

 



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Reader Comments (1)

really a so so blog - bit of mining in the harbour, maybe an oz of gold, bit of mercury moving about - UNTIL one reads number 7 in the proposed motion:--'will MOST likely necessitate an amendment to the to the current funding structure of the Economic Developement Activity of Council'
Already businesses have a hefty targeted tax on their business under the guise of economic developement - with no consultation as to how the Council spends it's windfall. Elected members feel it is fine to hit commercial properties with this tax 'as they can claim for it as a cost against doing business' - forgetting we have to earn it first - and that is not easy in the current economic climate.
Beware Council, of killing the goose who lays the golden egg!

December 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAureus

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