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Coromandel Harbour Project

The Coromandel Harbour Project came to Council today with all its related documents.

It was quite clear from the body language around the table that there was no patience for any ‘Greenie’’ complaints, and Forest and Bird representative Catherine Donoghue, and Barry Brickell’s rep – Scott Wynard were given scant, if polite consideration. On the other hand, Gilbert James from the Coromandel Marine Farmers Association was roundly welcomed as he came to assure all that the farmers now accepted Option C.

What he did not state is just how much or what percentage his members were willing to contribute to the project – a question soon to be explored by Leach, French and Hammond, and you may be sure that Gilbert and his people will be ready for them. Forget it if the contribution is to be through the Association – it has no legal call over its members. On the other hand we have already seen one major commercial player – Vitasovich, go down the drain. Assurances by other commercial interests may not be worth the paper they are written on. Up-front funding may be the only option!

In fact, the Forest and Bird submissions – had anyone round the table been inclined to read them may have given pause – they were professionally prepared, exemplary, and raised the bar in regard to concerns that have been troubling a great many observers, including myself.

To get to the nitty-gritty, it is clear that Option C  as outlined in the 9 August post below was going to be adopted without much questioning, but with one interesting addition – that being the development of a ferry terminal at Sugar Loaf at substantial additional expense. This would appear to all but rule out the development of the Jack’s Point/Wharf dredged basin development, but it remains as part of the long term ambition in Option C.

Forest & Bird hit the nail on the head when they indicated that that with the environmental challenges that will certainly arise, this last development had “Jack’s” chance of getting up, and implied that they thought it was a waste of time even considering it. They are right, and Leach is wrong – it is pointless even ‘harbouring’ such a concept ($56m, and counting) It is fastastical, and a distraction.

But what is of major concern is that the original instruction to staff back in January to go away and complete the sediment investigation that was so blatantly absent from their original proposal has again been side-lined, this time in favour of going after the Resource Consent for Option C. While the Basin proposal remains in that Option, the cost of the RS is likely to be at least $100,000, or more, and the rationale is that this is required before spending the $330,000 required to complete the full-scale sediment survey. Talk about ‘chicken & egg’ this is a staggering outcome, and calls the whole exercise into question, particularly when the CMFA contribution to the Resource Consent remains in limbo.

My impression following Leach’s bullying of submitters at today’s meeting is that he is desperate to get ‘runs on the board’, and nothing will stand in the way. Greg Hampton is convinced that the risk from the sediment review is ‘over-stated’ and that it is unlikely that will prevent the plans from proceeding. There is a kind of ‘she’ll be right, mate’ attitude prevailing, and clearly they are taking their lead from the Project Working Group that submitters claim is stacked in favour of commercial interests.

Finally, I await with interest the costings of the development of ferry terminal at Sugar-Loaf to replace Hannafords, which it is planned will continue in the meantime, and the staff suggestion regarding the breakup of where these costs may fall. Greg promised to pass these through after he had obtained them from Francois Pienaar who is handling this part of the project.

Again, I am staggered at the hubris and cheerfulness that appears to accompany this project even though there is clear acceptance that the whole thing will end up in the Environment Court, and beyond. The big guns of the environmental movement have yet to bare their teeth – the Forest & Bird submissions today were just the first of what is likely to be a major reaction in due course, and I predict considerable embarrassment down line.

In the meantime, the huge financial commitments being entered into on behalf of all District rate-payers to explore these ambitious plans is of even greater concern. Commitments are being made by the day that will severely impact of the future finances of this Council, but while infrastructure works and replacements can be postponed ($10m odd in the current year), all is well!


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Reader Comments (1)

How about a few million for roading, bridge and culvert repairs from the latest storm rather than this grandiose pipe dream.

The consenting costs are going to be significant with no certainty of outcome. Have the powers to be consulted with iwi and undertaken pre application discussions with WRC? Due diligence would require it surely.

August 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

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