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Saturday
Aug092014

Coromandel Harbour Facilities Project

The Coromandel Harbour Facilities Project (interim?) Report will be presented by Greg Hampton to Council on Wednesday.

It is very hard to comment on the content because it is presented in a very confusing and in many ways contradictory manner. In the end, you just have to go to the recommendations and assume that they are supported by the content, but that is not necessarily so. There is a great deal that is absent or to be presented in a separate Summary on the day of the meeting – this is becoming the standard method of presenting anything that may possibly be controversial.

The most important issues that I have with the proposals relate to the expanded sediment testing regime that was called for earlier this year. The results are only alluded to, and nothing specific is provided that may enable a judgement to be made in regard to the wisdom of progressing any further with dredging, at any level. Dredging proposals have been divided into two – half metre, and one and one half metre.

The former appears to exclude all but limited recreational and charter operations from Furey’s Creek, and the latter appears to have designated part of a much more expansive development of the Coromandel Dredged Basin between the Coromandel Wharf and Jack’s Point with a preliminary costing of some $50m – faint hope of that proceeding in the foreseeable future, but the Report appears unwilling to spell that out. .

The second and most significant absence from the Report is any mention of aquaculture fish farming that underwent such a thorough examination over recent years, but which appears to have dropped off the cliff along with the so-called ‘international tendering’ process that the WRC is supposed to be superintending. Not a single mention of this which following all the earlier ballyhoo appears a significant ‘back-down,’ probably for commercial rather than environmental reasons which is why those who have grave concerns about the latter should avoid complacency.   

These are what are defined as the “immediate key priorities:

  1.  Resolve Health & Safety issues on Sugarloaf by separating and/or managing conflicting industry and recreational activities and creating capacity elsewhere for any activities that may be diverted away from this facility.
  2.  Enable and support growth in the Aquaculture industry, commercial fishers and    charter    boat businesses, to provide economic benefit through the development of suitable harbour facilities.

The primary objective remains to deliver a Coromandel Harbour Facility Strategy that will deliver marine infrastructure that is appropriate for current and future needs.

The Paper then outlines a host of reasons why certain objectives cannot be achieved, excepting at huge cost, and in an unspecified long (very long!) term.

Reading between the lines (always necessary in these circumstances), it is clear that there is less than enthusiastic support for what has been proposed from the Coromandel Marine Farmers Association (CMFA) – they even failed to attend important meetings at which these proposals were being discussed. Clearly the farmers are not impressed with any proposal that requires their financial contribution, including and in particular the development of recreational facilities elsewhere (i.e. Furey’s Creek).

Staff suggest in this Paper that such a contribution is integral to progressing the proposals, but clearly the farmers believe that TCDC should meet the entire cost of such a move, even though recreational use is currently a permitted use at Sugarloaf. They won’t get rid of recreational users by asking them nicely to move, and in the meantime, there are substantial Health and Safety issues associated with continued use of Sugarloaf for this purpose.

I note the recommendation (4) that the Mayor, his Deputy and the Chief Executive are delegated to further discuss (negotiate?) contractural arrangements with the CMFA on this issue, and I fully anticipate that they will come back to Council in due course with a recommendation that reflects a ‘softer’ approach (i.e. – we all pay!) than that which is reflected in the Paper.

Such is the Mayor’s need to get ‘runs on the board’ that he appears ready to agree to just about anything, and I would suggest that Mr Gilbert James and his Association are well aware of it.

Of the four options that emerged the one staff favour is:

Option C: Sugarloaf (industry expansion and continued recreational), Furey's Creek (half metre deep channel for recreational users and shallow draught charter boats), Continued use of Hannaford's and development of the Coromandel Wharf Dredged Basin concept (long term potential for marina plus all other users);

This does not appear to be too different from what is currently the case, so I cannot really understand what all the fuss is about, other than giving Council the opportunity to vent over all the options that are clearly unsupported, financially impossible, or downright dangerous to the environment.

The Report then goes on to explain how $346,500 ($185,000 to Cranleigh – Consultants to date) has been spent in achieving this remarkable result. $30,000 remains to be spent on what would appear to be a fairly redundant ‘Business Case.’ Why precisely that is needed in the circumstances is not immediately clear, but perhaps that will be explained on Wednesday.

Cranleigh would appear to have been well remunerated for the work they have done to date, though as stated earlier, the results of the ‘sediment survey’ have not been made public. Never mind – many ‘milestones’ have been achieved, and many more remain before the big one (Coromandel Dredged Basin) comes on the table, so probably we should all heave a big sigh of relief, even though some chickens remained unhatched.

All in all, a fairly futile exercise to date with a huge enthusiasm generated around Coromandel with several public meetings, but no end in sight in regard to achieving whatever it is that was envisaged in the first place. The idea of ferries on the doorstep seem to have been the main generator of this enthusiasm, but that appears a distant possibility based from any reading of the recommendations.    

Th only danger in what is now proposed lies in the ‘half-metre’ deep channel to Furey’s Creek. Hopefully that can be achieved without disturbing the contaminated sediment that is inferred in the Report, and on which hopefully there will more definitive information provided on Wednesday.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (2)

Bill,

This harbour facilitiies report has the classic symptoms of a 'post turtle' - you know - when you are driving down a country lane and find a fence post with a turtle balanced on top - you know he didn't get there by himself - doesn't belong there - doesn't know what to do there while he's up there - and won't be going nowhere.

And we all know who the dumb bastards are who put him there!!

What worries me though, is that these right wing clowns will commit to one of the pro-active - ie extremely expensive - options only in order to demonstrate that they are doing something. After-all, that has consistently proved to be what they wish most desperately to convince us of.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCoro-go-mandel

A ferry service to where? Auckland? Those punters will want to bring their toys to play in their holiday retreats surely. Or we talking about day trippers?. In and out for Latte?

Me thinks the Mayor has ambition too deep for the channel The resuspension of the metal contaminants will make this project a no goer, even if there were financial backers for this, which there are not.

August 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

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