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Mangrove Issue Back On Table

The absence of Jack Wells from the table has not made the contentious mangrove issue go away - the pressure from Whangamata rate-payers to clear the 'weed' from their harbour remains just as strong, and Mayor Goudie has has shown (and expressed) a willingness to 'go to bat' on their behalf.

A paper goes to Council on a Supplementary Order Paper that will give staff the authority to proceeed with the drawing up of a Local Bill permitting a mangrove management maintenance and nuisances by-law.

This is a none-too-subtle attempt to bypass the Regional Council that has once again demonstrated a reluctance to proceed with instituting the necessary steps to address the issue. Here is the relevant paragraph from the Paper:

"In the meantime, the current resource consent held by WRC, for mangrove removal in the Whangamata harbour, is live.  Attached to that consent is an environmental monitoring management plan (EMMP).  A condition of consent2 requires that the EMMP be reviewed prior to the commencement of stage two removal (and thereafter, every five years).   A draft EMMP review report has been presented to the parties3 to the consent, and consultation with these parties will soon commence.    As part of this review, it was requested that TCDC, as a party to the SoI, have observer status in the consultation process.  The request was given due consideration by WRC, but in the end WRC advised that it could not accommodate observers in the EMMP review process."

This has clearly engendered an atmosphere of frustration amongst members, if not staff. in the attempt to achieve a plan change through the earlier "Statement of Intent" signed with the Council. There has been antagonism between the two organisations over the need for, and methods of imposing mangrove removal policies. The Regional Council has always adopted a more moderate stance, more or less backing Forest & Bird, and the Environmental Defence Society stance on the matter, that generally favours leaving the mangroves alone in the interests of environmental balance.

Refusing access of TCDC 'observers' during the consultation process has obviously come as the final straw in the process of attempting to get the WRC 'on-side,' and TCDC has now decided to go it alone, or at least seek agreement with 'congruent' councils to proceed with a Local Bill.

This is not a good start to the new relationship with the WRC, but was probably inevitable in the circumstances. Scott Simpson has a task ahead in getting it through Parliament - he does not have to agree with it, but probably does!




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