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Mangrove Local Bill Ill-Conceived!

Right from the word ‘go’ mangrove removal has been one of the great ‘populist’ issues promoted by a small group of mainly Whangamata individuals, aided and abetted by their local Residents & Ratepayers, Community Board, and Councillors. The noise that they have created has been consistent and continuous, but their failure to comply with the requirements of the consents already granted by the WRC is mind-bogglingly short-sighted.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The net result has been the political pressure applied at all levels to get a ‘local Bill’ passed through Parliament to enable the mangroves to be removed at will by any council. It is to the shame of our Mayor and Council that they have allowed themselves to be ‘steam-rollered’ into this course of action, and to have secured Scott Simpson’s support as a willing, but necessary dupe in getting this Bill introduced into the Houses where it will almost certainly die for lack of support because, hopefully, officials will advise of the futility and danger of progressing the matter. He should consider his position as Associate Minister for the environment before allowing himself to be used in this manner.

As any reader of this blog will know, I have opposed the pro-removal group from day one because of the obvious environmental effects of removing what is one of the most important marine breeding environments we have available to us, and the obvious irrationality of those who opposed them based on their desire to clear waterways to enhance views, and for their craft and recreational activities.

The objections these people have raised have been manifest with a recent tendency to create a ‘Trumpish’ reality based on the falsity of all the environmental arguments – shades of climate denial!

The reality of the long-standing exasperation of the environmental lobby at this turn of events has suddenly been enhanced, once again by Denis Tegg, with evidence he has produced of the value of the mangroves in protecting our coastline against storm surges that we must expect with greater frequency in the future. See his latest blog on the subject here.

“It is nonsensical to tear out a highly effective natural barrier against storm tides, erosion, and sea level rise only to then replace it with a hugely expensive and ineffectual wall or other “hard” structure.” 


“Mangrove removal would be placed on a pedestal with a unique legal privilege not given to any other activity.  The right to a hearing before an independent commissioner or the Courts would be ditched.  Instead, the Councils including some members who have already prejudged that mangrove removal should occur, would merely “consult”.  There is no right of appeal – the Council would have the final say.”

Both Denis and I are agreed that this is a flawed and futile proposal that can only end with our councils becoming ‘laughoing-stocks’ – existing consents are perfectly adequate – all they need do is comply with the conditions that have already been adjusted substantially to meet their demands. 



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Reader Comments (2)

There is no doubt that mangroves have, in the last 50-100 years (and maybe even longer), inundated places where there is evidence that they never used to grow. There is photographic evidence of this all around the peninsula, including Whangamata, Tairua, Coromandel, and Thames. The main reason mangroves have done this is because an ideal habitat has been created for them through catchment clearance of vegetation and, in some cases, intensive farming. This has greatly increased the silt levels in rivers, which ends up deposited on river flats in tidal areas. This, in turn, raises the tidal bed levels enough for mangroves to flourish. Mangrove removal proponents look at the photographic evidence and want to return it to that which is represented 50-100 years ago. The only way to permanently do this is to sustainably manage land use activity in the entire catchment, and provide protection to riparian zones through intensive planting and fencing. When this is done, then go ahead and remove mangroves, but only remove those which have been deemed to grow as a result of poor management of the land in the last 50-100 years. To just remove mangroves is `an "ambulance at the bottom of a cliff" approach.
I'm not sure if Scott Simpson will actually end up supporting a mangrove local bill, especially in his role as the Parliamentary Private Secretary on conservation and environmental matters, working for the Minister of Conservation - but maybe supporting the bill will become a "no brainer" given an election is not far away.

June 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterInterested

Nothing I disagree with Interested. The arguments for and against are well rehearsed. What is more at issue with the proposed Bill is that it is not necessary. We have perfectly adequate laws which have already been used locally to obtain resource consents for mangrove removal. This is not a serious and credible effort to resolve the issues. Instead, it has the hallmarks of a populist but futile attempt to appear to be “doing something”

Our laws require every person or Council wishing to carry out an activity of similar scale to obtain a resource consent. Imagine the huge outcry all around the country if this Bill were ever to be passed. Every man and his dog, and every other Council would be demanding special legislation for their pet project because they too were “frustrated by the time, cost and process”. Legal chaos would ensue. The Bill has zero chance of becoming law.

June 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDenis Tegg

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