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Thursday
Nov152018

Mangrove Denouement 

The almost complete failure of the TCDC sponsored Bill to give it (and Hauraki DC) non-RMA regulated control of mangrove removal activities in the two Districts was reported back from the Governance and Administration Select Committee on 5 November. 

Rather than simply throw the whole thing out as it should have done, it has simply 'gutted' the Bill is such a way as to completely remove any possibility of it being 'fit for our Council's purpose, and intent.' Not only that, but it has restricted its operation to the confines of Whangamata Harbour.

What a 'slap in the face' for our Council, and its determined Whangamata constituents in particular who have fought so hard to get the power to simply remove what they consider a weed, and hindrance to their marine sporting activities, and views!

Mayor Sandra, who has been such a supporter - even to the extent of joining illegal removal activities in the past, will have some explaining, and fence mending to do on the other side of the Peninsula. No one on this side cares a tupenny-hoot about mangrove, and the Committee simply did not buy the arguments put forward in favour of by-passing all existing legislation to achieve the desired end.

Whangamata residents will be dismayed to hear that that even the definition of the Bill in favour of mangrove removal has been changed to "protection and maintenance," and removal of any reference to "whole tree removal and maintenance dredging" together with modification of mechanised removal to "hand-held" only.

The Report goes on to recommend that oversight of any mangrove management plan would lie with a committee comprising a representatives to TCDC, WRC, DoC, an appropriately qualified scientist, and iwi representation agreed on with TCDC.  Other tight regulating provisions follow, and a "sunset" clause of five years before the regional coastal plan would re-apply. Finally, any plan that emerges from any committee set up under this Bill would require the approval of the Minister of Local Government. Boy, talk about tying the ambitions of the Whangamata mangrove activists up in knots!

Frankly, these provisions alone, if adopted, as seems very likely, will result in utter frustration amongst Whangamata residents who envisaged virtually a 'free-hand' to get amongst the 'demon' plant with real machines, and create an environment more suited to their recreational activities.

By the way - here is the 'killer' provision:

"Clause 4(2)(a) would require the committee, in preparing the draft mangrove management plan, to complete an assessment of environmental effects in accordance with specific sections in the RMA. Clause 4(2)(b) would require the committee to consider where mangroves contribute to coastal ecosystems or protect the coast from erosion. We consider that these provisions would ensure that the committee considers environ mental effects as part of its preparation of a plan, and particularly any environmental benefits that mangroves may be providing."

The whole exercise has proven to be a colossal waste of time and resources, and by not 'knocking the Bill on the head' right from the outset, the Committee has created more scope for division and argument as it progresses to its inevitable denouement - hopefully.

The Report notes the members of the Committee indicating a Government majority of course, and with the Hon Scott Simpson only "participating in some of this item of business."

Neither he nor his constituents will be pleased to see that the Report comes back "unanimously." I guess Scott was absent when the vote was taken. You can imagine the un-likelihood of any revolt on the floor of Parliament in regard to its recommendations. Our Council will need to revert to the drawing board - I can't see any point in it attempting to achieve its objectives under the provisions of this Bill.

 

 

 

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