Friday, July 31, 2009

Submission to Waikato Regional Council

There have been more changes in construction of the Whangamata marina requiring more consents. Following is the submission of the WCA to the latest consent application. The submitter is : Whangamata Camping Association. Facilitator: Grant McIntosh. C/- P.O. Box 40, Whangamata.

EWDOCS-#1493845. Application for Coastal Permit to occupy the Coastal Marine Area at the Whangamata Boat Ramp.

The Applicant is HeB Construction

The WCA thanks Waikato Regional Council for the chance to submit to this unnotifed consent application.

The WCA does not believe the Whangamata marina is core infrastructure. The asset is held privately on Public land. WCA believe there is no public good in these applications.

The consent application does not address road and marine traffic management. No understanding of existing use of the boat ramp or the access channel is contained in the application. The safety effects on vehicles with boats on trailers, the effects on safety of boats in the access channel are not clearly assessed.

The application is unusual in that it is from a contractor during a job. A former failure of methodology is mentioned as the reason for the consent application. No understanding is given within the application of factors leading to that failure.

The application puts forward three different options. They are referred to as Appendix 1, Appendix 2, and Appendix 3. WCA will refer to all three options but understand from members of the Whangamata Trailer Boat Association, that only the option of Appendix 1 was explained to them. WCA assume this is the only option being discussed. Appendix 1 was not referenced in the first 7 parts of the application, only Appendix 2 and 3 were.

4. Details of the Activities. The description gives little understanding of methodology and effects in a busy area. There has been a recent accumulation of mud at the base of the recently stock piled dredging. Users of the boat ramp, especially at low tide, say mud is getting in their boats and cars where previously it was only sand.
5. Description of proposed activity. The details give little understanding of methodology and effects in a busy area. The application states this method is the most economic. For the contractor not the community. The best option is the digger on the barge taking back the dredging to the marina basin and placing it on land leased to the marina society from the Council. Public space should remain for public use.
7. Consultation. The Councils should test public concern of these applications by requesting interest via advertisement’s in the local papers.
Appendix 1 The option of Appendix 1 was operable for a short period recently. WCA believe that these operations exasperated the mud at the boatramp. The trucking is not compatible with the safe operation of an open boat ramp. The use of a long armed digger working form the channel sides is not compatible for the safety of boat traffic.
Appendix 2. This option brings more of the marina dredging operations, including de watering and holding areas, off their leased property on to public space. There is no understanding of traffic movements or the times of traffic movements.

Appendix 3. WCA are concerned that this larger structure is the precedent that will be required by the marina society for the almost constant dredging required in trying to provide access to the marina basin. This option would require a full public process and an Assessment of Environmental Effects far grater than what is being currently accepted by the Council.

Decisions Requested:

· WCA requests that the Council raise their expectations of what is an acceptable standard for an Application to occupy coastal space
· WCA believes that there are not enough details to assess vehicle and navigation safety for existing users.
· The barge and digger option, but with an extra dogman on the barge, taking back dredgings to the marina basin and using the marina societies leased land to pile and de-water dredgings, is the safest option and the only one in line with consents already held by the marina society.

· The WCA also request that the Councils demonstrate that future dredging of the channel to maintain access to the marina basin will not entail transference of costs to the ratepayer and a loss of even more public space to the taxpayer.

Thankyou. Facilitator: Grant McIntosh. 31 July 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

On the 16 July 2009 I was on the causeway bridge taking photographs of the first high tide to go through the partially constructed marina. Until then a sand cofferdam had surrounded the construction area. The sand had been pushed flat by diggers.

It seems it was also used as an opportunity to flush out some pollution into the estuary.

While watching one of the local fish and chip shop owners walked past and stood to watch as well. He asked “Does that marina basin have no back wall?” The design of the marina is such that the tide goes in the entrance and then out over the top at the back of the basin (visa versa when the tide is goes out). Pointing to the basin he said “I’ve got one of those at work, its called a grease trap.”

Sunday, July 12, 2009

12 July 2009. All photos enlarge when clicked

The digger above is shifting around marine sediment from the seabed of the Moana anu anu channel of the Whangamata estuary. The sediment (mainly sand and biological sea life) has to be dug out otherwise the recently excavated marina basin will not have boat access to the open sea.

The digging out of seabed to create a channel and then placing that sediment on land is rarely recommended in coastal process text books, journals etc over the last 25 years. Yet (about) 12 environmental managers being; lawyers, judges, planners, scientists, recommended it and it is now being done.

Some of those opposing this practise were

  • Iwi / hapu, (effects on traditional shell fish beds and access to kaimoana). Breach of Tikanga.
  • surfers (it will increase water velocity thus changing natural channel routes; the area is one of the sand reservoirs of the nearby Whangamata Bar).

The coastal land currently used to dry out the marine sediment is owned by the Department of Conservation (aprox 2.4 ha) and the Thames Coromandel District Council (TCDC) (aprox 2.5 ha). The TCDC purchased the land in 1985. The money came from rates. The TCDC will not explain which of the Council budget’s these funds came from. While in private hands (1941 to 1985) the Council had it zoned “proposed recreational reserve”. A recent submission of the Whangamata Trailer Boat Association, to the TCDC, 2009-2019 - 10 year plan, gave evidence that the land was purchased for overflow parking for the near-by public boat ramp and for a Public reserve.

Currently the TCDC are charging $100,000 (includes GST) per annum land rental to the marina developers. What rentals the Department of Conservation are charging for the Crown land is a secret between DoC and the marina developers.

Occupation charges to those trading in berths, of the marina basin area by Waikato Regional Council, is also secret.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Will a collection of errors, like those causing the blowout of the temporary bund at the Whangamata marina, now be transferred to the permanent construction features? How can the Crown give confidence to the lasting stakeholders of the shared Whangamata environment, that this marina will work like the Crown believed it would in hearings, in the Courts and in Parliament?
Where the blowout took place was quite defined. It was adjacent to the entrance of the incomplete marina. This is an area of complex engineering and design. It includes a weir (or drop structure). It’s an area where water rises out of the seabed.
According to the Crown (via the Waikato Regional Council) this is saltwater. The video at the top (click to start) is of a water vent now covered by the partially constructed weir. The video at the bottom is of a water vent near the base of the permanent rock entrance. There is a long documented history of freshwater surfacing in this area. If these vents were to be freshwater it would create issues over accumulative time along with the pressure of tide and floods.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

At 7.30 am on the 1st of July 2009 I walked out along the construction bund, of the partially built Whangamata marina, to the area where the bund had recently (Tuesday 29 June 2009) blown-out. I assumed that the breaking of the bund, the inundation of water, the pushing of sand back into the excavated basin, the litter of construction materials, the sinking of port a loos, pumps and other equipment was not intended by the developers, the contractors and the Councils over looking this project. Some of the construction materials left the construction zone and floated out into the estuary.
What was it that caused the blow-out?

· was it the construction,
· the force of the tides
· the flow of the river,
· the amount of storm water entering inside the basin
· fresh water coming up underneath the bund
· systematic error somewhere in the developer / contractor / council paradigm
· a combination of the above or something else all together.

In the coming weeks an expectation is that an official report will explain what happened.

Exactly one year ago at 7.30 am I visited some of my friends who had gone camping on a Crown road and Public land by the inner waters of Whangamata. Today at 7.30 I went to the same place but it was now a vast construction site that extends from the land into coastal marine area. The area is unrecognisable from what it was a year ago.

The reason for the camp was to protest the building of a marina on this site. The idea for a marina was an old one and had been argued in the abstract since the late 1970’s. It started in 1996 when the New Zealand Government processed an application to develop a marina from the Whangamata Marina Society. From this point onwards the decision whether to have a marina or not has gone through the Community, District and Regional hearings, the Environment Court, the High Court, Parliament and the Ministries of the Environment and the Ministry of Conservation. During this process an estimated $20 million dollars was spent by the Crown’s (NZ Government) environmental management systems. This $20 million was used by the Crown to employ politicians and educated people in the areas of planning, science, engineering, and the law. The money for these people came from taxation.

In December 2006 the Minister of Environment granted permission for the development of a marina at Whangamata. The developers have said they will spend up to $20 million dollars. The developers are operating under the Friendly Societies Act. Where the money is coming from and how it moves is vague.

The construction of the marina began on the 1st of October 2008. The abstract arguments have now finished and the actual is taking place. The Crowns environmental management systems and the developer’s submissions to the Crown would from now on be tested in the real world.

The question is still to be determined. Those campers; were they there to bear witness. to finish something or to start something or all of these things?