Bay of Plenty Regional Council releases Rena report
Thursday, 6 November 2014 9:00 a.m.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council has released its S87F report on the Rena owners’ Application to leave the wreck in place on Otaiti (Astrolabe) reef.
The Council has granted the Applicant’s request to refer the Application to the Environment Court. Its report has been prepared under Section s87F of the Resource Management Act.
Once the Applicant receives the Council’s Report it must decide whether to proceed with its direct referral request. If it does proceed, the Environment Court will become the decision-maker on this application. The Council, as the consent authority, is required to provide reasonable assistance to the Court throughout the process.
The Council’s report includes a detailed analysis of information provided by the Applicant, additional technical information that the Council commissioned from independent advisors and a review and summary of submissions. A copy of the report is available on the website www.renaresourceconsent.org.nz
The Council’s report has been sent to the Applicant and is also being sent directly to submitters to the Application. The Applicant now has to confirm if it still wishes the Application to proceed directly to the Environment Court. If it does, the Regional Council then provides the Environment Court with all relevant information – the Application, reports and submissions on the Application, and it is up to the Court to make a decision on the consent.
The website www.renaresourceconsent.org.nz has been set up to meet the Court’s requirements, and information will be available to the public.
Regional Council Chief Executive Mary-Anne Macleod said that in addition to the 151 submissions, the Council had prepared its own technical report, (s87F), analysing the Application and its supporting material.
“The report concludes that the damage already caused by the grounding, coupled with the difficulty and high health and safety risks of full wreck removal essentially restricts the options available.”
Ms Macleod said that the Council’s s87F report recommends that, provided key issues can be adequately addressed through the consent process, including consideration of cultural concerns, the Application should be granted. The Council has also recommended a number of conditions for the Environment Court to consider if the consent is granted.
Ms Macleod acknowledged the report’s conclusion that while full removal of the wreck from the Reef was ‘technically possible’, it was not feasible, given the high health and safety risks associated with full removal. There was also likely to be extensive further damage to the structure and ecology of the reef from on-going salvage, and further discharge of contaminants. These issues will be discussed at a future Council meeting.
Ms Macleod says some key concerns with the Proposal needed to be further considered through the consent process. These include potential long-term adverse effects of copper on the local environment and the reef ecology, potential cumulative effects of any future discharges and cultural effects.
The Council’s recommended conditions include the Applicant clearing debris, removing remaining sections of the bow, working to remove copper, conducting underwater surveys, establishing a Kaitiaki Reference Group and a Technical Advisory Group and preparing a monitoring plan as well as working closely with Maori.