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Admiralty Bay Decision Out

Media Release

for immediate release.

*Friends of Nelson Haven and Tasman Bay Inc.***

www.nelsonhaven.co.nz

info@nelsonhaven.co.nz

The coastal watch dog group, The Friends of Nelson Haven and Tasman Bay is celebrating its success with DOC and the Marlborough District Council, against the appeal by Kuku Mara Partnership for two 42 hectare mussel farms in Admiralty Bay, a significant habitat for Dusky dolphins.

The natural character, land and seascapes and visual amenity of Admiralty Bay's open waters and the Marlborough Sounds generally, navigation, and the dolphin habitat were all part of the decision. Dusky dolphins, especially males, some recognised from the Kaikoura coast during summer, spend part of the winter feeding in Admiralty Bay.

The original application was declined by the Marlborough District Council after a hearing in May 2000.

The appeal had been heard by Environment Judge Craig Thompson and Environment Commissioners W R Howie and John Mills at hearings in April 2004 and March this year in Blenheim.

The decision released on Friday declining the mussel farms was the third Kuku Mara case The Friends Of Nelson Haven and Tasman Bay had been successful in, involving a total of five 42 hectare applications, according to co-chair Steffan Browning, who acknowledged the efforts of the organisations past RMA advocate Russel Fenney and Counsel Warwick Heal, and more recently Counsel Kate Mitchell. All had done stirling work he said.

A similarly non-complying appeal by MacLab for a 20 hectare farm was recently declined on navigation grounds. MacLab have several further appeals outstanding in Admiralty and Forsyth Bays, with Kuku Mara having one in the entrance of Port Ligar. Another three applicants have outstanding appeals for midbay farms although Mr Browning is confident most appeals will be withdrawn. The Marlborough Sounds have special qualities and the Environment court has recognised this.

The midbay applications were never intended in the Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan, and The Friends had consistently opposed applications that took advantage of plan inadequacies. Once again the Environment Court has suggested in its decision that an improvement in the plan might save a great deal of time and money in the future, according to Mr Browning, who said that he had asked the council to make the changes 5 years ago when Kuku Mara Partnership's first application exposed the flawed plan.

Many other midbay applicants had realised their applications were not 'runners' and had withdrawn their applications or appeals, and organisations such as The Friends of Nelson Haven and Tasman Bay, and The Marlborough Environment Centre had been vindicated in their position by the Courts decisions, said Mr Browning.

Many in the marine farming industry had supported our stand and opposed the midbay applications but because of the costs of the appeals and commercial pressure, had withdrawn from the appeal process.

The costs have been high for the environmental groups and support from the community is encouraged as The Friends head into three of the remaining midbay appeals over the next few months.

Mr Browning said that it is important to note that the Friends of Nelson Haven and Tasman Bay, and The Marlborough Environment Centre were not opposed to mussel farms as a matter of course, but opposed applications where there were real environmental, navigation and aesthetic concerns. Many smaller applications had not been opposed.

ENDS

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