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Halt to Whangamata Coastal Destruction Welcomed

Tuesday 7 March 2006

Minister's Halt to Whangamata Coastal Destruction Welcomed

"The Conservation Minister Chris Carter has done the right thing in declining an application under the Resource Management Act for permits to construct a marina in Whangamata harbour", says Cath Wallace of the Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ.

"The application was for permission to destroy significant wetlands and to dredge out part of the harbour and then to convert it to essentially private use.

Wetlands and harbours are very important for controlling the flow of nutrients, sediments and pollutants from the land to the sea and they provide the habitat for vital marine communities and the habitat for some fish juveniles. Mangrove communities are especially important for this. These matters are recognised in the New Zealand Coastal Policy statement which the Minister is bound to consider under the Resource Management Act 1991.

The Whangamata marina would have had a significant environmental impact. The local community was split on the matter - and some are more concerned with private interests than public interests. The Minister's considerations are spelt out in the Resource Management Act and the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement: he has powers to consider matters himself and to come to a decision different from that of the Environment Court.

The Minister probably considered not only the immediate impact of this proposal with its very significant environmental effects, but also the cumulative impacts of coastal development right around the coast. The Resource Management Act requires consideration of cumulative impacts and of costs and benefits that are not just financial flows. Environmental costs have to be considered.

The Minister has shown he has the future of New Zealand and its environment at heart - and that he takes seriously the requirement to maintain the natural character of the coast and to defend it from inappropriate development. He has done the right thing.


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