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Rangitoto Channel deepening and the environment

NEWS RELEASE

21 August 2001

Rangitoto Channel deepening must protect marine life and the marine environment

Conditions to control and lessen the effects of blasting in Rangitoto Channel should be imposed on any resource consent issued to Ports of Auckland Ltd for its proposed channel deepening work.

Auckland City Council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee has lodged a submission in support of the application, subject to conditions to minimise impact on the marine environment and marine life.

Ports of Auckland is seeking the consent from the Auckland Regional Council because it needs to deepen the commercial shipping lane to accommodate new container ships with greater carrying capacity.

Committee chairperson Councillor Juliet Yates says the Council supports the application because an efficient container terminal of international standard and able to cater for New Zealand shipping needs is vitally important to the city and region.

“Most of the work will be done by dredging and the Council has no problem with the way in which Ports of Auckland plans to remove soft muds and silts from the channel,” she said. “However, underwater blasting may be needed to remove rockier deposits and the Council has concerns about the potential impacts of this.

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“Our strong preference is that blasting should not be used. If it is essential, it must be managed and controlled so that spawning seasons are avoided,

sonar assessments are carried out before blasting to make sure major fish schools are not within the blast areas and measures are used to scare fish away from the blast sites.”

The Council also wants minimum- sized blast charges to be used, along with techniques to limit the impact and spread of any blast and to contain the spread of shockwave effects as much as possible. Trial blasts and monitoring are further recommended to ascertain the best methodology for blasting.

“The Council has had long experience with resource consents involving blasting on land,” Mrs Yates said. “Procedures have evolved by way of agreement between applicants, contractors and blasting experts which have avoided adverse effects on very near neighbours. These same procedures could be adapted to this situation so that damage to the marine environment is minimised and the migratory and spawning patterns of big and small fishes, marine mammals and sea birds are protected.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

- Councillor Juliet Yates, tel: 528 0581 or 025 327 437.


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