Some Facts From Auckland Council
The Port of Auckland issue just became more charged over the course of today. I am aware there has been a request to revisit the decision around what rules for reclamation are taken to mediation under the Unitary Plan to the Governing Body. It is yet to be seen if the Mayor will allow this to be revisited at the Governing Body.
In the meantime since my CEASE FIRE ON THE PORT – UPDATE post Auckland Council has released a fact sheet on the Port and Unitary Plan situation. It marries up with what I wrote in my previous post.
The Fact Sheet
Ports of Auckland Limited and the Unitary Plan
- Ports of Auckland Limited looked at long-term port development options in 2013 as part of a review of its 2008 Port Development Plan. This work included public consultation on two expansion options which both drastically reduced the level of expansion previously anticipated.
- The port plan is simply a plan. It has no legal standing, and it has not been adopted by Auckland Council.
- The option favoured by POAL involves reclamation of a maximum of 6.6 hectares, most of this to extend Bledisloe Wharf. Although this was the POAL’s favoured option, the study indicated ongoing productivity gains could reduce this further.
- Auckland Council needs to balance any possible growth of the port which provides economic returns and jobs for the wider regional economy and New Zealand with the need to ensure any growth does not adversely impact the surrounding environment.
- As such the council wants robust rules in the Unitary Plan, a draft of which is currently before the Independent Hearings Panel. Submissions from a number of parties, including POAL are being heard by the panel and mediation on the Port Precinct provisions began on March 2, 2015. POAL and the council are part of that mediation.
- Council did not vote for more lenient rules on reclamation. In fact the council position is for tougher rules and regulations governing reclamation than are in place in the legacy Regional Coastal Plan.
- The rules mean that most applications for reclamation would need to be fully publicly notified and that the application can be declined (Discretionary Fully Notified). The exceptions relate to maintenance or repair of existing reclamations, reclamations of less than 0.6 hectares within the inner port area or certain rehabilitation remedial works.
- As well as that, Auckland Council has shrunk the area within the port covered under the Discretionary Fully Notified rule. The rest of the outer port area, apart from the inner port area, is retained as Non-Complying which means a ‘tougher test’.
- The resource consents POAL has for extensions to Bledisloe Wharf are for wharf pile extensions, not reclamations. No application for reclamation for Bledisloe Wharf has been lodged and POAL has committed to not making any such application until the completion of the Port Study.
- These consents add 0.4 hectares (4,290m2) to the existing Bledisloe 2 Wharf structure and 0.33 hectares (3,300m2) to the existing Bledisloe 3 Wharf structure.
- These consents were assessed and consented last year under the operational Regional Coastal Plan rules for the port, inherited from the former Auckland Regional Council, and as such could not be legally declined nor could they be publicly notified, as the structures were a controlled activity.
- Any application for reclamation between the consented wharf extensions will need to go through a full consenting process however at this stage the council is not expecting to receive any reclamation applications.
The go forward
- The council undertook to do a comprehensive study on the future of the port at the completion of the Unitary Plan in 2016.
- The Mayor has instructed council staff to begin work on this study early.
- This study will look at a full range of options for accommodating increasing demand for ports services if necessary.
- It will take account of all relevant social, environmental and economic considerations as well as the wider implications for other Upper North Island ports.
- The results of this comprehensive study will inform how the council responds to any applications after the Unitary Plan has been made operative.
- Right now the focus is only on providing a set of rules for the unitary plan that sets out how to control any reclamation and wharf extension work within the port precinct.
- The council position is to strengthen the rules around reclamation, compared with the current rules.
- There are still a number of steps to go in the unitary plan process. It is important that council does not predetermine its final decision at this stage. The council must remain open to considering all matters raised by submitters during this process.
- This is a legal process and as such operates under clear legal requirements.
Source: Auckland Council
The Rules which are to go to mediation
The policies are as listed in the General Coastal Marine zone for the CMA in the precinct in addition to those specified below.
The general policies 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11 for the centres and mixed use zones and the General Business and Business Park zone apply to land within the precinct in addition to those specified below.
The City Centre zone policies 5 – 9, 11, 16 – 17, 19, 21 and – 23 apply to land within the precinct in addition to those specified below.
10. Provide for further reclamation to be undertaken, only if:
a. there is no practicable alternative
b. it will provide a significant regional benefit
c. it is the most appropriate form of development
d. potential adverse effects will be avoided, remedied or mitigated.
11. Provide for minor reclamation that is carried out as part of rehabilitation or remedial works of an existing reclamation or CMA structure, while avoiding, remedying or mitigating any adverse effects on the environment.
12. Avoid further reclamation within the precinct until the results of a study on the future operation and development of the port clearly identifies whether and when further reclamation is required to enable that future operation
I will update as it happens