Bird worry in beach plan

IN DANGER: New Zealand dotterels breed on North Shore’s Shoal Bay.
IN DANGER: New Zealand dotterels breed on North Shore’s Shoal Bay.

Endangered wildlife could be at risk if plans to revive two North Shore beaches go ahead, Forest and Bird says.

The Retrieving Shoal Bay project is spearheaded by Garth Falconer of Reset Urban Design who wants to open up 4.5 kilometres of Sulphur and City of Cork beaches on the eastern side of the northern motorway to the public.

Trails connecting Kaipatiki to Devonport-Takapuna will be linked to the harbour bridge walkway if it goes ahead.

But Forest and Bird North Shore chairman Richard Hursthouse says a number of dotterels successfully breed on the eastern side.

Shoal Bay is home to New Zealand and banded dotterels.

There are roughly 1700 New Zealand dotterel remaining.

Mr Hursthouse, a member of Forest and Bird for 30 years and on the North Shore committee for four years, says the motorway keeps predators such as rats, stoats and dogs at bay.

The dotterels "were here before us", and the public is legally obliged to protect them, he says.

Public access is already available from the Devonport side of Shoal Bay, he says.

The public needs walking and cycle tracks but the northern walkway proposal for Tuff Crater on the Akoranga side may suffice, Mr Hursthouse says.

And there would be no swimming at Shoal Bay as the area is all mudflats, Mr Hursthouse says.

Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh and Devonport-Takapuna chairman Chris Darby have taken the preliminary concept to Auckland Council's transport committee.

Ms Waugh says all ecological matters would be considered if the plan goes ahead.

Mr Darby, who is also a member of Forest and Bird, says it is a "preliminary concept for an idea that is well overdue".

The intention is not to ignore the dotterels but work with experts to protect them, he says.

One possible condition would be a ban on off-leash dogs.

North Shore Times