'Heartbroken' by state of the bay

03:09, Mar 05 2014
Janet Clark
WATER QUALITY: ‘‘How can we expect our grandchildren to swim in this muck and mess,’’ says long-time resident Janet Clark.

It's madness.

That's how signatories to a group submission describe Far North Holdings' growth plan for Opua.

Nearly 60 people signed the submissionlodged with the Northland Regional Council before its deadline on Friday.

Some say they are heartbroken to see the bay in its present state.

Janet Clark has lived in a remote part of what she says was a marine paradise before the marina was built.

"My husband and I stand on the water's edge and cry. We can't allow our grandchildren to swim here. We can't risk the disease.

"Flounder spearing is no longer an option because of the silt. We no longer see dolphins that used to swim past, especially in winter." She says there has been a dramatic impact on her lifestyle in spite of assurances given at the time the marina was developed.

"We can't swim, we can't net, rowing to Opua is a navigational hazard. There is nowhere to land our boat. Shellfish we used to eat are no longer on our menu."

She believes the company's expansion plan will further damage the bay and says the Northland Regional Council has failed to monitor the marine environment and used inappropriate methods to clean up abandoned oyster farms.

"We warned them. We wrote letters."

Jim Ashby, founder of Ashby's boatyard, has lived in Opua for 45 years. He is a strong advocate for retaining moorings in their present location.

"I am not totally against development proposals, but I have reservations of the regional council's ability to govern in a way that is in the public interest in relation to monitoring. And I think that Far North Holdings is very greedy in terms of the extent of what they want to do."

He says the size of the project is ill conceived and way out of kilter.

"What Far North Holdings has done is raise the ire of a lot of people. Every time you concentrate boats in a smaller area, water quality declines. It's a known fact."

And he warns that other parts of the bay such as Doves Bay are next in line.

Northland Regional Council councillors Dover Samuels and Craig Brown were taken on a boat tour of the area last week.

Mr Samuels says he has confidence in the resource consents process.

"The hearings committee will be looking very carefully at the environmental impacts.

"At the end of the day all the evidence will be available for the commissioner and I am confident they will address all perspectives.

All these things have to be taken into consideration."

Far North Holdings chief executive Andy Nock declined to comment about signatories' concerns regarding the growth plan.

"The Moorings and Marinas Strategy is a Northland Regional Council document. It is not my place to comment on a third party submission to NRC," he says.

The Northland Regional Council has received 129 submissions on its Moorings and Marinas Strategy.




Opua resident Kevin Johnson has asked the Minister for the Environment for a judicial review, on the grounds that

● No Environmental impact assessment has been done

● No business case has been presented to the public.

● Fears that there may not be a fair hearing as the former chief executive officer of Far North Holdings is now chief executive officer of the NRC.

Marina expansion: Far North Holdings plans a $13 million, 173 berth extension of the present 250-berth Opua Marina.

Consent is sought for dredging in a 65,200 sq m area, removal of swing moorings and placement of new pile moorings in a different area and reclamation inside a seawall.


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