Developers, residents in disagreement over marina

Last updated 05:00 22/05/2014
artist marina sketch

PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT: An artist’s impression of the $13M capital cost of the marina expansion.

Opua Marina
EXISTING MARINA: One of the country’s few flushing harbours. Riverside residents blame the existing marina for changes in waterflow, resulting in siltation and erosion.

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Seven meetings have failed to produce an agreement between Far North Holdings and the Opua Community Liaison Committee about a proposed $13 million expansion to the Opua marina.

Five out of six members of the elected community committee have rejected a draft memorandum of understanding and last week they lodged individual objections to the council controlled company's Resource Consent application.

Submissions closed on Friday.

People in Opua are angry, community representative Kevin Johnson says.

"I was once open to be convinced about this ratepayer backed project. That is no longer the case and I intend to oppose it strenuously."

He accuses Far North Holdings of lack of transparency and by-passing local democracy.

Many people support the proposed development, Far North Holdings chief executive Andy Nock says.

"I am disappointed that they rejected the draft. An economic model by an independent firm has indicated that some $23m would remain in the Far North in a year and 67 more jobs could be created in Opua. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and we are still open to negotiation," he says.

The community committee is concerned that the company has assumed the marina will be an economic panacea for the area, giving little detail.

"No financial projections or detailed cost benefit analysis have been shown to the public. Local residents wish to be reassured that they will not be required to subsidise boat parking for Auckland and overseas visitors as well as propping up ailing local businesses with their rates?" Johnson says.

There is no doubt among riverside residents that the existing marina has altered the flow of the river and damaged their homes and way of life, he says.

Nock rejects this.

Monitoring of water quality is done regularly at the marina and there is no change to the seabed there, he says.

He suggests run-off from land is responsible for siltation towards Kawakawa.

Members of the committee disagree and question the terms of reference of studies undertaken. They have appealed to Far North Mayor John Carter and Northland Regional Council chairman Bill Shepherd to get involved.

But Shepherd says it would be inappropriate of him to attend meetings on moorings and marinas' issues at this time. He advises people with immediate environmental/pollution issues to refer them to staff for action. Councillors will be happy to meet with the public about wider environmental issues related to moorings and marinas in the Opua area once the council's Moorings and Marinas Strategy is complete. It is expected to be adopted in July.

And Carter says he will meet with the group when Shepherd is available.

The impact of the new development will transform an industrial marina into a tourism hub, adding to the Opua-Kawakawa link with its railway and cycleway, Nock says.

However the community committee is not confident about environmental safeguards and calls for a full environmental impact assessment before any Resource Consent consideration.

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