Boffa Miskell denies conflict
Outer Pelorus Sound residents fighting New Zealand King Salmon expansion plans suggest consulting company Boffa Miskell has compromised loyalties.
The suggestion was made on Friday at the Environmental Protection Authority hearing in Blenheim of the King Salmon application to develop nine new fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds. It was the 15th days of the hearing, which continues today at the Civic Theatre.
Lawyer Julian Ironside questioned consultant Frank Boffa about landscape effects of the application.
Mr Ironside represents landowners from the Waitata Reach, where King Salmon has applied to farm fish at four prohibited sites, and at White Horse Rock, where aquaculture is allowed. His clients opposed King Salmon plans to farm salmon at White Horse Rock at earlier hearings before the Marlborough District Council and the Environment Court, he said.
King Salmon had since bundled the White Horse Rock site into its EPA application and his clients were still fighting.
In 2009 Christchurch-based Boffa Miskell consultant James Bentley simultaneously worked on a landscape study for the Marlborough District Council and was an expert for King Salmon when it applied to farm salmon at White Horse Rock, Mr Ironside said.
"You can imagine our jaundiced view when slightly before the Environment Court hearing we heard that all of the headlands on the western side of Waitata Reach were identified [by Boffa Miskell] as outstanding natural landscapes, except the White Horse Rock headland," Mr Whiteside said.
Mr Boffa said he took Mr Benley's place on the council's landscape project to avoid this potential conflict of interest.
Boffa Miskell recommended that the council remove the Kaitira headland, where King Salmon has applied to build a fish farm, from its list of outstanding landscapes, and add Te Kopi Point. Both are in the Waitata Reach. There was no change for the White Horse Rock headland.
Environmental Defence Society landscape expert Stephen Brown described White Horse Rock as an outstanding natural area, apart from a small area with a permit for mussel farming. Told by Mr Ironside that there were no active aquaculture permits for the area, he was willing to describe the whole point as outstanding.
Earlier in the hearing, council lawyer Stephen Quinn pulled up Boffa Miskell for removing the outstanding landscape status from the Queen Charlotte Sound side of Kaitapeha Peninsula, where King Salmon has applied to site a farm. The status remained on the Tory Channel side of the peninsula.
Mr Boffa said the change was made because vegetation on the north side of the peninsula was inferior.
Questioned by Conservation Department lawyer Eleanor Jamieson, Mr Boffa said salt spray and wind probably stunted growth on the exposed north side.
Ms Jamieson said the peninsula was a single landscape and protected scenic reserve.
A transcript of the hearing shows the Marlborough council awarded Boffa Miskell the contract for the Marlborough Landscape Study in 2008 and completed a first draft in May 2009. In January 2010 a member of the Boffa Miskell study team representing the council on a mussel farm appeal in Port Gore shifted outstanding natural landscape boundaries at Port Gore and Kaitepeha.
The council was told of these changes on February 3, 2010.
- The Marlborough Express