Bid for new mussel farm declined

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 05:00 08/07/2014

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An independent planning commissioner has turned down a proposal for a large mussel farm in Pelorus Sound's Beatrix Bay.

Shona Kenderdine said the proposal provided potentially positive social and economic effects, but there were adverse effects that were more than minor.

The proposed 8-hectare site was in the coastal marine zone for marine farming but there were other values in the area that required recognition, she said.

It did not maintain the quality of the environment of Beatrix Bay, which was "a greenfields one providing a prominent headland for navigators and a productive coastal environment for recreationalists in all their forms".

Having a marine farm for greenshell mussels, blue mussels, scallops, dredge oysters, and certain algae would cause issues for public access to the coastal marine area and navigation around a prominent headland, Kenderdine said.

"It might be managed by an experienced mariner but for the less experienced there will be a heightened risk."

There was a reef in the Beatrix Bay popular with people wanting to dive or fish for cod. Kenderdine said public access to the proposed farm site and its proximity to an important destination for recreationalists required that the access be maintained.

"On the evidence, this will be problematic and the proposal on this site should be avoided altogether."

The proposal did not sufficiently protect the natural character of the site in a way that protected the recreational and social well-being of the community, she said. The adverse effects on the environment in terms of navigational aspects, natural character values, landscape and seascape values, and visual and recreational amenity were more than minor.

"In weighing all these considerations, I conclude that the sustainable management of 8 hectares of this part of the coastal environment in Beatrix Bay is not achieved."

Consequently, consent for a marine farm for greenshell mussels and other species was refused, Kenderdine said.

The farm was applied for by the RJ Davidson Family Trust and was to have been operated by Clearwater Mussels, a Havelock-based mussel company. Trust representative Rob Davidson was unable to be contacted yesterday.

Beatrix Bay already has 38 marine farms, each an average of 8ha, with more than 15 per cent of total water space allocated.

Meanwhile, independent planning commissioner John Maasen granted consent for two mussel farms, one in Skiddaw Bay and one in Tawhitinui Reach.

Maasen said the locations were appropriate for marine farming, and the effects would generally be minor. cathie.bell@mex.co.nz

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