TRC: It's a port storm in a teacup
Increased security measures at Port Taranaki remain unclear, with Taranaki Regional Council saying the situation has been blown out of proportion.
In a recent victim impact statement to the New Plymouth District Court, Port Taranaki said repeated security breaches by Greenpeace over the past 2 years could lead to new fences and security measures to make the facility safer.
"The recreational value of the beach and the open access to the waters of the harbour is today a privilege enjoyed by our community which has been put in jeopardy by the actions of Greenpeace," the statement said.
The Taranaki Daily News went to Port Taranaki and the council yesterday in an attempt to clarify some of the security measures that may occur, and to find out how the public would be affected.
Port Taranaki chief executive Roy Weaver declined to comment, while council chairman Basil Chamberlain said he was concerned at the way the story had been "ramped up" in the media.
"I can't quite believe where the story has gathered momentum because I think it's a story that's not a story," he said.
"Seemingly, this commenced from someone reading a victim impact statement that has been taken out of context and ramped up, and is unsettling a number of people in a very unfortunate way."
Mr Chamberlain said it was not the council's place to comment on port security, as it was solely Port Taranaki's responsibility.
When asked whether it was possible security would not increase, he agreed.
Port Taranaki has been operating at Maritime Security Level 1 since July 2004, which is the level set for normal operating conditions.
Port Taranaki is in strict compliance with its legal obligations under this security level.
Following the sentencing of Lucy Lawless and seven others at the New Plymouth District Court earlier this month, Mr Weaver said the higher the risk of security breaches, the tighter its security measures needed to be.
Mr Weaver said if the risk to shipping rose because of Greenpeace's actions, "then both our international trade links and our open public access policy may well be threatened unless we increase security to combat the threat".
Taranaki Daily News