Stop rubble fill work, port ordered
Lyttelton Port of Christchurch has been ordered to stop dumping earthquake rubble in the harbour in breach of its consent.
Under state of emergency powers the port had believed it was allowed to take bricks, masonry and concrete cleared from demolished buildings to add to the eastern end of its earthquake-damaged Cashin Quay wharf system.
About 100 trucks a day had been transporting rubble on to the site as part of reclamation work. It is not known how many days this occurred.
Civil Defence national controller John Hamilton yesterday confirmed the dumping had stopped after the port was advised of the breach.
The port had been given verbal permission to clear material from the damaged wharf, but consent to dump Christchurch rubble had been declined, he said.
"There was a misunderstanding about the extent of the consent [granted]," Hamilton said.
The port was now "quite clear" about the consent conditions. No action would be taken and the material would not need not to be recovered, he said.
Port company chief executive Peter Davie was not available for comment, but said in a statement that some of the issues were "still to be clarified".
Lyttelton Harbour Business Association chairman Andrew Turner said he was told at a meeting with Civil Defence yesterday that the port was given consent only to strengthen the breakwater, using rubble from Lyttelton.
The company did not have consent for land reclamation, he said.
"The national controller, John Hamilton, clearly believes that he hasn't given consent for that action to occur.
"His feeling clearly is that there was no intention to issue a consent for reclamation and no such consent has been given.
"That doesn't change the fact that a large amount of rubble has already been dumped in the harbour.
"That represents an action that wouldn't normally have been able to happen, for which the national controller didn't give consent and which could well have environmental repercussions for some time."
In 2009 the port company applied for consents for reclamation in the Te Awaparahi Bay area as part of an eastwards expansion.
Davie said this week the port had requested a hold on the consent process through the Environment Court during the urgent earthquake recovery phase. There had been objections lodged, but the port still believed reclamation eastwards was a good option. Turner said there could have been miscommunication in these "strange and unusual times", but the port had been keen to expand to the east for some time.
"If there is an opportunity for them to do that, it's fair to say they've taken it. Whether they thought the consent allowed them to do that or not is obviously a matter for the port company to comment on."
Port Hills member of Parliament Ruth Dyson, who also attended yesterday's meeting, said the verbal consent may have created confusion about what was permitted.
Quake rubble could be stored until the proper consents were granted, she said.
"If the port company want to get cheap fill, I'm sure there'll be plenty around."