The Surfbreak Protection Society (SPS) is very concerned that Wellington International Airport Ltd is attempting to railroad through its runway extension by way of the Environment Court, seeing it has not yet yall Bay made convincing arguments through articulated scientific-based debate.
In March, SPS questioned the sincerity of WIAL’s proposed mitigation of a swell focussing reef, while at the same time the airport company were seeking the deletion of policies that protect surf breaks, by way of WIAL’s submission to the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Proposed Natural Resources Plan (PNRP).
WIAL have yet again demonstrated their statement of intent, in pursuing the deletion of protection for the region’s surf breaks, and in particular, Lyall Bay’s revered Corner surf break in the PNRP, by way of a further submission to the plan.
In plain words, WIAL are telling surfers that the company is obligated to protect Lyall Bay’s surfing amenity “overall”, yet on the other hand, are aggressively attacking the very legal obligations for them to do so, by seeking these policy changes.
SPS, along with the Wellington Boardriders Club and other concerned local surfers, have been consulting with WIAL since May last year. WIAL submitted to the PNRP on 25 September, but would have been working on their submission long before that.
The attack on surfbreak policies, combined with WIAL ignoring the recommendations of our proven adaptive management plan conditions sought through consultation, leaves the future of Lyall Bay’s surf breaks at substantial risk.
To that end, SPS can have no confidence in the overtures made to Wellington’s surfing community by WIAL’s External Relations and Marketing Manager about WIAL’s promises in perpetuity, to maintain and if possible enhance Lyall Bay’s surfing amenity value.
“A robust Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) is essential, especially for a project of this magnitude, yet the design concepts for the swell focus structure in the middle of Lyall Bay differ significantly from one preliminary report to the next,” says SPS research and communications officer Mike Gunson.
WIAL are offering a “notion” of what may be possible without applying proper precautionary principles in the Coastal Marine Area, and expecting the Wellington surfing community to have faith in WIAL’s “desired outcomes.”
SPS are of the view that WIAL’s “rush job” on forcing the issue without true and proper public debate, along with impact assessment studies that raise more red flags than they answer, leaves SPS with no alternative than to reject WIAL’s proposed airport extension and focus reef structure.
SPS recognise that the Guardians of the Bays have continuously put up articulated debate on a number of points about the impacts and viability of the proposed extension, as have SPS and our scientific/legal counsel regarding the significant impacts on surfing.
SPS asks: if this is such an important infrastructure development for the region, why is WIAL aggressively shutting down articulated debate? SPS looks forward to a close working relationship between ourselves and Guardians of the Bays.
SPS encourages the NZ surfing community to contribute to the Guardians of the Bay Givealittle fundraiser as a first line of defence for Lyall Bay’s surf breaks.
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