News from WPW
The Surfbreak Protection Society, New Zealand’s national surfers’ environmental organisation, is opposing Wellington Airport’s application for resource consent to extend its runway because of the impact it will have on surfing and the surfing environment on Wellington’s South Coast.
Michael Gunson of the SPS says community groups, local businesses and individuals need to get informed about the proposed extension and what it could mean to their quality of life.
“This project will unfortunately not return the benefits that the Airport and the City Council are promoting. Given the events of the last week, it is even more important that a project of this size, which is heavily reliant on public funding to get it across the line, is put under proper scrutiny. Something that has not happened yet.
“In addition to the worrying economic figures that came out of the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s report last month, saying that the estimated cost of the extension would be $428m but likely to rise to almost $500m, compared to the Airport’s estimation of $300m, SPS are focusing their concerns on the impacts to the surfing at Lyall Bay.
“Both the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council have quietly reported that there will be a complete loss of the Airport Rights surf break as a rare wave break, and The Corner surf break could be reduced by 0.8m in height.
“The Airport’s mitigation plan is to install an artificial swell focus reef but there is insufficient data to prove the safety and effectiveness of this technology.
“There is no proof that this reef can work, and there is no acknowledgement by the Airport that the artificial reef will impact adversely on a number of existing peaks in Lyall Bay, and offers unknown consequences for the remainder.
“The Airport’s consultants DHI are still unable to submit a final design that can avoid impacts on the Corner surf break, at the eastern end of the bay.
“The technical reports lodged with the Airport’s application do not acknowledge the nine or so surf breaks as outstanding natural features that contribute to Lyall Bay’s Natural Character (as recognised in the GWRC Proposed Natural Resources Plan and New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement).
“The Greater Wellington Regional Council has identified and mapped areas of high natural character, a requirement under policy 13.1(c) of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (by mapping or otherwise identifying at least areas of high natural character).
“The Airport have hired a consultant to prescribe that the open coastal waters of Lyall Bay have natural character values of moderate to low, and low to very low, in the areas where Lyall Bay’s surf breaks are present.
“It is the enjoyment, use, experience, and appreciation of Lyall Bay’s features by the local communities in and around the bay which sets the level of natural character and not the Airport’s consultant.”
SPS is urging other Wellington surfers who made submissions on the proposed extension to file their form under section 274 stating they would like to appear in the Environment Court and speak to their submissions.
“We know it can seem complicated but it is important that surfers have their say about the proposal. We would urge people to file the form and speak to their submissions in the Environment Court, it is hugely important that they file their s274 form before the Friday deadline.
“Of the 776 submissions made on the Airport’s resource consent application in August, 525 were opposed to the runway extension. But to speak to that submission, you also need to file a separate form. A form is available at guardiansofthebays.org.nz.”
“Despite the huge majority of local community and environmental groups who are against this proposal, under resourced individuals are having to self-fund the scrutiny that really should have happened at a Council level a long time ago. The Airport received $3m of rate-payers’ money to pull together their application.
“As a national organisation we find it disappointing that it falls to the community to do the research, put forward the resources and engage the expertise to address the serious environmental, social and economic impacts of the proposed runway extension, while the Wellington City Council, whose role it is act in the best interests of their city, are channelling funds to support the big businesses.”
The deadline for filing an s274 form is Friday.
“We strongly urge those who wish to join us in opposing the extension to file their s274 forms as soon as possible.”