Originally published on Scoop

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.”

Link here.

The Regional Council last week released a 165-page staff report analysing Wellington Airport’s application for permission to extend its runway.

The report, on the airport’s resource consent application, confirms that of the 776 submissions received, 527 were against the runway extension, 227 were in support of it (either in full or in part), and there were 18 neutral submissions and four conditional.

The airport is seeking permission for reclamation work to be carried out seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The proposed construction programme indicates that reclamation filling could take between 5 and 18 months depending on the source of material. The entire project will take up to four years.

The report refers to 310 trucks per day taking loads from quarries to the reclamation site:

Traffic emissions during construction will arise from trucks transporting fill material to the construction zones at the airport and construction vehicles at the airport construction site…The applicant considers that it is unlikely that there will be any measurable changes in vehicle related combustion emissions from 310 trucks per day…. [An expert] has advised that the covering of loads is “best practice and will satisfactorily mitigate potential fugitive dust over the haul route.”

Though no final decision seems to have yet been made on the use of barges, the airport is expecting that:

between 15 – 25 barges (i.e. 30 – 50 two way movements) will be required to operate each day (over an 18 hour period) over a 5 – 18 month period.

Barges transporting fill material to the construction site will follow the existing shipping route within Wellington Harbour to a point opposite Pencarrow Head. From there, barges will travel across the harbour entrance and around to the construction zone. It is intended that this route on the east side of the bay entrance will minimise disruption to recreational activities in the bay such as surfing, kiteboarding and stand-up paddle boarding.

Among concerns raised in the staff report is the effect of runway reclamation on the city’s wastewater outfall:

The Moa Point wastewater treatment plant coastal outfall passes through the area of the proposed reclamation. In the early phases of the work it is proposed to construct a protection structure over the outfall pipe to avoid damage due to the placement of the dyke and reclamation fill.

And here are the concerns:

The construction of a protection structure over the MOP has the potential for adverse effects on the environment should the works result in damage to the MOP, specifically the discharge of treated wastewater into the CMA at the works location. Further, the runway extension construction works could impact the interceptor main and sludge pipeline.

The application states that the effects of the reclamation construction on the MOP include loading stress on the pipeline and settlement of sediment/gravels under the pipeline. However, the application does not outline the consequences of damage to the pipeline and potential pollution of Lyall Bay of wastewater should this occur. Nor does the applicant recognise the potential for adverse effects on other infrastructure, specifically the interceptor main nd sludge pipeline.

Concerns from the Wellington City Council are described:

Construction activities … could affect the sludge pipeline (which carries sludge to the Southern Landfill) that generally follows Moa Point Road and the wastewater interceptor main under the southern end of the existing
runway that carries sewage to the WWTP. The sludge pipeline is a high
pressure pipeline and any damage or breach of it will result in significant adverse effects on the environment.

In their submission, WCC seek the protection of the pipeline, inceptor main and sludge pipeline in both their physical extents and their operational and maintenance capabilities. The submitter (WCC) states that any damage to the outfall or restriction in being able to maintain and operate the outfall has the potential to cause significant costs to the community in both monetary and environment…

[The city council is] not convinced that ‘burying’ the MOP under the runway reclamation is an acceptable result. A more detailed outline of the process to agree the mitigation and timing of its implementation is considered to be required in the consent conditions.

The airport’s view:

… the MOP will either be protected in place or realigned so that it will not be impacted by the reclamation. It will be up to the form of contract and the final construction programme whether moving (which will require additional consents) or protecting the outfall takes place prior to or concurrent with marine based reclamation works.

The report uses diplomatic words in its summaries. Here’s one of the summaries.

The proposed runway extension and SWFS will likely result in minor
effects in relation to physical disturbance and loss of habitat;

Construction noise, vibration and light will likely result in minor effects on
mammals and fish;

Sediment discharges during ground improvement work, placement of the
rock dyke, earthworks to remove the hillock and as a result of dewatering will likely result in minor effects;

Adverse effects from the proposal on the Taputeranga Reserve are likely to be less than minor.

Over 200 submissions raised concern about construction and operational noise. The report identifies the effect of the construction work on recreational users in the Lyall Bay area. They

… will be exposed to construction and haul route noise. Recreational users on Moa Point Road and beach and the breakwater will experience the highest level of construction noise (up to 60 dB) and haul route noise (61 dB).

But not to worry.

In summary, provided the applicant complies with the recommended conditions of consent, we consider the effects of construction noise on recreational users of the CMA in Lyall Bay will be less than minor.


Effects on recreational users of the CMA at Moa Point is likely to be more than minor given its close proximity to the construction site. Albeit temporary (up to 48 months) construction noise will likely impact recreational amenity in this area

Other effects are identified, including fishing:

The temporary exclusion zone around the proposed runway extension construction site will restrict access to approximately half of the area used for gathering seafood between Moa Point and Hue-te-taha Peninsula during construction (3-4 years).

and surfing:

Access to the surf break Airport Rights will be lost permanently from commencement of the proposed runway construction.

Expert advice from Dr Michael Steven states:

I consider short term effects on water-based recreational activities, such as surfing and gathering kai moana to be more than minor within the areas of the exclusion zones. For some recreationists, such as surfers, adverse effects from the SWFS exclusion zone may be unacceptably adverse in the short term, and unable to be mitigated.
For expert surfers, the loss of the Airport Rights break may be regarded as an unacceptable outcome, and an outcome that is beyond the potential of the SWFS to mitigate.
In summary, we consider the effects on surfing amenity as a result of the proposed runway extension will be more than minor because the Airport Rights surf break will be completely lost and the three other surf spots in Lyall Bay could have a reduction in characteristic surf rides of between 14-29%.

Dr Steven has also advised:

The proposed runway extension will result in highly adverse effects on the biophysical landscape/seascape in Lyall Bay east/Moa Point embayment (compared to the moderate rating applied by the applicant) given the proposal involves a total loss of 10.8ha of marine environment and its replacement with a terrestrial form.

For residents on Moa Point Road and the beach at Moa Point, I consider the effects on views from this area to be extreme, and unable to be remedied or mitigated. As such, I regard these effects as significant and unacceptably adverse.

Another expert considers the effects of the proposal on coastal bird habitat and says these will be more than minor and the potential effects on regional bird populations as a result of increased birdstrike could be significant.

The report however contains no analysis or criticism of the economic benefits being claimed for the longer runway:

With construction costs excluded, the economic wellbeing of the Wellington region has been assessed to improve by $1billion on the most likely scenario, even if that community were to fund the entire cost of the project through local and central taxes. The applicant acknowledges that how the runway extension would be funded is still to be determined.

The Regional Council’s report, in full, is here.

By Michael Gunson


WIAL’s grand plan for Lyall Bay’s surf breaks:

The Surf break Protection Society (SPS) would like to think that its submission opposing Wellington International Airport Limited (WIAL)’s airport extension and artificial swell focus reef is the cause of the airport company’s decision to suspend and revise its consent application. The reality is probably that the society’s submission is only one of a number of high quality submissions that have led WIAL to suspend the process.

After recent investigations and inquiries by SPS, WIAL have stated that they have no plans to increase the Moa Point Rd seawall, next to the Corner surf break, during the next 12 months.

This has come as a bit of a surprise to Wellington surfers, as it was assumed these works since 2000 had been undertaken by the Wellington City Council, not the largely privatised WIAL. The works on the seawall are undoubtedly having an adverse effect on the Corner surf break, Wellington’s most popular surfing venue. These works coincide with WIAL seeking the deletion of the Corner surf break from the GWRC Natural Resources Plan (PNRP)’s schedule of regionally significant surf breaks.

WIAL have been modifying the Moa Point Rd seawall next to the Corner surf break utilising a permitted rule under the old existing GWRC Regional Coastal Plan (Dude, this means WIAL don’t have to ask anyone to throw rocks over the seawall!).

The existing Regional Coastal Plan is soon to be replaced with the new Proposed Natural Resources Plan (PNRP). The PNRP specifically incorporates surf break protection policies, compliant with the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010.

The works on the seawall have changed the behaviour of swell approaching the Corner surf break, by changing the slope angle, which now absorbs much of the swell energy traveling along the seawall.

Over the last 6 years or more, the works have continued with an increased frequency/scale, impacting on surfing wave quality at the Corner surf break.

A number of Wellington’s surfers are also confused as to what WIAL is actually offering by way of the airport company only mitigating for the impacts of the proposed airport extension on Lyall Bay’s surf breaks.

WIAL’s Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) for the consent application (page 137) states that “Avoiding or reducing the effects of the proposed runway extension on surfing amenity is difficult to achieve without impacting the length of the runway extension.”

So instead of avoiding or remedying effects on the Corner (and acknowledged significant effects on the Bay’s middle and western surf breaks) WIAL’s application to the Environment Court is only in the context of mitigation, the lowest response available under the RMA (aside from doing nothing).


WIAL’s own desktop modelling indicates an adverse effect on Wellington’s most popular “Corner” surf break, which the airport company contests is only minimal.

The possible reduction of wave rides at “The Corner” is likely to only be noticeable by the most seasoned and experienced surfers who have surfed “The Corner” for many years (WIAL AEE).

The peer review of WIAL’s technical report acknowledges that the effects of wave-driven currents on the Corner are also an unknown factor.

WIAL’s DHI technical report does not take into account the cumulative effects of a replacement sea wall, and CentrePort’s proposed dredge disposal grounds off Fitzroy Bay on the Corner surf break, as these activities are not part of the airport extension consent applications.

WIAL is still unwilling to undertake a degree of baseline monitoring necessary to gauge the overall adverse effects on the Corner surf break. (Note that seeing they have already impacted on the surf quality, even a baseline would show it to be worse than it previously was).

WIAL have given an undertaking that when they provide a final design concept for the artificial swell focus reef (not yet provided in WIAL’s AEE), the focus reef structure itself, will not have an adverse effect on the Corner. This is utterly meaningless unless WIAL understand the baseline conditions, the natural processes that form the surf break, and environmental influences that impact on the break, like modifying the seawall (which they don’t).

Artificial swell focus reefs are an unproven technology, there is not one working example anywhere in the world designed specifically for surfing.

What happens if the artificial surf focus reef fails?

It doesn’t really seem to matter, because WIAL will have their airport extension and any response required will be guided simply by the objectives, rules, and policies in the GWRC Proposed Natural Resources Plan (PNRP) that protect the Corner surf break, and all other surf breaks of Lyall Bay. Unless WIAL’s submission to the PNRP is successful of course…

WIAL have submitted decisively in opposition to these surf break protections in the PNRP, and there is every indication that WIAL will appeal these protections for the Corner surf break through an Environment Court process entirely separate to the airport company’s consent applications.

The hearings for the PNRP are due in March next year, and the suspension for the WIAL airport extension application has lent WIAL a helpful timeframe to test its submission seeking the deletion of the Corner surf break from the PNRP schedule of regionally significant surf breaks, before the airport extension consent applications begin.

WIAL need the Corner deleted to provide a mitigation offset for the airport extension, a promenade with a new rock-armoured seawall down the length of Moa Point Rd with viewing platforms, and a reworked breakwater (WIAL AEE).

In WIAL’s submission to the GWRC PNRP, the company has comprehensively sought the deletion of the Corner surf break from all references in the plan, and there is every possibility that WIAL would be prepared for a trade-off in not pursuing the deletion of surf break policies totally in the PNRP, simply for the removal of the Corner surf break, from the PNRP’s schedule of regionally significant surf breaks.

WIAL are also seeking a new rule in the PNRP under 5.7.6Seawalls. Specifically for the replacement of existing seawalls they are seeking that it be a permitted activity status (that means that the public would not be consulted and no consent or public notification is required).

WIAL are also contesting in part the existing rule 165, specifically that part which lists the schedule of regionally-significant surf breaks as a matter of control – in this case meaning that works must ensure no adverse effects occur on the Corner surf break.

In other words: Dude, WIAL don’t want to look out for the Corner surf break as they keep dumping rocks off the seawall, and are opposing any rules that mean they would have too.

Under the existing regional coastal plan the rules on structures (seawalls) that WIAL have been using come with conditions that: Any maintenance, repair, replacement extension, addition or alteration to or of any existing lawful structure adds no more than 5 metres in horizontal projection and 1 metre in vertical projection measured from the structure existing at 29 June 1994 (the date of public notification of that Plan as a proposed plan).

The New PNRP that replaces the old Regional Coastal Plan resets the clock for the sea wall footprint as of 31 July 2015, meaning that WIAL will be able to extend a further 5 metres into the sea – IF the Corner is not a consideration.

WIAL were reportedly adding to the Moa Point Road seawall footprint right up to that date in 2015, meanwhile, SPS and the Wellington Boardriders club were negotiating in good faith over avoiding adverse effects on the Corner surf break from the extension and swell focus reef.

During these consultations, WIAL’s Communications Manager Greg Thomas continued to deflect questions about the Corner surf break back toward the perceived benefits of the proposed artificial swell focus reef. Mr Thomas knew full well our concerns over impacts of modifications to the seawall on the Corner surf break.

Due to concerns raised by SPS, GWRC are now revising the works undertaken by WIAL along the Moa Point Rd seawall to ensure the airport company has been complying with the rules of the existing coastal plan.

If WIAL gets its way in the PNRP appeals process by eliminating the Corner surf break, the airport company will be able to build its new armoured Moa Point Rd sea wall (page 212, 283, WIAL AEE) without consulting surfers or the general public.

It should be noted that while the promenade and new seawall are in WIAL’s AEE for the airport extension, the consents for the promenade will be a separate consent application to Wellington City Council.

Unless WIAL’s submission is challenged there is the real potential that the new sea wall to provide viewing platforms down to sea level in WIAL’s AEE, being undertaken without any consultation or consideration of the Corner surf break.

This whole scenario provides a level of difficulty for surfers in debating cumulative effects on the Corner surf break through the airport extension environment court process.

WIAL are doing everything they can to walk away from its obligations to the Corner surf break, as perceived by the surfer dudes (including SPS) who were consulting with WIAL in good faith over the promise of an artificial swell focus reef.

WIAL’s desire is to complete these works related to the promenade and seawall prior to the construction of the airport extension being completed (AEE page 264).

Over the next fifteen years WIAL are seeking to progressively develop commercial activities with its sites on the Western apron, in the vicinity of the Corner surf break.

By all appearances it would seem that the existence of the Corner surf break conflicts with WIAL’s vision for this area.

If you have any historical photos of the Moa Point Rd seawall over the last fifteen years or so (with dates), please email them to info@surfbreak.org.nz and we will pass them on to the GWRC investigating officer.

SPS is committed to protecting the Corner and all surf breaks through the PNRP Environment Court appeal process, and the society will challenge this assault on the Corner, Airport Rights, and all of Lyall Bay’s surf breaks.

Dude, WIAL is not acting in good faith, if surfers fall for the carrot of an unproven artificial surf focus reef, and WIAL succeeds in removing the Corner from the schedule of regionally significant surf breaks, then the Airport company can simply walk away from any perceived obligations toward our Corner, and surfers will be asking themselves:

Dude, where’s my surf break?

by Michael Gunson

Link here
Revelations have emerged that Wellington International Airport Ltd has been responsible for alterations to the Moa Point Road sea wall in Lyall Bay. Why has the airport been in charge of developing the sea wall, and not the Wellington City Council?

The incremental creep of the sea wall has had a negative impact on Wellington’s premier Lyall Bay Corner surf break. WIAL are also applying for consents to build a 3 meter wide promenade the length of Moa Point Rd, as well as seeking the Corner surf break’s deletion, from a GWRC schedule of regionally significant surf breaks.

Since the beginning, the airport company has reassured Wellington surfers that it is doing all it can to preserve our surf breaks in Lyall Bay, to mitigate future impacts and even improve it. As we stare down the barrel of their proposed runway extension, it is now becoming clear to Wellington’s surfing community that this is not the case.

The 346-page Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) only discusses mitigation, not active avoidance or a plan to remedy adverse effects on the Corner.

WIAL has submitted 28 documents to the Wellington City Council (WCC) and the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and nowhere do they mention that they will seek to avoid or remedy adverse effects from the airport extension on the Lyall Bay Corner surf break (the Corner).

According to computer modelling conducted on behalf of WIAL by DHI Ltd, the construction of the airport extension will have negative impacts on the Corner’s surfing wave quality, yet DHI are unable to predict what effects would occur from wave driven currents e.g. sweep (longshore) and rip (outgoing cross shore) currents. This remains a big unknown.

The placement of an artificial swell focus reef also poses challenges, by creating adverse effects on the Corner, by way of interrupting the currents in the bay. The final design and placement of the reef needs further modelling and onsite instrumentation to find a way to avoid these extra adverse effects on the Corner.

WIAL have given a promise to Wellington surfers through their Surf Mitigation Adaptive Management Plan that the final concept design of the Swell Focus reef (which is only for the mitigation of surf in the west and center of Lyall Bay) will be in such a position and distance from the Corner that the proposed reef will avoid adverse effects on the Corner surf break.

The extension will still have adverse effects on the Corner surf break.

airport surf 2

Wellington surfers have been confused by WIAL’s public relations that the Corner will be looked after. A final design concept for the reef has not yet been provided. Yet even with the remodelling of the Moa Point rock wall over the last 15 years, surfers have been complaining of the loss of the rip that runs up along the inside of the wall, beside the Corner surf break, and how that has affected the Corner’s legendary peak.

WIAL AEE p199 states:

“’Airport Rights’ is a surf break which is only utilised a few times a year during certain conditions by experienced surfers. The loss of this surfing amenity will therefore only affect a small group of expert surfers. The possible reduction of wave rides at ‘The Corner’ is likely to only be noticeable by the most seasoned and experienced surfers who have surfed ‘The Corner’ for many years.”

But the Wellington Boardriders Club’s (WBC) own scientific advice states that WIAL’s proposed baseline monitoring data of at least two months’ worth, for the proposed future detailed modelling for surf amenity impact assessment and for the concept design phase for the proposed submerged wave focussing structure by WIAL, is not adequate, nor is the level and frequency of monitoring going forward suitable to identify any adverse effects from the extension, or focus reef on the Corner.

As far as mitigation goes – the Draft Surf Mitigation Adaptive Management Plan should not be considered adequate to satisfy Wellington Board riders, it is certainly not adequate for the Surfbreak Protection Society (SPS).


Surbreak Protection Society’s (SPS) President Paul Shanks is warning surfers that any submission in support of the untested, unknown, focus reef is a submission endorsing WIAL’s degradation of the Corner.

On top of a lack of data to support WIAL’s PR that there will be only minor adverse effects on the Corner, WIAL’s AEE page 136 – 7.3.9 states:

“The only adverse assessed change in coastal physical processes that has been identified relates to the reduction in a combination of wave heights and period in parts of Lyall Bay, particularly in the north eastern area of Lyall Bay adjacent to the revetment”

That’s the Corner surf break.

WIAL failed to inform surfers during the collaborative consultation (prior to Consent lodgement) that WIAL plan to build a promenade along Moa Point Road, interfering with the Corner surf break, extending all the way down to Lyall Parade, and encompassing the existing Corner car park, opposite the Spruce Goose Café. When queried about the promenade, WIAL gave a short answer that “all improvement works from the breakwater to Lyall Parade will be undertaken on existing land.”

So what about the separate consents held by the Wellington City Council for the purpose of the maintenance and extension of the Moa Point sea wall?

Compounding the issues with the proposed runway extension is the fact that there has been continuous deposition of rock along the Moa Point Road sea wall pursuant to resource consents granted to the Wellington City Council. The council holds two non-notified consents to conduct works along the sea wall; surfers and the public never had the opportunity to comment on them. Surfers have spoken out about this for years.

The effects from this dumping on the Corner waves for surfing have been noticeable since the nineties, with the change to the shape and form of the sea wall. This has affected the Corner as rock is deposited on top of the sea wall and then bulldozed into the Corner’s swell corridor (“Swell corridor” means the region offshore of a surf break where ocean swell travels and transforms to a “surfable wave”). Wave energy is now absorbed by the sea wall reducing the reflection back to the focused take off point for the Corner surf break, impacting on the “insane peak” that the Corner is renowned for.

The latest batch of rocks have been placed on the wall, right next to Lyall Bay’s best wave, and it’s anyone’s guess when that will be pushed over the wall. The last earthworks activity on the Wall was in 2015.

Moa Point Rd rock wall activity in 2012.

Moa Point Rd rock wall activity in 2012.


montage 4

Last week SPS alerted GWRC to the degradation of the Corner due to the dumped rocks and, upon the insistence of SPS, GWRC sought answers from the city council – SPS were shocked to discover that it appears as though it is not WCC degrading the Corner surf break, but rather WIAL has been undertaking these works. Whilst WCC holds consents that relate to the area in the corner of Lyall Bay Parade and Moa Point Road, WIAL does not hold consents to deposit material over the sea wall at the Corner surf break. SPS are seeking records of works undertaken under these consents, and whether there is any contract between WCC and WIAL for the airport company to exercise these consents on WCC’s behalf.

While these consents are legal, it is unfortunate that WIAL seem to be exercising these consents to potentially reclaim more of the seabed and foreshore at the expense of the Corner surf break, while their proposed promenade is to be built on “existing land”. Separate to the consents held by the city council.

Airport spokesperson John Kyle has given an assurance that no rock material will be pushed over the wall within the next 12 months, but there are questions that remain unanswered:

Who is in charge of managing the Moa Point Road sea wall after the new extension consents are issued?

Consent No. WGN010112 [20920] issued in 2001 gives the consent holder the right to extend the Western Sea Wall on Moa Point Road until 29 January 2036, and absolute authority to reclaim more of the Coastal Marine Area, to the detriment of the Corner surf break. What are WIAL’s plans for further reclamation by way of this consent?

Will the runway consents now being applied for give WIAL the right to continue degrading the Corner surf break in the name of securing the Moa Point Road access route to the airport?

The airport’s consent planner John Kyle has indicated that the city council sea wall consents are being exercised by the airport company. Is there is a conflict of interest here, with WIAL in charge of these sea wall reclamations that continue to degrade the Corner surf break, while at the same time, WIAL continue to pursue the deletion of the Corner surf break from the GWRC Proposed Natural Resources Plan.

GWRC have advised that if anyone witnesses any further works on the Moa Point Road sea wall, they should contact the GWRC environmental response team on 0800 496 734.

Returning to the application by WIAL to extend the runway, SPS believe that it is inadequate for WIAL to only propose mitigating adverse effects under amenity values and that this is an inappropriate response level for the impacts this project will deliver to Lyall Bay’s surf breaks. The application should be thrown out of court on this basis alone.

Under this paradigm, WIAL appear to be trading adverse effects on the Corner surf break simply by building an amenity feature, a promenade and the promise of an unproven technology in natural environments, a submerged swell focus structure. Perhaps this is why WIAL are ignoring the extension consent application’s compliance obligations in the context of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement’s surf break protection policies.

WIAL are seeking to have Lyall Bay surf breaks recognised under policies that only refer to amenity values that have less strength than surf break policies under the NZCPS.

While Lyall Bay could lose its Corner surf break, at least the surfers will have a lovely promenade to cycle, or walk their dog.

Time is running out. The runway extension is a massive risk to the enjoyment of Lyall Bay for surfers from Wellington, New Zealand and the rest of the world. Any Kiwis who identify themselves as being a surfer, should be writing a submission opposed to WIAL’s runway extension. Here is an easy way to do it online:

If you want to have your say on this, put in your submission by 12 August. Please clarify that you want to be heard in Court. The Surfbreak Protection Society is grateful for the opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Guardians of the Bays in opposing the runway extension outright.

Michael Gunson, Research Officer at Surfbreak Protection Society, is a long-time Wellington surfer


If you’ve ever had to go through customs in New Zealand, you’ll know they don’t f*ck around when it comes to protecting their unique environment. Have a little something spilled on your shoe and you’re as good as barred. But even in the land of the Long White Cloud, the wheels of progress grind ever forward.

On the southern tip of the north island there is a rising quarrel between the Wellington International Airport and local surfers. With a runway extension in the planning stages, adjacent Lyall Bay may soon find itself in the oncoming path of an Airbus.

For those short on New Zealand surf history, on March 7, 1915, a certain Duke Kahanamoku introduced wave shooting to a stunned Kiwi audience at Lyall Bay. “He stood right up on the board, while the latter shot along at a great speed,” reads an account from The Evening Post. “By careful steering he prolonged the shoot for a distance of 150 to 200 yards.”

We should all hope to prolong the shoot. Needless to say, Lyall Bay is the official birthplace of New Zealand surfing and today serves as the pressure valve for Wellington area surfers thanks to its myriad beach break options.

20121209 001

By no means the best surf action shot you’ve ever seen, but it does capture the (til now) harmony between the airport and the surfers.

The concern of the Surfbreak Protection Society (SPS), a group that is “dedicated to the conservation of the ‘treasures’ of the New Zealand surfing community,” is that the Wellington International Airport Ltd (WIAL) is attempting to force its runway extension through the Environment Court via some less-than-above-board political maneuvering.

The WIAL’s original concession for extending the airport was to design and build some form of artificial reef to give surfers somewhere to go.

“At this stage of the project, and subject to further investigations, it is considered that a submerged wave focusing structure may be the safest and most cost effective approach for mitigating and potentially further enhancing surfing amenity in Lyall Bay,” reads the Wellington Airport Runway Extension Surf Break Impact Assessment (woah!), which was released in October 2015.

SPS, along with the Wellington Boardriders Club, have been working with them since May 2015 to figure out a solution, but at this time it appears the relationship is growing tenuous.

This March, SPS questioned the sincerity of WIAL’s proposed artificial reef after it came to light the airport company was allegedly pursuing loopholes in policies that specifically protect surf breaks.

20150908 002

So much potential! Imagine conditions like this with the guidance of a designer artificial reef!

“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 policy changes,” explains a SPS press release.

“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.

This fight’s certainly not over, and it’s probably going to get more heated before it is, but if a trip through New Zealand customs is any gauge of what’s to come, Lyall Bay may be getting a new reef.

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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.

email: info@surfbreak.org.nz

Please leave comments here: http://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=88474

Local residents against the proposed Wellington Airport runway extension want the project’s backers to come clean on the proposal so voters can have their say in this year’s Local Government Elections.

The Guardians of the Bays, which includes South Coast residents and recreational users as well as concerned residents from across the city, have produced a myth-busting leaflet, taking aim at the misinformation being spread about the project by the owners of Wellington International Airport Ltd (WIAL), private company Infratil and Wellington City Council (WCC). The leaflet gives Wellingtonians a chance to ask questions of their local councillors and mayoral hopefuls as part of the 2016 Local Government Election Campaign.

“Wellingtonians need to have the chance to decide on the proposed extension based on facts not propaganda and misinformation. We want to cut through the confusion so Wellingtonians get all the facts before we commit any more valuable ratepayers’ money to this fanciful proposal,” says Dr Sea Rotmann, adding that WIAL made $108 million in revenue last year but Wellington City Council (which owns one-third of WIAL on behalf of ratepayers) received less than $12 million in dividends.

“Wellington’s ratepayers are being asked to pay $150 million towards the runway extension. Where is this money going to come from and how much will our residential, and especially business, rates have to increase to pay for it?”

“And why is Wellington City Council committing ratepayers to pay for half of the runway extension when Infratil, who will benefit the most, are putting forward less than 20%?”

“WIAL has had years to put out their side of the story – with glossy ads and websites full of fancy forecasts, which have all been criticised as being highly implausible by independent experts. Its time for Wellingtonians to have a chance to come to their own conclusion and sort the fact from fiction.”

“This proposal basically means a big wealth transfer from ratepayers to a large private company, Infratil. It’s a corporate handout with little certainty of success and the council is literally gambling our money away.”

“The extension is being pursued by Infratil who have their own stake in WIAL. They know if they can get the extension built, regardless of whether it attracts any long-haul flights or not, they can include the runway in their asset base.”

“Increasing the value of its assets means it can charge the airlines higher landing fees – meaning everyone’s airfares will increase. Better yet for Infratil, they’re asking ratepayers and taxpayers to fund over 80% of the extension because even they admit it makes no economic sense for their shareholders to foot the bill – even though they have over $1b in their coffers looking for somewhere to invest it.”

The residents are also decrying WIAL’s claim that the extension won’t impact on the surf at Lyall Bay as misleading.

“The runway extension will be disastrous for Lyall Bay and its vibrant heritage and surf culture. It’s estimated that surfable waves will be reduced by more than 25% and some breaks will be gone forever,” said Dr Rotmann.
“In addition to this, WIAL has submitted to Greater Wellington Regional Council on its draft Natural Resources Plan, seeking the deletion of its surf break protection policy, and has said that the ’Corner surf break’ in particular, does not warrant protection in the plan. Wellington City Council has made a similar submission which if successful, would mean WIAL and the Council could completely devolve any responsibility for significantly degrading Lyall Bay’s surf breaks, a taonga of our city.”

Dr Rotmann says the airport and Wellington City Council need to admit that the runway extension is a leap of faith for linking Wellington to the world and is unlikely to increase direct long-haul flights to major cities.

“None of the major airlines flying into New Zealand have said they will fly long-haul to Wellington if the runway is extended. And the new Wellington-Canberra-Singapore route has required massive subsidies from ratepayers in both cities to the tune of $9 per passenger – and this does not include the reduced landing charges and the higher Canberra subsidies. Yet all this new route proves is that we don’t need a runway extension to attract international airlines, we just need ratepayer subsidies.”

The Guardians of the Bays are calling on ratepayers to demand answers from their local representatives.

“What alternative ideas have Wellington City Council properly investigated to help boost economic development in Wellington – why haven’t they being explored further? Ratepayers put forward a number of creative ideas to further the development of our city. Why were they ignored in favour of the airport runway extension which is being treated as a panacea for all of Wellington’s economic problems by some Councillors?”

“The airport is expected to lodge its resource consent application any day now, which means there will be little time for the public to prepare to have their concerns heard in the Environment Court hearing later in the year – the deadline for public submissions could be as early as the end of May.”

“Even though we have still not seen a proper business case and the airport admits the extension fails its own test for a sound investment, most of the Council, particularly most of the Mayoral candidates, seem determined to push this ill-conceived project through at all cost. The cost will be borne, almost entirely, by the Wellington public for what promises to be little more than a giant White Elephant on our South Coast,” says Dr Rotmann.