Mahurangi Harbour urgently needs to sign her friends
Paid-up ‘friends’ of the Mahurangi once numbered 300—on the back of the launch of Jade River: A History of the Mahurangi.
But somehow, in the transition from paper-based invoicing and communicating to becoming determinedly low-emission and online, Mahurangi Action’s financial membership shrivelled, while the Mahurangi Magazine readership soars—to 17 827 visits last month alone.
While it is impossible to compare an average 575 website visits per day with 300 paid-up members, it is paid-up members that the Environmental Legal Assistance Fund will be concerned about, when considering an application by Mahurangi Action. Further, while the Mahurangi Magazine supports Mahurangi Action, it is not the same entity, and enjoys editorial independence. Mahurangi Action has made a submission on the proposed Pūhoi–Warkworth motorway with the express purpose of having the proposal’s Assessment of Environmental Effects peer reviewed, by DHI Water and Environment. This is the respected local presence the internationally respected global consultancy DHI Group, which began life as the Danish Hydraulic Institute, a department of the venerable Danmarks Tekniske Universitet, Denmark’s first polytechnic, established 1829.
Few, if any, friends of the Mahurangi would hold that the lethal and sometimes seriously congested State Highway 1 between Pūhoi and Wellsford is satisfactory. But friends of the Mahurangi hold differing views as to the appropriateness of the New Zealand Transport Agency proposal to build an entirely new motorway through the mostly steep and difficult country between Pūhoi and Warkworth. For some, the risk posed to a harbour already staggering under the impact of an elevated sediment accumulation rate is intolerable—particularly as global warming guarantees heavier rainfall events, just one of which can generate more sediment than would otherwise sloth off the catchment in a year. Others would prefer that the Pūhoi and Wellsford section was upgraded far more quickly and economically, along the lines of Operation Lifesaver, that would have long since almost totally eliminated head-on collisions with the installation of wire-rope safety barriers, particularly on Schedewys Hill and the Dome Valley. Others are sanguine about the New Zealand Transport Agency proposal, regardless that it may take until 2025 just to reach Warkworth, and that the date the notorious Dome Valley is addressed is ‘Not yet determined’.
Regardless of their opinion of the agency’s proposal, no friend of the Mahurangi will want to see more mud washed into the harbour while the eight million cubic metres of earth and rock involved are being moved about. If, as the result of a glancing blow from an ex-tropical cyclone, just 0.57% of that material washed into the Mahurangi, that would double the harbour’s already elevated annual average sediment accumulation rate. If, as a result of the agency’s proposal being peer reviewed, any attenuation measures are required by the board of inquiry to be made more effective, that can only be a good thing. It is even possible that the peer review will endorse the proposal chapter line and verse, but for it to happen at all, it may well depend on whether Mahurangi Action can convince the Environmental Legal Assistance Fund to take its application seriously, and that depends, in part, on the group demonstrating that it has the necessary community support. And one way that the fund measures this is membership; indeed it requires a list of the group’s current members, including addresses.
Every friend of the Mahurangi who subscribes before applications close on 22 January will greatly improve the chances of having the motorway proposal’s Assessment of Environmental Effects robustly peer reviewed. All that is needed is for a few of the many good friends the Mahurangi has already, to formally subscribe.
It is easy to join Mahurangi Action. There is no joining fee, and the annual subscription is set at a miniscule $10, in the interests of maximising membership.
Rules of Mahurangi Action Incorporated Environmental Legal Assistance Fund
Mahurangi Action’s submission to the Environmental Protection Authority
13 December 2013
Reason [for opposing in full] including any suggested conditions:
- The proposed project, both during the construction phase and for the lifetime of its operation, will contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, and at a time when New Zealand is obligated to reduce its emissions.
- The proposed project fails to adequately examine options that would reduce current and future greenhouse gas emissions, while achieving the same goal of improving resilience, safety, efficient movement of freight, accessibility, and the capacity of the existing network to accommodate anticipated population growth.
- The Mahurangi catchment, particularly during proposed project’s construction phase, would face a major increase of risk to its already elevated sediment accumulation rate, from global-warming-enhanced extreme-weather events.
- Given its already elevated sediment accumulation rate, which despite the Mahurangi Action Plan is yet to be adequately addressed, the Mahurangi catchment, particularly during proposed project’s construction phase, would be exposed to an unacceptably high risk of average recurrence interval extreme-weather events.
Provide reasons [for asking the board of inquiry to decline the proposal] including any changes sought and/or suggested conditions:
- Decline proposal and require the applicant to explore options that achieve the proposal’s goals while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the risk of further elevating the sediment accumulation rate of the Mahurangi Harbour. In particular, require the applicant to more fully consider the measures proposed by the Campaign for Better Transport known as Operation Lifesaver.
- Should the board of inquiry approve the proposal, a condition might be that the project should source indigenous plants raised by the five-times more cost-effective, and more robust, open-ground (forestry-style) method that has been trialled in the Mahurangi and Lake Taupo catchments as a direct consequence of the realisation of the scale of indigenous planting (possibly in the order of 10 million stems) required to address the Mahurangi Harbour’s elevated sediment accumulation rate.