Environment Waikato has granted resource consent for a boat ramp to be built at the Waikawau River mouth on the Thames Coast.
Boat Ramp Waikawau Inc had applied to the Thames Coromandel District Council and Environment Waikato for consents to occupy space with a two lane concrete ramp, disturb river sediment and use vehicles in the coastal marine area to build the ramp.
The applicant intends to upgrade the existing boat ramp by removing the gravel ramp and replacing it with concrete to provide safer access. Thirty five submissions were lodged with Environment Waikato and 59 with the District Council.
The applicant said the proposal did not conflict with district and regional planning requirements. The informal nature of the reserve was to be protected and unnecessary development such as traffic management signs and marking was not proposed.
Several submitters supported the proposal, saying the ramp would benefit the community and reduce the use of the narrow coastal road north of Waikawau by boat trailers. Opposing the application, a representative of the Hauraki Maori Trust Board said the proposal would adversely affect an area which had special cultural and spiritual significance to Hauraki iwi.
Tribal representatives did not want the reserve disturbed by the proposal until a claim before the Waitangi Tribunal was decided.
Local property owners were concerned that the proposal was the first step in the ‘commercialisation’ of the reserve. A new ramp would affect the existing natural character, wildlife values and amenity values of the reserve. Property owners were concerned at the lack of consultation and absence of the Department of Conservation in the decision making process.
The applicant said launching of boats had occurred in the area for at least 30 years and therefore the public had existing use rights.
Granting the applications, the Hearing Committee said it was unlikely the ramp would significantly alter the dynamics of the river mouth. However, nearby wildlife habitat would require protection from vehicle damage.
It said constructing a formal boat ramp next to the existing reserve was likely to result in an increase in boat launching and retrieval particularly in summer, which was consistent with the existing use of the reserve. Retaining the vehicle and boat trailer parking area in its grassed state would ensure only minor detraction from the area’s current character.