Environment Waikato has granted resource consents to Mokau River Tours for a swing mooring and proposed pontoon jetty in the Mokau River, as part of a new scenic river tours operation.
The jetty will be below the State Highway 3 bridge near the Te Mahoe Road bridge. Six submissions were received from DoC, Mokau Fishing Club, Mokau Ki Runga Regional Management Committee, Tainui Whitebaiters Association and a whitebaiter.
Mokau River Tours is currently running cruises aboard an historic 52 foot vessel called the M.V. Glen Royal which can take up to 80 passengers. Historically the sheltered pontoon jetty site had been used by vessels as a safe mooring.
Mokau Ki Runga Management Committee secretary Barbara Marsh asked the Committee to adjourn the hearing because the applicant had not undertaken any consultation with her Committee. The Tainui Whitebaiters Association was concerned about the use of the pontoon jetty and felt the appropriate location for embarking and disembarking passengers was the District Council-owned jetty below the SH 3 Bridge.
The vessel would be in the path of a current carrying a large amount of logs, trees and debris when moored to the pontoon jetty and would affect an existing whitebait stand, it said. It would also cause water disturbance and noise, disturbing the river flow and causing erosion. The Association was also concerned about parking, toilets and possible spillages.
Environment Waikato staff said the consents should be granted and recommended a number of monitoring requirements. The Committee declined the request for adjournment and said that deficiencies in consultation were designed to be rectified by the hearings process.
On the matter of consultation, the Committee said while it may be desirable as good practice, a breakdown of consultation was not a proper basis for declining an application.
If the group had had specific concerns, such as the presence of waahi tapu, there would have been at least passing mention of them but there was no basis to presume there were significant matters of concern to tangata whenua, it said.
The issues raised by the whitebait stand owner were important, and the Committee should not grant a consent which significantly interfered with another consent, but this would not happen in this case or have only minor effects. The boat would only run about once a week during the winter whitebait season, and conditions would be added to ensure the jetty did not impinge on the stand.
The Committee accepted that any environmental effects could be adequately managed through conditions. A term of 10 years was granted for the two-ended swing mooring and the maximum term of 35 years for the pontoon jetty, owing to the permanent nature of the structure and based on consent durations for similar structures and the minor actual and potential effects.