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Published: 2012-06-19 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council says its river and catchment services team is making good progress on preparing for mangrove removal at Whangamata.

It follows recent Environment Court approval for a new resource consent to remove 22.9 hectares of the plants. The court’s approval came after agreement between various parties to a Forest & Bird appeal against a similar consent granted by an independent hearings committee.

Mature mangrove removal is due to get underway in March next year after the development of various plans required under the terms of the consent.

Five plans are required covering air quality, monitoring, operations, predator control and restoration of the environment.

Whangamata mangroves project manager Emily O’Donnell was pleased the various parties were able to come together to reach an out-of-court agreement.

“The council will ensure the procedures endorsed by the court are closely followed so that we can get started promptly on removal in March 2013 as scheduled.

“Unfortunately, it is not possible to start work earlier due to factors such as the need to avoid interfering with bird-breeding and avoiding large-scale mangrove removal during the busy summer holiday season at Whangamata.

“However, the extra time means we will be well-placed to hit the ground running with mangrove removal come March,” Ms O’Donnell said.

The regional council’s Thames-Coromandel councillor Simon Friar said that, while the court-approved result was not exactly what the local community wanted, he felt it was an improvement on what had been agreed to by the hearing commissioners. “Now mangroves can be removed from the Moanaanuanu Estuary, whereas before no removal in that area had been allowed.”

He said his personal view was that the council was hampered by provisions in various government statements, policies and plans which placed “some barriers” in the way of easier management of harbours.

“These are historic documents and need to be changed urgently. All we are trying to do is manage the harbour in order to restore the biodiversity that was there a couple of decades ago.

“However, as I have found, changing such documents takes huge amounts of time and money. In my view, the whole process needs to be improved and streamlined – there are too many plans and policies.”