Wharf plans protested
AUCKLANDERS came out in protest at the Ports of Auckland’s plans to extend its wharves into the Waitemata Harbour on Sunday.
But it could be the tip of the iceberg as the ports company has indicated it will seek a further three hectares of reclamation once the Unitary Plan is in place.
The port is due to begin work next month to extend two fingers of the Bledisloe Wharf nearly 100 metres into the Waitemata Harbour after obtaining consent without public consultation.
‘‘We would like consent to reclaim the area between the wharf extensions, just under 3ha, which is a 90 per cent reduction to what we were seeking in 2011,’’ port spokesman Matt Ball says of possible further reclamation.
‘‘We do not have consent for reclamation and we will not apply for consent for reclamation until after the Unitary Plan becomes operative.’’
Any consent will be fully notified and subject to consultation, Ball says.
Hundreds of Aucklanders took aim at the port company and mayor Len Brown on Sunday.
A flotilla of more than 100 boats supported a crowd of more than 500 protesters on Queens Wharf, carrying signs saying ‘‘ Make love, not wharf’’ and ‘‘If it’s Len Brown, flush it down’’.
Public figures such as Neil Finn, Sir Graham Henry, Lady Pippa Blake, Sir Stephen Tindall, Chris Dickson and Barbara Kendall have spoken up against the reclamation.
Waitemata councillor Mike Lee says the port’s plans are dangerous and grandiose.
Lee is concerned about the impact on the harbour environment, including wild life and tidal flows.
‘‘It benefits no-one, or no thing, for them to be spending vast amounts of public money filling in the harbour,’’ he says.
‘‘Not only is this environmentally damaging to marine ecosystems, and ruining views over the harbour and gulf, but the distorted tidal flow will make the area increasingly dangerous for recreational boating.
‘‘I think the directors and managers of Ports of Auckland have the mistaken impression that the port and the harbour is theirs to do with what they like.’’
Ball says expansion is a normal part of port business.
‘‘Reclamation is a slow way to expand, so you have to plan many years in advance, but only implement what you need just in time,’’ the port spokesman says.
He says the planned wharf extension is needed urgently due to growing freight and ship size.
‘‘These are structures,’’ Ball says.
‘‘They have very little environmental impact and will offer almost no resistance to tidal flow.’’
They could be removed need be, Ball says.
Councillor Chris Darby says the plans are ‘‘environmental vandalism’’ which would affect 30,000 square metres of seabed and ‘‘obliterate’’ the view north-east from Queens Wharf – an area Aucklanders had paid $40 million for.
Councillor Mike Lee
Go to aucklandcityharbour news.co.nz and click on Latest Edition to watch a timelapse video which shows how Auckland’s shoreline has changed since 1861.
Anger grows: Hundreds gathered at Queens Wharf on Sunday to protest the Ports of Auckland’s wharf extension plans.