Napier Port now plans to lodge its resource consent applications for the proposed wharf development and phased dredging project in the first half of 2017, so it can do further work to confirm the best locations for disposal of dredged material.
Napier Port had planned to submit its applications to Hawke’s Bay Regional Council before the end of this year but, as a result of community input, now wants to allow more time for ongoing investigations for this part of the project.
Napier Port chief executive, Garth Cowie, says the Port chose to consult early and well ahead of formal notification of the applications so it could understand any potential impacts of the project on its stakeholders and the community.
Mr Cowie says most feedback has supported the economic opportunities the project would bring, however several groups, including divers and recreational fishers, have raised concerns about potential impacts from disposal of dredged material.
“We started this process to share our plans and then listen to what people had to say. What we are hearing is that some people are concerned about the possible impact that such a volume of dredged material might have if it’s deposited within the Bay,” Mr Cowie says.
The initial proposal was looking to deposit dredged material at inshore disposal areas, with sandy material deposited closer to Westshore with the intention of re-nourishing the beach.
“We know this project will allow Hawke’s Bay’s economy to thrive but we also know we want to do it in a way that doesn’t negatively impact on our marine environment.
“We have a regular maintenance dredging programme and we know from independent studies of those that they have minimal, short-term impacts.
“We also know that the potential volume of dredging material from the later stages of this project is different so we’ve done additional studies. While they too indicate only minimal impact, we think it’s prudent in the long term to look at alternate locations.
“We simply want to be absolutely confident that the final proposed location is the best disposal site from an environmental and community perspective. To do that we need a clear understanding of sediment movement, including the effectiveness of re-nourishment,” Mr Cowie says.
So while dredging deposit location sites investigation will continue, other specialist studies into the project’s potential effects on the ecology of the seafloor and Pania Reef, dredging and dredging plume impacts, any changes in waves and coastal processes, including on surf breaks, and noise and traffic impacts are all nearing completion. Their results will be used as part of the consent applications.
About the project and consultation process
The proposed wharf development and phased dredging project would see a 350m wharf constructed along the existing container terminal and a deeper, wider shipping channel progressively dredged over time to accommodate larger ships for increasing export trade.
Over the past six months, Napier Port has been actively engaging with iwi and hapū, business, recreational users, central and local government, environmental groups and its own staff. So far, more than 1200 members of the community have engaged with the project through drop-in sessions, presentations, public displays, advertising and a feedback portal on its website.