A six-year planning battle to build a marina at Sandspit in the heart of the Hauraki Gulf boating scene is nearly over, with the granting of a land use consent by the Environment Court.
Water-based works for the proposed 131-berth marina in the Matakana River village gateway to Kawau Island received consent from the former Auckland Regional Council in 2010.
However, Rodney District Council commissioners refused to give land use consent for a breakwater and earthworks for two reclamations for parking.
The Sandspit Yacht Club Marina Society appealed against this refusal, while the residents' group Sandspit SOS supported the commissioners' decision.
The residents' group gave evidence at the court case in January, although by this time it was left out on its own - Rodney District Council having been absorbed into the Auckland Council, which largely supported the grant of consent.
Judge Jeff Smith said the court agreed the existing environment around the yacht club was highly modified, with houses, reclamations, jetties, seawall, an extensive sealed car park and a motorcamp.
But large areas of the tidal estuary were natural. They were used by wading and migratory birds and the salt marsh was an environment for the rare banded rail.
There was no doubt the marina would have an effect on the bird habitat but on the other hand the breakwater would discourage pedestrian intrusion and replenishment of a beach would serve as an inter-tidal roost.
A condition of consent would be that construction be timed to limit interruption of bird feeding and breeding.
A further condition would be that the Auckland Council receive $10,000 to improve the bird roost area.
Club commodore Phil Brooker said the decision was welcomed after six years and $1.4 million in spending.
For Save our Sandspit, Michael Taplin said the interim decision was disappointing.
"But we accept it and are working on negotiating a robust set of conditions that will protect the interest, as best we can, of the community and the environment - what there is left of it."By Wayne Thompson Email Wayne