Consent needed for leaving Rena on reef

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Work on cutting up the Rena continues. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times
Work on cutting up the Rena continues. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times

Any decision to leave the remaining structure of the Rena on Astrolabe Reef requires a full resource consent process, Bay of Plenty Regional Council's chief executive Mary-Anne Macleod says.

No consent application has yet been made.

Recent announcements about the ultimate fate of the remaining Rena structure have raised questions about the process that would be followed if the owners applied for a consent to leave the wreck and any debris on the reef.

Ms Macleod said a "full and robust"statutory process would be followed if a consent application was lodged for any part of the Rena to remain on Astrolabe Reef.

"Under the provisions of the regional council's Coastal Plan, a resource consent is required for any structure to occupy the seabed. A full and robust statutory process would be followed in accordance with the requirements of the Resource Management Act," she said.

Any consent application for leaving the structure on the reef would be publicly notified to give the public every opportunity to express any concerns through this statutory process, she said.

If a consent application is made in the future, the regional council would engage the best available scientific and technical advice to ensure an informed decision could be made, Ms Macleod said.

Meanwhile, the regional council is planning further investigation in the coming months into options for managing shipping movements in Bay of Plenty waters.

This follows a report to the council's Strategy, Policy and Planning Committee on Tuesday.

The use of compulsory shipping lanes in the region has been discussed since the Rena grounding in October 2011. At Tuesday's meeting it was decided that more work was needed to explore all the options available to council, and the risks and logistics.

Committee Chair Raewyn Bennett said staff would now begin the work to look at possible options.

"With the recent history of the Rena grounding and because we have New Zealand's largest export port in Tauranga, we realise this is an important issue for our residents.

"Because of that we want to make sure any future decisions made about the management of shipping routes are the best for the region. We also want to make sure we're addressing the concerns that our local residents have been making to us, including iwi and hapu, about coastal shipping and acknowledging the support many of them have given to us for this work."

Ms Bennett said staff have been asked to work closely with Maritime New Zealand and the Ministry of Transport.

"The work done to date to look at the options has raised questions about where this type of regulation would best sit - whether that be at a local, national or international level."

Currently the regional council does have some responsibility for navigation safety within the region's waters, which extend to 12 nautical miles offshore. They are controlled at a regional level by the Bay of Plenty Navigation Safety Bylaws 2010, which include specific navigation requirements for vessels entering the Tauranga and Whakatane harbours, and enable the regional council to establish exclusion zones, but do not include compulsory shipping lanes.

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