The Environment Court has confirmed the resource consents issued to Refining NZ for its dredging project, subject to minor revisions agreed between the parties, the company announced.
The confirmation comes four months after the company had appealed the consents granted by the Northland Regional Council (NRC) and follows detailed discussions with the parties to the appeal: Patuharakeke; Northport; and NRC. Those discussions centered on the consent conditions related to water clarity, turbidity, and a seasonal prohibition on dredging.
Commenting, Refining NZ Chief Executive Officer, Mike Fuge said that the discussions on the revised conditions were both positive and constructive.
“There was real willingness by all parties to work towards a set of conditions that everyone believes are effective and workable. We have been especially conscious that the revised conditions ensure that the sensitive ecosystems in Whangarei harbor are not impacted,” said Mike Fuge.
“We know for example, that Mair Bank forms a natural barrier for the Refinery and holds significant cultural value for tangata whenua, so it’s only right that we have the necessary monitoring measures in place before, during and after the dredging,” added Mike Fuge.
To satisfy the turbidity conditions the Refinery will establish a monitoring program with real time meters positioned at key points on the harbor, including adjacent to Mair and Marsden Banks, Motukaroro Marine Reserve and Home Point.
The monitoring program will gather baseline turbidity data for 12 months before dredging can commence and will continue to monitor turbidity throughout the dredging program. A date for dredging to commence has yet to be confirmed.
Fuge described dredging as strategically important for Refining NZ. “Improving the economics of up to half of all crude delivered to the Refinery will help to keep us competitive with imported fuel from Asia Pacific refiners. Looking further ahead, this is one of a range of projects underway or being scoped that will sustain the Refinery and ensure the continued employment of over 600 Northlanders, as well as supporting businesses and specialist services, for years to come,” he said.