This is as boring as batshit, but is important for dredgers - so please do read to the end.
There seems to be a ever greater concern about dredging and in particular regarding sedimentation, and the impacts of dredging on the aquatic habitat. The Government recently bought in a National Policy Statement which sets out a hierarchy for Councils to apply for assessing consent applications. This is called Te Mana o te Wai or ‘the health of the water’. The hierarchy is:
1st priority- the health and well-being of water
2nd priority - the health needs of people
3rd priority - the ability of people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being.
Gold dredging, and your own personal financial improvement, good times drinking chartreuse by the river, mental wellbeing enjoying nature with your mates and family etc comes last.
What this means is Councils and affected parties (DoC, fish and game, Iwi etc) dont actually know how to apply the hierarchy as in, can you have any effects on the river or aquatic organisms from dredging or not? Or, what is the tipping point on effects to the ecology before a consent is declined? This is being raised in consent applications, and for some applicants of dredging consents the affected parties are not providing their approval citing concern about the ecology and conflict with the hierarchy.
To address this, we need a plan. I suggest we all chip in a fixed amount of cash and commission a report from a suitably qualified expert to prepare a report assessing the effects on dredging on sediment and our NZ critters. That can then be provided with any new consent applications and will address these concerns providing some comfort to Councils and affected parties (given we all know how minor dredging actually is on ecology). It could well be a $5-6k project and I do know some people who would be keen to do this work and have the expertise. The issue is cash. I would be interested to hear from those who would chip in. If we had 10-12 people keen to chip in $500 it is achievable. The other issue is for those that don’t chip in, they will still get the benefits of the knowledge and investment from those who do fund the project. I am keen to hear peoples thoughts and interest in doing this work. I am happy to oversee the project (I don’t have a dredging claim) but would need some good support from those claim holders.
If we can get some decent momentum on this, I will be happy to make it happen. If not, well it is a lost opportunity. Your thoughts?