Plan a sellout, friends of harbour say

July 02, 2019 - 263 views

Public opinion has been sold out to private development, the Friends of Oamaru Harbour group says.

Yesterday, the group submitted 31 questions to the harbour area committee, which it says must be answered before an Oamaru Harbour master plan is approved.

Friends of Oamaru Harbour co-ordinator Vicki Jayne said the number of questions it was now asking of the committee reflected a ''level of dissatisfaction'' with the proposed consultation and accompanying draft master plan.

''What it looks like to me is a sellout to private development,'' she said.

Last week, the Waitaki District Council published the community engagement proposal for the 30-year plan and with it the public's first glimpse at a plan that drew a record response during community engagement.

The council website touts ''a huge response'': 887 survey responses, more than 50 written and emailed contributions, and over 140 comments recorded at a public information session with over 180 attendees.

Ms Jayne called the draft plan ''error-ridden'' and said the Friends group had accepted the process - ''but we did think it took seriously its notion of public consultation''.

Questions raised by the harbour advocacy group include: how many existing South Hill homes would have their views of the waterfront blocked by the built forms and harbour village proposed? Why there were no standards for height, roofing, or cladding to ensure the council's stated goal that development would be ''tasteful'' and ''complementary''?

And why, when ''tranquillity and charm'' were listed as key elements of the area was there a ''strong emphasis on commercial development which would effectively destroy it''?

Minimising the wildlife in the harbour was also raised as a concern before today's meeting.

University of Otago palaeoecologist Dr Nic Rawlence, who was among the wildlife experts to voice concerns about an earlier zipline proposal at the harbour, contacted the Otago Daily Times to question the report's claim Otago shags posed a health risk to people, and its claims there were only 150 breeding pairs of Otago shags on the wharf.

There were more than 410 breeding pairs ''and it's climbing''.

''It's the largest colony of the species - Otago's only unique bird,'' he said.

''The report is downplaying the size and the significance of the colony.''


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