Protect Our Gulf chair Shirin Brown with the group’s lawyers Rob Enright and Ruby Haazen.

Following a three year long court battle, Ports of Auckland and Waiheke-based environmental group Protect Our Gulf have reached a settlement allowing the port to go ahead with plans to dredge the Rangitoto Channel.

The plans to deepen the channel to allow for safer passage of larger ships required millions of tons of material to be dumped off-shore, and were opposed by both Protect Our Gulf and Protect Aotea, a group representing a coalition of iwi led by Ngāti Rehua Ngatiwai ki Aotea. The two groups felt the environmental impact would be greater than the Environmental Protection Agency assessed it would be when the agency granted the port’s consent application, and local iwi’s customs and cultural values had not been properly considered. 

Ports of Auckland recently agreed to support ongoing monitoring of environmental impacts at the disposal site, and to look for opportunities to relocate as much dredged material as possible back within the area around the dredging instead of sending it to the off-shore dump site.

In a joint statement with the port, Protect Our Gulf chairwoman Shirin Brown says this achieves the group’s main goal in taking the matter to court. “We have now secured somewhat better environmental outcomes associated with Ports of Auckland’s proposed dumping and dredging activities… we are pleased that the way forward is not ongoing and expensive court cases, but instead proactive discussions with all stakeholders as to how to better look after our very degraded oceans,” she says. “ The important focus now must be how we can best protect the moana and its organisms.” • Paul Mitchell

Full story in this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!

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