Bay of Plenty Regional Council has set the date for the hearing of the application for consent to leave part of the MV Rena on Astrolabe (Otaiti) Reef to begin in Tauranga on 23 June, 2015 and run for approximately three weeks.
A venue for the Hearing is yet to be decided, Chairman Gordon Whiting said in a statement today. The timeline for the process is:
- 7 April: Survey, video imaging data, ecological characterisation report, most recent sampling results and copper recovery report sent to Regional Council and submitters.
- 7 – 30 April: Parties’ experts meet to discuss the issues in a facilitated session.
- 4 May: Applicant provides evidence from its technical experts
- 21 May: Regional Council and submitter experts file technical experts’ briefs of evidence.
- 8 June: Applicant’s rebuttal evidence provided.
- 23 June: Hearing begins.
The Hearing Commissioners’ panel held a pre-Hearing conference last week to determine an appropriate timeline and procedure, and heard applications on the timing from five parties.
Mr Whiting said the decision on the timeline enabled the parties to progress the Hearing in a “logical and timeous manner which enables all parties to be involved and to present their cases to the Hearing Panel”.
Factors to be considered at the Hearing include Maori culture, salvage, contaminants and ecology, planning, natural character and landscape, dive safety and navigation and social and recreation.
The full Memorandum, all information on the process, submissions and all material for the Hearing can be found on www.renaresourceconsent.org.nz.
- The Hearing panel is chaired by retired Environment Court judge Gordon Whiting, with Cultural Commissioner Rauru Kirikiri, marine engineer John Lumsden and environmental scientist Dr Shane Kelly.
- The 37,000 tonne cargo ship MV Rena grounded on Otaiti (Astrolabe) reef on Wednesday, 5 October 2011 with 1368 containers and about 1,700 tonnes of oil on board. A massive clean-up operation was undertaken, with more than 8000 volunteers assisting. The salvage operation is now being handed over to a local firm to continue clearing the debris.
- Most containers have been recovered, and much of the rest has been reduced to scrap by the sea. A total of 3,344 tonnes of debris has been recovered, including container parts, scrap cargo, aluminium ingots, tyres, fibreboard and wire.
In May 2014 the Rena’s owner lodged resource consent applications to leave sections of the wreck on Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef, and to provide for any future discharges of contaminants. The Applicant originally indicated that it intended to seek a direct referral to the Environment Court, but decided to proceed to a Regional Council hearing in December last year.