Raise banks but no path

Commissioner declines consent for cycleway/walkway on top.

Commissioner declines consent for cycleway/walkway on top.

Drone view over Waiapoa River from Jordan Perry.

Resource consent for a major upgrading of the Waipaoa River stopbanks has been granted by an independent commissioner — but a further application to allow for building a cycleway on top of the stopbanks has been declined.

In a reserved decision, independent commissioner Greg Hill says he accepts that upgrading of the flood protection scheme is critically important to the Gisborne region.

“The proposed upgrade to the existing stopbanks will improve resilience against flood events and account for climate change.

“Granting this consent will enable the scheme to better protect the 10,000 hectares of Gisborne’s highly- productive land, as well as the urban areas of Gisborne city, Makaraka and Ormond.”

But Mr Hill says the cycleway application was not sufficiently developed to fully understand the proposal. Seeking consent later would allow time for discussions with landowners and potentially-affected parties.

He accepted that the cycleway per se was likely to be an appropriate activity and, as set out, would have a range of positive social and economic benefits.

“However, the proposal as advanced by the applicant is, in my view, more akin to a general concept — with most of the detail to be developed and resolved post-consent,” the decision says.

While the council owns most of the land on which the stopbanks are located, significant portions are privately owned. While there is no limitation on granting consent, without landowner approval any consent could not be exercised.

Given the land tenure situation and the amount of land not owned by the council, it is not possible to know the actual extent of the proposed cycleway/walkway, Mr Hill says.

The effects could not be determined and mitigated until the actual extent of the possible cycleway/walkway is known.

The applicant sought a construction period of 13 years. While it was accepted the applicant had offered a five-year consent lapse period for the cycleway consent, given the construction period the cycleway/walkway would be some years away.

In his view, consent should be sought once a cycleway network plan has been completed and construction of the stopbanks is nearer completion. This would provide greater certainty to those potentially affected by the cycleway/walkway.

For reasons set out in the decision, in terms of the sustainable management purpose of the Resource Management Act, it was more appropriate in this instance to refuse rather than grant consent for the cycleway, he says.

Commissioner heard 26 submissions, mainly on cycleway

At the hearing, the council sought consent for upgrading the Waipaoa River Flood Control Scheme based on the 2090 climate change predictions that would allow for a 100-year storm flood.

The original application sought to raise the stopbanks by between 0.6 and 0.9m.

A revised application raised the upper limit to 1.78 metres.

It included a bypass at Ormond, a major realignment at Mullooly’s Bend and increasing the earth material required from 750,000 cubic metres to 1.4 million.

There were 26 submissions in response to the council’s applications, heard on September 19.

The proposed cycleway was the main issue raised by submissions, both for and against.

The Long-Term Plan has $16.3 million allocated in the budget for upgrading the Waipaoa River flood control scheme, although it is now estimated that the total cost of the project will be $30m-$35m.

These figures do not include any funding for the cycleway, which the council has said would cost an additional $2m-$3m.

Resource consent for a major upgrading of the Waipaoa River stopbanks has been granted by an independent commissioner — but a further application to allow for building a cycleway on top of the stopbanks has been declined.

In a reserved decision, independent commissioner Greg Hill says he accepts that upgrading of the flood protection scheme is critically important to the Gisborne region.

“The proposed upgrade to the existing stopbanks will improve resilience against flood events and account for climate change.

“Granting this consent will enable the scheme to better protect the 10,000 hectares of Gisborne’s highly- productive land, as well as the urban areas of Gisborne city, Makaraka and Ormond.”

But Mr Hill says the cycleway application was not sufficiently developed to fully understand the proposal. Seeking consent later would allow time for discussions with landowners and potentially-affected parties.

He accepted that the cycleway per se was likely to be an appropriate activity and, as set out, would have a range of positive social and economic benefits.

“However, the proposal as advanced by the applicant is, in my view, more akin to a general concept — with most of the detail to be developed and resolved post-consent,” the decision says.

While the council owns most of the land on which the stopbanks are located, significant portions are privately owned. While there is no limitation on granting consent, without landowner approval any consent could not be exercised.

Given the land tenure situation and the amount of land not owned by the council, it is not possible to know the actual extent of the proposed cycleway/walkway, Mr Hill says.

The effects could not be determined and mitigated until the actual extent of the possible cycleway/walkway is known.

The applicant sought a construction period of 13 years. While it was accepted the applicant had offered a five-year consent lapse period for the cycleway consent, given the construction period the cycleway/walkway would be some years away.

In his view, consent should be sought once a cycleway network plan has been completed and construction of the stopbanks is nearer completion. This would provide greater certainty to those potentially affected by the cycleway/walkway.

For reasons set out in the decision, in terms of the sustainable management purpose of the Resource Management Act, it was more appropriate in this instance to refuse rather than grant consent for the cycleway, he says.

Commissioner heard 26 submissions, mainly on cycleway

At the hearing, the council sought consent for upgrading the Waipaoa River Flood Control Scheme based on the 2090 climate change predictions that would allow for a 100-year storm flood.

The original application sought to raise the stopbanks by between 0.6 and 0.9m.

A revised application raised the upper limit to 1.78 metres.

It included a bypass at Ormond, a major realignment at Mullooly’s Bend and increasing the earth material required from 750,000 cubic metres to 1.4 million.

There were 26 submissions in response to the council’s applications, heard on September 19.

The proposed cycleway was the main issue raised by submissions, both for and against.

The Long-Term Plan has $16.3 million allocated in the budget for upgrading the Waipaoa River flood control scheme, although it is now estimated that the total cost of the project will be $30m-$35m.

These figures do not include any funding for the cycleway, which the council has said would cost an additional $2m-$3m.

Council considering an appeal

An application for resource consent for a cycleway on top of the raised Waipaoa River stopbanks was submitted for efficiency.

Gisborne District Council is considering whether to appeal the decision of the independent commissioner not to grant it, says District Council four waters infrastructure manager Neville West.

Resource consent was approved for the Waipaoa stopbank upgrades, however independent Hearings Commissioner Greg Hill considered there was not sufficient detail in the council’s application for the cycle trail consent to be granted.

The provision for a cycleway in the application was for efficiency, so that if a cycleway was decided on by the council and funded in future, it would not have to apply for another consent, he said

There is a statutory 15-day period following the decision for any appeals on the decision. The council is considering whether to appeal the cycle trail decision.

A $6 million Provincial Growth Fund application was recently submitted to central government and is being considered.

“Our application focuses on stopbank and cycle trail improvement works in the area between the Waipaoa River mouth and the State Highway 2 bridge (Matawhero). A response to this is expected early in the new year,” said Mr West.

“The current project budget is $23.4m, which spans a 15-year period.

“The modelling completed for the consent meant a revised design of the scheme, which has impacted on cost. We estimate it may cost $30-35m to complete the project.”

A report will go to the Future Tairawhiti committee next week, which recommends that the additional budget would be consulted on in the 2021- 2031 long-term plan and will allow estimates to be based on actual tendered rates.

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