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Proposed Lyttelton channel deepening resource consent application started processing by Environment Canterbury

Environment Canterbury has commenced processing Lyttelton Port of Christchurch’s (LPC) resource consent application to extend the existing shipping channel in Lyttelton Harbour/Whakaraupō.

Environment Canterbury has commenced processing Lyttelton Port of Christchurch’s (LPC) resource consent application to extend the existing shipping channel in Lyttelton Harbour/Whakaraupō.

LPC has requested that its resource consent application be publicly notified to allow any person to lodge a submission. Environment Canterbury will publicly notify LPC’s application in the coming weeks and will call for submissions from the general public on the project in the coming months.

Dredging to create and maintain a shipping navigation channel has occurred in Lyttelton Harbour/Whakaraupō since 1880. The harbour adjacent to the Port has a natural depth of five to seven metres, but successive dredging over the years has created a shipping channel with a depth of 12.5 metres. To accommodate larger vessels LPC is proposing to lengthen the navigation channel by approximately 6.5 kilometres, widen it by 20 metres and increase its depth by five to six metres.

LPC Chief Executive Peter Davie says the proposed dredging project represents an investment of up to $120 million by LPC in the future viability of the Port, its ability to continue to attract major international shipping lines and accommodate larger cargo ships.

“LPC handles billions of dollars of exports annually through the Port – that’s overseas earnings that are crucial for Canterbury. We have had a 50 percent increase in container volumes in the last five years. We handle more than half the South Island’s container volume and over 70 percent of imports,” he said.

“With a 50 percent forecast in trade growth through Lyttelton, it’s important that this dredging project occurs – not just for the Port but for the Canterbury and wider New Zealand economy.”

While LPC is committed to future-proofing the Port to secure Lyttelton’s future as the South Island’s major international trade gateway, it won’t be at the expense of its environmental responsibilities, adds Davie.

The proposed dredging will see approximately 18 million cubic metres of spoil removed from the harbour floor in a minimum of two stages and deposited over a 2.5 x 5 kilometre disposal site 6 km offshore from Godley Head. A second offshore ground for maintenance disposal is also being established 2.25km off Godley Head. Both sites have been selected for their suitability and low environmental impact. These sites avoid sediment plumes drifting back to the rocky shore.

The resource consent application also includes dredging in preparation for the proposed reclamation at the Port’s Te Awaparahi Bay and long term maintenance dredging of the deeper channel.

Davie says the environmental monitoring programme implemented will be the most extensive ever undertaken on a dredge project in New Zealand.

“We have invested more than $3 million engaging a range of expert scientists to investigate the effects the proposed dredging and ongoing maintenance might have. This includes specialists in marine ecology, sea birds and marine mammals, sediment, wave and tidal modelling, and water quality monitoring.”

Special consideration has been given to the presence of an important population of the endangered Hectors Dolphin in Lyttelton Harbour and Pegasus Bay. The Cawthron Institute, New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation, has been commissioned to undertake studies on the impact of the dredging on dolphins. This work is continuing, but at this early stage the science indicates that it is unlikely there will be any significant impact on dolphins or their food sources.

LPC has installed 14 real-time monitoring buoys throughout Lyttelton Harbour (picture attached), Port Levy and offshore marine areas to give continuous information on water quality. Parameters such as water turbidity (water clarity), pH, temperature and nutrient levels will be constantly measured during the baseline period. A summary of the data will be sent to a dedicated website every 15 minutes. When the system is up and running data will be publically accessible 24 hours a day.

Environmental monitoring will continue prior to the dredging work commencing, during, and for a period following its completion. A cultural impact assessment to identify and mitigate potential effects of the project on mana whenua values and interests has also been undertaken.

LPC continues to work closely with representatives from the community, regional and city councils, iwi, environmental and commercial groups to consult on the proposed project. To date more than 20 meetings have been held to update groups and seek their feedback on the dredging plans.

LPC’s team will be available to discuss the project at a community event at LPC’s Information Centre Port Talk, London Street, Lyttelton on Saturday 29 October 10.30am-1pm.

It is expected that a decision on the consent application will be made by the end of 2017. If consent is granted with conditions acceptable to all parties, dredging is expected to commence in early 2018 and be completed later that year.

The proposed plans, expert reports and videos of the channel deepening project can be viewed at: http://www.lpc.co.nz/port-development/dredging/  and any feedback can be sent to feedback@lpc.co.nz

LPC corporate office

41 Chapmans Road, Hillsborough, Christchurch 8022

Postal address
Private Bag 501, Lyttelton 8841, New Zealand

Phone: (+64 3) 328 8198
Email: allreceptionists@lpc.co.nz

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