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Government undecided on Rena

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The Government is running out of time to decide on whether its own submission, worth $10.4 million, will be made on the resource consent application to leave the Rena wreck on Astrolabe Reef.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s 40-day submission period closes on August 8.

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Prime Minister John Key in Papamoa. Photo: Rachael Clarke.

The Rena’s owners and insurers have five days after this date to indicate if they’d like to head to the Environment Court with their proposal to leave the wreck on the reef.

Tauranga City councillors on Wednesday opted for a ‘neutral’ submission on the application.

Prime Minister John Key, speaking to SunLive on his visit to town yesterday, says the matter has previously been before cabinet with ministers opposing a decision at that point in time, but the matter will be raised in the coming weeks.

It is understood cabinet will meet on July 28 to decide on the Government’s response to the resource consent application, and the Prime Minister offers his assurance it will respect the August 8 deadline.

“Whether that [a submission] is ultimately put in or not, and if so when, we haven’t fully decided yet.”

The Waitangi Tribunal clarified three deeds of settlement were signed in October 2012: the Claims Deed, the Indemnity Deed, and the Wreck Removal Deed.

The settlement included $27.6 million for Crown’s claims against the owners for clean-up costs.

In the Indemnity Deed the Crown agreed to indemnify the owners against ‘certain claims by New Zealand public and local government claimants’ to a maximum of $38 million.

An additional $10.4 million would be paid “for public purposes” to the Crown if the remainder of the wreck can be left on the reef.

If the Government submits in opposition of leaving the wreck on Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef it would likely lose the additional $10.4m.

Last week’s damning Waitangi Tribunal report finds the Crown’s conduct in failing to include or consult Motiti Islanders over negotiations with the Rena owners and insurers following the grounding of the containership on the reef breached the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Prime Minister says he accepts the findings of the tribunal, but ultimately what happens to the Rena is a matter for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

“I mean that’s from the Waitangi Tribunal I think. So in the end the crown has looked at the finding of the Waitangi Tribunal; I think largely it’s around the consultation process.

“If it [the Government] does [submit] it will be a whole government submission because there are a number of agencies that are interested in offering a perspective on that. But in the end we are happy to accept what the Waitangi Tribunal said.”

Last month the regional council received a resource consent application from the Rena owners and insurers, acting under the Astrolabe Community Trust, to leave the Rena on the reef.

The applicants have applied for two consents – the first is to leave the structure of the vessel as it is currently, and some associated debris, including containers and parts of the contents of those containers.

The second is for the discharge of contaminants under section 15b of the Resource Management Act, which includes the leaching of materials from the vessel and debris that is left behind.

The container ship struck the Astrolabe Reef about 25km off the coast of Tauranga on October 5, 2011 spilling tonnes of oil that caused one of New Zealand’s biggest environmental disasters.

Comments on SunLive

The Government must support Motiti

Posted on 26-07-2014 19:27 | By Murray.Guy

The wreck is in the front yard of Motiti and the Government have a moral obligation to support them, stand alongside them. Especially so given the refusal of Tauranga City Council to be a friend to Motiti, to the environment.

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