Port reclamation fast-tracked to assist recovery

  • Gerry Brownlee
  • Nick Smith
Environment Earthquake Recovery

The government has approved the fast-tracking of a 10-hectare reclamation of Lyttelton's Port using rubble from Christchurch's earthquakes, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Environment Minister Nick Smith announced today.

"A streamlined process for this reclamation is needed to enable Lyttelton Port to quickly recover and to provide a practical way to deal with some of the estimated 8.5 million tonnes of rubble and material from the earthquake," Mr Brownlee said.

"Around 42,000 tonnes of earthquake rubble was deposited on the site of the reclamation during the civil emergency phase of the earthquake recovery authorised by the National Controller.  This consent will enable approximately 1 million tonnes of rubble to be used for the reclamation.

"This decision to streamline the consent process is to ensure we have a proper plan for the reclamation but within a practical timeframe given the importance to Canterbury's recovery."

Dr Smith said it wasn't practical to subject this reclamation to the normal consent process that would take six months and then be open to appeals to the Environment Court statutorily taking another 18 months. 

"We are giving the powers to Environment Canterbury and the Christchurch City Council to process the consent on a non-notified basis, subject to specific consultation with the Lyttelton-Mt Herbert Community Board, Ngai Tahu, the Department of Conservation, the NZ Historic Places Trust, Maritime New Zealand, and the Lyttelton and Diamond Harbour Community Associations.

"I have been influenced in decisions to fast-track Port Lyttelton's earthquake recovery by my recent visit to Kobe, whose port also suffered extensive damage in their 1995 earthquake. 

"Their disaster recovery team advised me that pre-earthquake Kobe was Japan's eighth largest port but the city lost so much trade in the aftermath that it fell to 30th and 15 years later had still not recovered.  This loss of trade had significantly hampered Kobe's economic recovery.  Their advice was that we should take every practical step in Christchurch to retain Lyttelton's port trade.

"This fast-tracked consent process is for the purposes of supporting Port Lyttelton's existing trade and the recovery.  The port has lost 30 per cent of its operational space from earthquake damage and 14 hectares of container terminal will need to be repaired at least twice over the next three to five years due to ongoing settlement caused by the earthquakes.  Inland capacity will also be required to support the supply chain of materials needed for Canterbury's rebuild.

"This pragmatic response provides substantial cost savings and emissions reductions as well as helping the port’s recovery. It will enable suitable rubble to be directly trucked from the city to the port rather than being double handled and carted to and from the Burwood Resource and Recovery Park. This has been estimated to save around $90 million.

"The government's ambition is to reuse as much of the earthquake waste as possible. This initiative at Port Lyttelton will still leave millions of tonnes of waste to be dealt with. CERA, councils and the Ministry for the Environment are working on further proposals to maximise the reuse of earthquake waste. 

"The Order in Council specifically excludes the new reclaimed area being used for coal storage or handling.  This is a contentious issue with some residents and, if Port Lyttelton wishes such a future use, it will need to go through the normal resources consent process."

The Order in Council under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act has been considered and supported by the Review Panel, was approved by Executive Council on Monday, and will take effect tomorrow when it is gazetted.

CERA is responsible for rebuilding greater Christchurch and its surrounds, and supporting the welfare of its residents.  For more information visit www.cera.govt.nz