Environment Waikato and Franklin District Council have granted consents for a sand extraction operation near Mercer Ferry Road.
Envirosand Mercer Ltd had applied for a land use consent from Franklin District Council to extract and process sand from a property adjoining the Waikato River. Applications to discharge dust to air, process water and overburden to ground and divert water and extract sand were lodged with Environment Waikato.
Five submissions were lodged with Franklin District Council by neighbours, the Ngati Tamaoho Trust and Transit New Zealand, with one late submission from Mercer Rowing Club. Three submissions were lodged with Environment Waikato.
The extraction is to be done within an old river channel of the Waikato River on the floodplain opposite Mercer township. The channel does not carry flows from the Waikato River under normal flow conditions but is subject to periodic flooding.
The company intends to establish and develop the site in two stages over an area of approximately eight hectares. Sand is to be extracted from within a bunded area to protect the operation from floodwaters.
Submitters were concerned about visual, flooding, stability and financial effects on their properties and the lack of consultation. They also raised concerns about the proposed nature and frequency of monitoring and review provisions.
An Environment Waikato officer said the proposed bunding posed an insignificant flooding threat to potentially affected parties. While concerns about potential erosion and land stability were valid, they could be addressed through the proposed monitoring and review conditions. Proposed setback distances from sand extraction activity and adjacent hills were enough to ensure slope stability. Monitoring for land movement should also be undertaken as a precautionary measure, he said.
The Hearing Committee agreed with staff recommendations for a five yearly review period and that annual surveys would provide appropriate baseline information on hill slope movement before excavation within Stage II.