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Council approves boat ramp for Narrows

Environment Waikato has granted consents to build a boat ramp at the Narrows reserve.

Waikato District Council had applied for earthworks and resource consents to build the 4.5 metre wide and 27.5 metres long concrete ramp on the right riverbank in a high risk erosion area of the Waikato River. The existing access track will also be widened and sealed to create a turning area. Eleven submissions were received.

The district council said the facility would enhance access to the river and provide for the community’s well-being by providing more recreational opportunities for people to enjoy. The main issue for submitters was riverbank erosion due to boats using the ramp, however it was difficult to isolate erosion effects from the ramp from other factors contributing to erosion in the Waikato River.

Monitoring effects from ramp use would be futile, and it would not want to be made to pay for effects from other uses, such as the hydro operation, the district council said. The most practical means would be a restriction on boat speeds in that part of the river.

An owner of a riverside property was concerned about erosion of his riparian property by boat wakes, as well as concerns about the aesthetics and safety of erosion protection structures suggested. The level of funding offered by the applicant towards protection measures was inadequate, and he was concerned about safety of river users with increased boat numbers.

Environment Waikato Resource Officer Richard Duirs said concerns about the effects on local amenity values were not issues to be addressed through the consent. The scale of erosion effects from the ramp was difficult to quantify, predict or isolate from other factors. Monitoring for a two to three year period was the most appropriate way, he said.

Speed restrictions could only be extended under the navigation safety bylaws for safety reasons, not for erosion protection.

The Hearing Committee said public access in this part of the river and the high demand for the facility was highlighted through the strong support for the proposal expressed through public submissions.

The Committee acknowledged there was a realistic potential for erosion, but the effects were difficult to quantify or predict. The monitoring programme would need specific reference to boat ramp use, any significant changes in the management of river levels and storm events which may have an effect.

The area is to be monitored for three years, with the consent granted for 35 years.

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