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Published: 2013-08-21 00:00:00

A charge to cover mangrove removal at Tairua will be included in rates bills being sent to local residents shortly by Waikato Regional Council.

The charge – of around $18 a household for the Tairua catchment - was the cost indicated by council and agreed with the community in 2012 to support mangrove removal and associated works. This charge is to cover the estimated cost of the consent process, removal of mangroves, monitoring and mitigation.

The council’s river and catchment services group (RCS) is currently in the final stages of securing resource consent to do the work. It has applied to remove about 21 hectares of mature mangroves, plus a mangrove seedling removal consent for the whole harbour.

The RCS application to the council’s resource use group was made after development of a Tairua Harbour and Catchment Management Plan.

This plan – and the application for consent - takes a holistic approach to vegetation management in the harbour.

“It’s not just about mangrove clearance,” said project manager Emily O’Donnell.

“Under the plan significant coastal habitats such as salt marsh, coastal wetland and forest, and vegetation sequences will be enhanced through restoration works.”

Besides mangroves RCS plans to carry out control of salt water paspalum in key areas including Grahams Creek and Oturu wetland.

The application was developed under the harbour and catchment management plan process and supported by the general Tairua community, iwi, the community board and Thames-Coromandel District Council. It has also involved discussions with Forest & Bird and the Department of Conservation. This approach drew on the council’s experience with mangrove removal in Whangamata where disagreements over the right approach helped drive up costs.

One party has submitted in opposition to the application and discussions are underway to try and resolve the issues raised. If no resolution can be found RCS have requested a hearing date be set for mid September.

If a hearing can be avoided it is hoped that the first stage of mangrove removal work can begin before Christmas, subject to consent conditions being met. Removal of wilding pines, wattle and pampas at the Oturu wetland - another facet of the harbour and catchment management plan - is already underway.