Te Puna “uplifted” as industrial activity may stop

The 12.2ha site owned by Tinex Group is one of three land titles that make up the Te Puna Business Park. Photo: Alisha Evans/ SunLive.

A rural Western Bay of Plenty community are “enormously reassured” that consent for non-compliant industrial activity in their area has been declined.

Tinex Group Ltd applied for retrospective resource consent for non-compliant activity at its property on Te Puna Station Road in the Te Hakao Valley.

The consent from the Western Bay of Plenty District Council was for renovation of relocatable houses, storage of empty skip bins, portable fencing and building materials. The group also wanted permission for swimming pool shell storage and storage of large earthmoving machinery tyres.

The activity was non-complaint because the required development and infrastructure was not in place before the activity began.

The requirements that had not been met included wetland planting, acoustic bunding, landscape planting, and stormwater ponds and management.

Submissions were sought on the consent application, with 194 received, and hearings were held in October.

Independent hearing commissioners James Whetu and Rob van Voorthuysen declined the application.

The commissioners weren’t satisfied the effects of stormwater runoff on water quality and safety issues at the intersection of Te Puna Road / Te Puna Station Road and the site access were minor or less, said their written decision.

The 12.2ha site owned by Tinex Group is one of three land titles that make up the Te Puna Business Park structure plan area.

The business park is 26 ha of land on Te Puna Station Road and is zoned industrial under the Western Bay of Plenty District Plan.

Priority Te Puna spokesperson Alison Cowley says they are enormously reassured that the structure plan requirements were being applied.

“We’re not celebrating, dancing around with champagne, it's just thank goodness planning rules have been applied and upheld.

“People are feeling so uplifted that there is some way for them to have a voice,” she says.

“Nobody is anti-business, but they’re definitely concerned about the environment, the roading, the stormwater.

“Just basically the appropriateness and preservation of the environment and the cultural impact.”

The incorporated society, Priority Te Puna, was formed in March last year by locals who were concerned about the industrial activity at Te Puna Business Park and its local impact.

“People are genuinely worried about traffic safety. The number of accidents we see is just enormous,” says Cowley.

A car ended up upside down after a crash at the Te Puna Road/Te Puna Station Road intersection last week, she said.

There were also lots of incidents where vehicles crossed the intersection into oncoming traffic, says Cowley.

The Te Hakao Valley is also culturally significant to mana whenua as Pirirakau occupied the Pukewhanake Pā at its headland and the wetland was once an important food source for them.

In the 1940s, extensive earthworks occurred in the valley and the Minden Stream was diverted, draining the wetland that meets the Wairoa River, for pastoral land.

Pirirakau kaumatua Neville Bidios previously told Local Democracy Reporting the Tinex development is “culturally insensitive” to Māori.

Asked what the declined resource consent meant for the applicant, council environmental consents manager Natasha Ryburn said the industrial activity must cease.

The council has also issued four abatement notices to Tinex Group because the required infrastructure was not in place.

Tinex Group appealed this, which was heard through the environment court in August.

Ryburn says the council is still waiting for the court’s decision.

“The outcome of this will determine when the activities must cease.”

The court was advised of the decision to decline the resource consent, she says.

“There are a couple of options available to the applicant at this point – appeal the resource consent decision or push forward with the more substantive consent application.”

Tinex Group has been approached for comment.

-Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.


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