Wider motorway or marine reserve?

Last weekend I visited the Motu Manawa Marine Reserve as part of Sea Week. I was there to help Forest and Bird and Friends of the Whau with a boat based clean up of the marine reserve.

As you can see from the photo below we collected a lot of rubbish – especially given that we only had 3 to 4 boats working for a few hours. It was a real eye opener to visit this beautiful part of Auckland and to see how badly polluted it is.

Motu Manawa is the only marine reserve within the Auckland urban area. It is also the only marine reserve in New Zealand (I believe) that has a motorway actually running through it.

You can read more about the rare species living in the Motu Manawa Marine reserve on Forest and Bird’s website. Forest and Bird and other groups have done and continue to do great work there with pest-trapping and weed control.

However, the reserve has serious problems. First, although it’s easily visible from State Highway 16 (SH16) the reserve is little known and very hard to access without wading through deep mud. Second, the silt in the reserve which is next to Rosebank Peninsula has been heavily contaminated with pollutants. These may have partly come from industrial facilities on the Rosebank Peninsula or run off from SH16. Finally, the reserve is currently not getting a regular tidal flow because the culvert which runs into it under SH16 and Rosebank Road is partially blocked.

If all this wasn’t enough to deal with, the reserve is also under threat from the proposed widening of SH16.

This $800 million project (which will do little to reduce traffic congestion due to induced traffic) involves widening SH16 from 6 to 8 or 9 lanes.

Obviously, since the motorway runs through the marine reserve, widening it will reduce the size of the marine reserve. There will also be other detrimental effects – for example, the transport agency are planning to completely block the culvert under SH16 at Rosebank Road. This will mean the marine reserve will receive even less tidal flow which could endanger some of the species living there.

Under the Marine Reserves Act of 1971 the Minister of Conservation has to give consent to the New Zealand Transport Agency to do any public works within the marine reserve. Kate Wilkinson should use this opportunity to negotiate for improvements to the marine reserve and not just be cowed by her Cabinet colleagues.

For example, Forest and Bird have suggested that she could ask for better access for the public to the marine reserve (through a walkway) or for the transport agency to help cover the cost of increasing the size of the marine reserve elsewhere (such as off the coast of the Te Atatu Peninsula). She could also ask for a better culvert to help irrigate the reserve more fully or more research into just how badly polluted the silt next to Rosebank Peninsula is and whether it would be possible to get rid of some of the toxic contaminants.

Sadly, however, so far her answers to our written questions suggest she isn’t planning to do any of that.

So whilst the oceans globally are in crisis and scientists are calling for 40% of the world’s waters to be set aside in marine reserves, our Conservation Minister stands by idly while new motorways eat into our already pitifully small amount of marine reserve.

8 Comments Posted

  1. Chris

    The contamination of the Pollen Id Marine Reserve is in the evidence of Dr Karen de Luca and her section of the AEE on the NZTA Waterview Connection site.

    Forest and Bird exposed this at the Waterview Board of Inquiry hearings. And with that the issue of NZTA having no current consents to discharge contaminated stormwater into the marine reserve or the Coastal Protection Area since 2001. It appears since that time Tansit/NZTA have discharged about 250 tonnes of zinc and 40-50 tonnes of copper + other road-derived contaminants in to the marine reserve. About have of this is into thearea of the marine reserve imponded by the motorway, where it isn’t flushed away.

    Mark Bellingham
    North Id Conservation Manager
    Royal Forest + Bird Protection Society

  2. @ Chris. I could give you more information about this if you email me direct. gareth dot hughes at parliament dot govt dot nz

    There is quite a bit of sediment contamination – most likely some of it came from industry on Rosebank Road doing illegal dumping and some of it came in stormwater run off from SH16 which is contaminated with heavy metals etc from the traffic.

    To find out more see Mark Bellingham’s statement to the EPA Board of Inquiry which is hearing the details of the case. http://www.epa.govt.nz/applications/waterview/evidence-transcripts/submitter-evidence/217-2-forest-bird-mark-bellingham-statement-of-evidence.pdf

  3. The simplest and most economically efficient solution is for the government to do nothing and let the market solve the problem. The market solution will be driven by property developers who always locate their devlopements where there is surplus road capacity (or a promise has been made to provide it). But that threatens Auckland’s status as centre of the civilised universe so expect the will of the people to come down in favour of widening the motorway instead of protecting the mudflats.

  4. I would somewhat agree with you Lucy; the point more was that if you leave the status quo, then you are going to have a bottleneck. My own preferred solution would be better bus provision, along with a widening to only eight lanes total west of Waterview with the Southwestern Motorway having four lanes total emerge and the Northwestern Motorway having four lanes total emerge (this would probably be a narrowing of the existing route).

    I also would look at doing something with Waterview Interchange – mixing a motorway to motorway interchange along with a motorway to arterial interchange is a potential recipe for disaster.

  5. @ Johnston. Yes, but if you keep on following that mode of logic then ultimately you end up having to widen all of SH16 and SH20 (which incidentally NZTA seem to basically be proposing) and then in 10 years we’ll have to widen again and so on and so on… personally I’d prefer to see a buslane (or more provision for buses) included in the SH16 widening and through Waterview. That would solve a lot of the congestion problems.

  6. This $800 million project (which will do little to reduce traffic congestion due to induced traffic) involves widening SH16 from 6 to 8 or 9 lanes.

    Although it would need to be pointed out that if you tried to combine the traffic from the Waterview Connection with the traffic from the Northwestern into a six lane route, you would end up with a serious bottleneck.

  7. Hi gareth, i’m a marine ecotoxicologist and I’m interested to know what & how much sediment contamination there is? Also, how did you find out about it?


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