Long Bay, Okura and the Marine reserve is under threat from further increased, intensive land development. Your help is urgently required.
Just when we thought Okura Estuary and the Long Bay Okura Marine Reserve were saved from destruction by urban development, we now find ourselves in the position of having to rally the spirit and funding to go to Court once again.
The Court process will be swift, so we need to be able to dive in right away, and we need your financial support right now to keep up our fight.
A Court process with its lawyers and experts is not a cheap venture, as we know from our previous successful engagements there – almost certainly we will need to spend well beyond $200,000.
What is at stake: in a momentous decision last month, Auckland Councillors voted almost unanimously to reject the Independent Hearing Panel’s decision to allow 750-1000 houses to be built on the southern side of the Okura Estuary. Instead, Council voted to only allow low density rural development of 4 ha blocks, thus consolidating the earlier determinations of Council, Local Board and two Environment Court decisions that the Okura Estuary should remain unsullied by further urban development.
This was a great victory for people and nature in the Unitary Plan process but landowner, Okura Land Holdings Ltd (Todd Property Group), has struck again by appealing Auckland Council’s decision.
This shocking news could spell certain doom for the future of the Marine Reserve and the wildlife that lives there. In the continuation of an epic David versus Goliath saga, we now have no option but to take on the developer in the Environment Court.
The Okura Estuary at the northern end of the North Shore is one of the last estuaries in Auckland in excellent condition. It provides a healthy environment for abundant marine life. Dolphins and whales have been seen playing in the waters and it is a feeding ground for migratory birds such as the Godwits, while endangered New Zealand dotterels breed here, classified as a Nationally Threatened species. But now this natural haven is under threat again.
Over 70,000 people walk the coastal Okura Bush Scenic Reserve walkway per annum, part of the Te Araroa Trail, enjoying the experience of walking amongst mature native forest and the stunning views of the Estuary. This will be sadly diminished by the proposed urban development directly across from the many lookouts along the walkway.
The entourage of the cliffs and bays of Long Bay Regional Park will change for the 1.4 million Aucklanders who visit the Park annually. What was an easily-accessible, yet tranquil spot with stunning views would now be overlooked by dense urban housing.
What we are facing now could well be the final step in this tale of developer vs the community. If we are not able to take our stand in this Court process to be a voice for nature, wilderness, our kids’ and grandkids’ rights to enjoy those, all that has been achieved by the hard work of the community and environment groups so far may still be lost.
We are therefore appealing to all who wish to preserve one of Auckland’s last estuaries in good condition, a Marine Reserve, to help us with your donation, now.
The Long Bay Okura Great Park Society was set up over 15 years ago to preserve the parks, coastline and Marine Reserve in the Long Bay Okura area.
The Society has run a 15 year sustained campaign, costing $640,000 and culminating in Environmental Court and Auckland Council decisions to protect the Long Bay Regional Park and Long Bay Okura Marine Reserve from impacts of urban development.
The Society is now having to go back to the Environment Court where developers are appealing the Auckland Council Unitary Plan decision to put a stop the building of 750 to 1000 houses on the edge of the Okura Estuary If such development went ahead, it would significantly threaten the Estuary, one of Auckland’s last relatively unspoiled estuaries.
As Chris Bettany, Convenor of the Long Bay Okura Great Party Society states “If development of this area goes ahead it will have catastrophic impacts on the health of the Marine Reserve. We have been fighting to protect the Estuary for over 30 years because it is vital to ensure that our children’s children will be able to experience such a beautiful and unique environment within the inner Auckland area.”
We are in need of your help to pay for the costs of protecting this unique coastline and Marine Reserve, its native species and wilderness.
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