Conclusion to the Clarence

Describes the work performed by the NZRCA on the Clarence quarry and the outcomes achieved. "Tranz Rail will now be compelled to reconstruct the channel to replicate the character and whitewater characteristics of the present river." This article by Maree Baker also appeared in NZ Canoeing 99.2, Spring 1999.

The continuing saga is pretty much at a happy end. The Draft Consent Order is currently being circulated amongst the parties and will most likely be acceptable to all, after eight months of negotiation.

So what did we achieve, what was all the fuss about? You will recall that Tranz Rail was granted a resource consent to extract boulders from a section of the Clarence river, giving no thought to that activity on recreational kayakers' interests or safety. So what we have achieved by this consent order is as near as possible to a guarantee that our interests and safety will not be at risk.

Tranz Rail will now be compelled to carry out their activity in a manner (specified by the conditions negotiated by us) that will provide very low risk to kayakers and other craft navigating down the Clarence.

By including strict and comprehensive conditions on pre-extraction measurements and post-extraction channel design and reconstruction the aim is that the reconstructed channel will replicate the character and durability of the present river channel and its whitewater characteristics.

If you are a glutton for punishment (as Sarah, Doug, Geoff and myself were) you are welcome to look at the final Draft Consent Order once all the parties have signed it. Of course then the Environment Court has to approve as well, so please contact me if you are curious or would like to know more details.

We learnt many valuable lessons from this exercise, as I hope Tranz Rail did. The big lessons were: Lawyers and technical experts are vital for a 'battle' such as this. They know the ins and outs and what's possible. With hindsight we may have gotten people like this involved sooner in the project.

The semi-multi disciplinary voluntary team approach was the best way to go, even if it was tough on our time and personal resources, it was well worth it (yay team!) Negotiation not confrontation was also the best approach with a well earned outcome. Once the war weary have recovered I'm sure we'll miss those endorphin rushes that we experienced each time a reply was received and we'll be looking around for a new cause to take over our lives (Ha - joke?)

But seriously folks - what next? Any ideas?