MV Rena Resource Consent Process
Decision dated 26 February 2016
The applications by the ASTROLABE COMMUNITY TRUST for the following resource consents:
- consent to “dump” the remains of the MV Rena, its equipment and cargo on Astrolabe Reef as a result of the grounding of the vessel on 5 October 2011 pursuant to Section 15A of the RMA; and
- consent to “discharge” any harmful substances or contaminants from the remains of the MV Rena, its equipment and cargo that may occur over time as a result of the degradation of the vessel pursuant to Section 15B of the RMA;
have been granted subject to a comprehensive suite of conditions outlined within the 451 page decision document.
A full copy of this decision is contained in the links below with hard copies available through the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
- MV Rena Decision- Full Report – Volume One and both Appendices (Note: The full report is broken down into sections. To view sections, please click here.)
- Updated Decision Report, 15 March 2016:
- MV Rena Decision_Part1
- MV Rena Decision_Part2
Hearing now closed!
The Hearing adjourned on 9 October 2015 following the presentation of evidence over five weeks (20 hearing days) from a number of witnesses, counsel and submitters. The evidence covered a lot of matters with some complex issues.
The Commissioners would like to express their thanks and appreciation to all those involved with the Hearing for the manner in which their submissions of evidence were presented, their courtesy and industry. The Commissioners acknowledge the concerted amount of effort that would have been required to enable submissions to be made.
The further conferencing undertaken by the Ecology, Contaminants and Planning Experts, and facilitated by Marlene Oliver (Facilitator) were appreciated and the Commissioners issued a directive that any party other than the Council that wished to comment on the Proposed Consent Conditions dated 8 October 2015 were to do so by 23 October 2015 . The Council responded accordingly by 30 October 2015. The Hearing was formally closed on 30 October 2015, the date of the last memorandum lodged with the Hearing Administrator.
The Commissioners will now analyse all of the evidence and apply the requisite statutory principles. The timeframe for a decision to be issued was 18 December 2015, however this timeframe has been extended to 26 February 2016.
What is this all about?
On Wednesday, 5 October 2011 at 2:20am the 37,000 tonne cargo ship MV Rena grounded on Otaiti (Astrolabe) reef. The vessel had 1368 containers and approximately 1,700 tonnes of oil on board.
In the initial months following the grounding a massive clean-up operation was undertaken, and then a sustained period devoted to wreck salvage. That salvage operation is nearing its final stage as the major international firm doing the work winds down its operation, and a local firm takes over to continue clearing the debris.
A detailed timeline of events about the grounding, response and salvage can be found on the Rena Recovery website.
In May 2014 the Rena’s owner lodged resource consent applications under the Resource Management Act to leave sections of the wreck and associated debris in place on Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef, and to provide for any future discharges of contaminants that may arise from leaving the wreck in place.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council publicly notified the Applications and sought the views of the community. In total 153 submissions were received. On 6 November 2014 the Council released its report on the Application, which summarised submissions and analysed a number of technical reports. The Applicant originally indicated that it intended to seek a direct referral to the Environment Court, but following the release of that Council report, the Applicant decided to proceed to a Council hearing. The Council appointed Commissioners to hear the Application, and the hearing date was set to commence on 7 September 2015.
This website continues to provide up-to-date information on the Application process, and provides interested parties with an opportunity to receive accurate and timely information.
What has happened?
The Regional Council delegated and appointed the decision-making to an expert panel of Hearing Commissioners; Judge G Whiting, Dr S Kelly and Messrs R Kirikiri and J Lumsden. After hearing all of the evidence and submissions the Commissioners will deliberate and make a decision, which becomes the formal decision of the Council.
The Regional Council is generally required to begin the hearing within 15 working days of the Applicant notifying that it wishes to proceed with a Council hearing. However this was extended to ensure the availability of appropriately qualified Commissioners. On 25 February the Council announced that the Council hearing would begin on 23 June 2015, at the ASB Arena, Truman Lane, Mount Maunganui. At a pre-hearing conference on 22 April this date was extended to 7 September 2015.
The Applicant and submitters were notified and a Hearing schedule was developed to allow submissions to be presented over five weeks at the ASB Arena.
All submissions, technical reports, the Council’s report on the submissions, daily digital hearing recordings and tabled documents are available on this website.
Anyone who made a submission was entitled to present their submission in person. The Hearings were held in public and were open for anyone to attend
What happens now?
A decision on the Application is generally required to be issued 15 working days after the Hearing ends, but this time has been extended due to the complexities of the Application. The Hearing formally closed on 30 October 2015. The Commissioners have now entered into deliberations and the timeframe for a decision to be issued was 18 December 2015 but was extended to 26 February 2016.
If submitters disagree with the decision from the Commissioners, they will have 15 working days, or three weeks after the decision is made to lodge appeals with the Environment Court.
Resource Consent Applications
Read the applications and find more information.
154 Submissions to the Rena Resource Consent Application were received.
Read the submissions on the Resource Consent Application on our Submissions page.
Council’s S87F report on the Application and submissions
The Council was required to prepare a report for the Environment Court on the
Application and matters raised in submissions. Read the report.
Independent reports commissioned by the Regional Council
The Council commissioned a number of independent reviews of the supporting material
provided by the Applicant. Read these reports.
Evidence received at the Hearing
The Hearing Commissioners received a large amount of evidence and supporting material during the Hearing from the Applicant and submitters.
Mōrena koutou In the Decision of 26 February 2016, the Panel allowed for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council as Consent Authority to respond to any minor omissions or mistakes in the Conditions of Consent. Please find attached, the Panel’s response to Council’s memorandum of 8 March 2016. 2016-03-15 Addendum to Decision Appendix One – […]
The applications by the ASTROLABE COMMUNITY TRUST for: 1) consent to “dump” the remains of the MV Rena, its equipment and cargo on Astrolabe Reef as a result of the grounding of the vessel on 5 October 2011 pursuant to Section 15A of the RMA; and 2) consent to “discharge” any harmful substances or […]
THE DECISION OF THE PANEL ON THE MV RENA RESOURCE CONSENT APPLICATIONS WILL BE RELEASED AT 2.00 PM ON FRIDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2016. The decision documents will be available from the website from 2.00 pm.
(Frequently Asked Questions)
- What is the resource consent application requesting?
The application is made under sections 15A and 15B of the Resource Management Act 1991(RMA) to “dump” (abandon) the wreck and associated debris on the seabed and to authorise any potential further discharges of contaminants from the wreck. These sections of the RMA implement international conventions that New Zealand is a party to in respect of shipping mishaps.
The application does not seek retrospective consent for the grounding, or its aftermath. The grounding event and subsequent discharges have been dealt with by the prosecution and conviction of the officers responsible and the owner under the RMA.
- Who has lodged the application?
The application has been made by a Trust Entity known as the Astrolabe Community Trust (the Trust) which has been established by the owner of the Rena, Daina Shipping Co, (the “owner”) and The Swedish Club (TSC), Daina’s insurer (the “insurer”).
The Trust will be established as a charitable trust and will administer the proposed restoration and mitigation measures forming part of proposed consent conditions.
- What is the proposed state of the Rena to be left on Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef in the resource consent application?
The application details that the wreck will be left in an ‘as benign as practicable state’ in the opinion of the Applicant and its experts. The application indicates that this is not the state of the wreck at the time the Application is lodged and acknowledges that on-going work is required to get to this point.
If the application is successful, any resource consent granted will define a state in which the wreck shall be left. It will be the responsibility of the consent holder to continue the salvage and clean-up work until this point is reached. If the Application is unsuccessful the Applicant may be required to undertake total removal of the vessel, depending on the outcome of the consent process.
- Why has the applicant applied to leave the wreck in place on the reef?
The Applicant considers wreck removal an impracticable option because of the significant cost involved, with no guarantee of success and the high level of health and safety risk to salvors during the operation.
The Applicant also highlights the extended length of time required to complete full wreck removal, likely to involve many years, and the potential for adverse social and recreational impacts this could impose on the community.
The Applicant also claims that full wreck removal could prolong the period of time before the reef and the environment recovers, and the Applicant believes that full wreck removal could inflict further damage on the reef and the environment.
Finally, the Applicant also considers that, should the wreck stay, the Applicant could then make a wider contribution back to the region through restoration and mitigation packages proposed as part of the application. The Applicant argues that this could help to support the ongoing development of a wide range of community projects across the Bay of Plenty.
- Which experts has the Applicant used to develop the resource consent application?
The Applicant has engaged a team of technical experts to investigate and provide technical assessments on the effects of leaving the wreck in place on Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef. These reports include:
• Water Quality and Ecotoxicity – Cawthron
• Coastal Processes – MetOcean Solutions Ltd
• Natural Character – Beca
• Ecology and Fisheries – Bioresearches Ltd
• Antifouling Paint – Safinah
• Marine Mammals – Cawthron
• Acoustics – Marshall Day Acoustics
• Avifauna – Kessels Associates
• Social Impact – Beca
• Recreation – R&R Consulting (NZ Ltd)
• Navigation Safety – Nigel Drake
• Recreational Dive Safety – Dr Des Gorman, Shane Wasik
• Human Health – Dr Francesca Kelly
• Cultural Impact – Dr Des Kahotea and others
The Applicant has also undertaken consultation with key stakeholders locally, regionally and nationally since the grounding occurred, and this has helped them to shape the resource consent application.
- How can I get a copy of the resource consent application and supporting information?
- Who do I contact regarding the Hearing Panel/Hearing Administrator?
Contact details for contacting the Hearing Panel/Hearing Administrator phone 0800 884 880 or email Rena.HearingAdministrator@boprc.govt.nz
- What technical expertise has the Regional Council engaged to inform it for the consent process?
The Regional Council has engaged technical experts to advise them throughout the application process. Where the Regional Council did not have the in-house technical expertise we engaged external parties from within New Zealand and, in some instances, further afield. The experts engaged by the Regional Council are:
• Water Quality and Ecotoxicity – BOPRC – Science Team and TropWater – James Cook University, Brisbane, Australia
• Coastal Processes – BOPRC – Science Team and TropWater – James Cook University
• Natural Character – BOPRC– Consent/Policy Team
• Ecology and Fisheries – Wildlands Consultants, TropWater – James Cook University and BOPRC – Science Team
• Antifouling Paint – TropWater – James Cook University
• Marine Mammals – Wildlands Consultants and BOPRC
• Acoustics – Wildlands Consultants
• Avifauna – Wildlands Consultants
• Social Impact – BOPRC – Consent/Policy Team
• Recreation – TRC Tourism
• Navigation Safety – BOPRC – Harbour Masters
• Recreational Dive Safety – Knight Line Ltd
• Human Health – Environmental Science and Research (ESR)
• Cultural Impact – Opus Consultants NZ and BOPRC
• Wreck Deterioration – SKM Consultants
• Wreck Removal – Global Salvage Consultants
• Resource Consent Planning – Mitchell Partnerships Ltd and BOPRC Consent Team
- What happens now that the Applicant has decided to have the resource consent heard by the Regional Council?
The Regional Council is generally required to begin the hearing within 15 working days of the Applicant notifying that it is not proceeding to the Environment Court, however we can extend this time.
- Will the decision be made by Regional Councillors?
The Regional Council delegates the decision-making to an expert panel of Hearing Commissioners and they make a decision ‘as Council’. The Ministry for the Environment has more information on this process. Read its publication about appearing at a consent hearing.
- How much notice will I get of where and when the hearing is to be held?
The hearing is to begin on 7 September, 2015 at the ASB Centre, Truman Lane Mount Maunganui. Evidence will be circulated before the hearing.
- How long does the Hearing Committee have to make a decision once they’ve heard the evidence and submitters?
A decision is generally required to be issued 15working days after the hearing ends, but this time can be extended. There is also no time limit on the amount of time a hearing can take. Once a hearing has begun it can even be adjourned if needed.
- I want to present in support of my submission – can I do that?
Yes – as someone who made a submission you are entitled to present your submission in person. If you didn’t indicate on your submission that you would like to be heard, and would now like to, please let the Regional Council know by calling 0800 884 880.
- Can I attend the hearings?
Yes – The media and the public can attend hearings.
The Council’s report on the application and submissions
- What does S87F mean?
S87F refers to section 87F of the Resource Management Act 1991. This section sets out the Council’s processing of a resource consent application. Read the RMA
Once the Applicant has received the Council’s report it has 10 days to confirm that it still wants the Environment Court to hear the case.
- Who reviewed submissions?
Council officers reviewed the submissions and for technical matters referred sections to relevant specialists. The Council’s role is to address a range of statutory issues as set out in the RMA (sections 104-112), to suggest conditions for the Environment court to consider and to provide an accurate summary of ALL submissions.
- Why did the Council decide to refer the Application to the Environment Court?
The Council’s independent experts assessed the Application and supporting material. Many factors were considered.
- What must be considered in the Council’s s87F report?
The Council must:
• (a)address issues that are set out in sections 104 to 112 of the RMA to the extent that they are relevant to the application; and
• (b)suggest conditions that it considers should be imposed if the Environment Court grants the application; and
• (c) provide a summary of submissions received.
- What is in sections 104-112 of the RMA?
- What does the toxicology report say about the surrounding waters?
A comprehensive scientific sampling and monitoring programme of the Bay of Plenty’s beaches, estuaries, coastline, offshore islands, kaimoana (seafood) and Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef, known as the Rena Environmental Recovery Monitoring Programme has been undertaken by Te Mauri Moana, a collective led by Professor Chris Battershill, the University of Waikato’s coastal science chair.
This programme found that the grounding has had little long-term effect. This is largely because volunteers and contractors worked quickly to clean up debris and oil from beaches and rocks. You can find the full monitoring report and answers to frequently asked questions about it on the Rena Recovery Website.
An Assessment of Environmental Effects, including the supporting technical reports, can be obtained the Application documents on this site or via the Rena Project website. Section 6 of Volume One and Volume Two
- How detrimental was the spill to the marine and wildlife in the Bay of Plenty region?
You can find out more about the spill and its environmental effects on the Rena Recovery website.
- Have the containers that sank been recovered or tested? What actions have been/are being taken to find the lost cargo?
There are 32 containers that were identified outside the vessel. The applicant has not planned to recover these as they are either empty or their contents are not considered harmful. Those containers that have been identified as containing hazardous materials have been removed.
- Were any hazardous chemicals spilt?
The vessel manifest shows there was a limited amount of hazardous materials being transported on the Rena which have all been accounted for. Environmental monitoring programmes seek to confirm what the lasting effect of these contaminants will be. The applicant’s Assessment of Environmental Effects available on this website has more information on hazardous materials.
- What technology is being used to assess the damage and aid recovery?
Physical damage to the reef is being assessed by underwater video; Impact on organisms from toxic materials is being assessed by the comprehensive sampling programme. Sonar provides information on how the wreck is positioned on the reef.
- How much of the wreck is still on the reef and where is it?
The image below is from a sonar scan taken after Cyclone Lusi. The colours show water depth. The red and orange are shallow areas of the reef and yellow to dark green deeper depths. The area of black is where they have not been able to scan because of the shallow water depth.
The wreck is in grey and rests in three main blocks. The largest area of grey is the engine room and what is left of the accommodation block. This now rests on its side in deep water. The centre grey is the side of the ship’s hull from the cargo hold and a range of other debris. The remnants of the bow sit in shallow water mostly at the top of the reef (the black area), with the bulbous bow lying slightly deeper. There is a small area of grey at the centre top of the picture and this appears to be a number of containers. The scattered grey near the accommodation block (bottom of picture) are hatch covers and other general debris.
- What impact does bad weather, such as Cyclone Lusi, have on the Rena?
Bad weather can affect the position of the remaining parts of the vessel and its cargo on the reef. For example, Cyclone Lusi did move the vessel down the reef. Bad weather can also break up the material and move it around, which may make recovery more difficult or release debris to the surrounding environment.
What has happened so far?
Stage and tasks
- Application lodged
- Application reviewed for completeness
- Application is accepted as complete
- Application publically notified
- Close of submission period
- Applicant lodged request to directly refer the application to the Environment Court
- Council decision on Direct Referral request and notify the Applicant
- Council releases s87F report
- Council extends time for Applicant to respond to s87F report until 4 December
- Applicant announces decision to proceed with Council hearing
- Council appoints Commissioners to hear application
- Resource Consent Hearing
- Hearing Commissioners Decision
- Friday 30 May 2014
- Friday 6 June
- Monday 9 June
- Friday 13 June
- 8 August (40 working days for submissions)
- 15 Aug (within five working days from close of submissions)
- 5 September (Within 15 working days of receiving the request for Direct Referral.)
- 6 November
- 20 November
- 4 December
- 3 February
- Monday 7 September – Thursday 24 September 2015
Thursday 1 October 2015 – Friday 9 October 2015
- 18 December 2015
Resources / Links
- Bay of Plenty Regional Council: www.boprc.govt.nz/
- Owners salvage programme: www.renaproject.co.nz
- Rena Recovery Project: www.renarecovery.org.nz/
- Environment Court processes: www.justice.govt.nz/courts/environment-court
- Resource consents process: www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/rma/everyday/index.html
- Resource Management Act: www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1991/0069/latest/DLM230265.html
- Response to the grounding: www.maritimenz.govt.nz