Nor West News : March 24th 2011
www.nor-westnews.co.nz Thursday, March 24, 2011 Tourism a key issue By KAREN MANGNALL Mass mover: The inner city rail loop and rapid transit rail to the airport and North Shore is at the heart of Auckland's 30-year growth plan debated at the Auckland Unleashed summit hosted by mayor Len Brown. Photo: PETER MEECHAM/FAIRFAX MEDIA DEVELOPING tourism for the northwest while pre- serving its green zones is a key issue for the supercity s 30-year plan debated at the Auckland Unleashed summit hosted by mayor Len Brown. The summit of 350 busi- ness, community and political leaders including Prime Min- ister John Key is to kick-start the Auckland Plan, the blue- print for the city s long-term growth. Mr Brown says the serious debate starts now about how to transform Auckland into an internationally competi- tive home to two million people by 2040. And he s urging all Auck- landers to contribute ideas to help draft the Auckland Plan to go out for public consul- tation in August before it s finalised in December. I want them to get their love and passion for this place out front, debate it with me and let s put it in this plan and build this great city. For the northwest it means developing the major poten- tial for tourism around vineyards, eco-tours, retail and beach life, Mr Brown says. There s extraordinary opportunity around Helens- ville and Kaipara. There ll also be some strong statements about preservation of rural amenity and rural agricultural sectors. How and where to house and provide jobs for a million extra residents over the next 30 years is at the heart of the Auckland Plan, he says. The debate is whether Auckland s growth should be kept largely constrained within the Metropolitan Urban Limit or to get rid of it and let the city spread. The Auckland Council s preference is to build a com- pact city by growing up instead of out with more intensive residential, com- mercial and industrial devel- opment, he says. But they re keen to avoid repeats of the shoebox devel- opment down Nelson St . The way forward is to make sure there s plenty of surrounding green space and to soften the edges and make it as beautiful as we can. Three target areas that can transform the city s economic performance and advance the mayor s vision of Auckland as the most liveable city in the world are identified in the Auckland Plan discussion paper: A north-western oppor- tunity area with wineries and eco-tourism, a high-tech inno- vation centre in Albany, and marine and film industries in west Auckland The international city cen- tre and waterfront as Auck- land s civic, entertainment, business, academic and research heart, and a world class visitor destination A southern opportunity area capitalising on the air- port and inland port as a hub for logistics and distribution, food and technology manufac- turing, and tertiary skills training The key to unleashing the potential in these areas is an integrated bus, ferry and rail network -- in particular the $2 billion inner city rail loop, rapid rail to the airport and to the North Shore, Mr Brown says. We have got to build an infrastructure that will enable us to become a true international city and move our people with comfort. It s also crucial to Auck- land s future as an eco-city and tourism destination that s creating jobs and exports as the innovation capital of the Pacific , Mr Brown says. Other goals for the 30-year plan include more affordable housing and to improve edu- cational and skills levels for young people. The Auckland Plan will require collaboration with government and the private sector so another important debate is who will pay for what, Mr Brown says. Turbine builders keeping an eye on dolphins By RICHARD MEADOWS The Conservation Depart- ment is working with Crest Energy to create a monitoring programme for endangered Maui s dolphins in the Kaipara Harbour. The power company plans to install up to 200 tidal turbines in the mouth of the harbour, an area where the dolphins have been sighted. The Maui s dolphin is close to extinction with an estimated population of fewer than 120. The Environment Court has approved Crest Energy s project on the condition that monitoring of the harbour environment is done before, during and after installation of the first three turbines. DOC Maui s dolphin recov- ery group leader Phil Brown says: We have been talking with Crest about how to quantify the risks to Maui s. There is some concern because Maui s do overlap with where they re talking about putting the turbines. What we don t know is just what it will mean for them. The slow breeding rate of the dolphin means anything that disturbs their lifestyle can have a huge impact. If you reduce their repro- ductive output by even a small amount that could be fatal for the species, he says. The future of the tidal power project will be deter- mined by the information gathered during monitoring. Maui s dolphins are the world s smallest at 1.4 metres long and are easily recognis- able by their grey bodies and rounded black dorsal fins. They are regularly sighted along the west coast of the North island and are unafraid of people and boats. Surfer Shanan Healy has seen Maui s dolphins five times at Rimmer Rd north of Muriwai over the past two years. Wesawapodof10to12 Maui s approaching us and they started to jump and play all around us. We surfed with them and had up to three Maui s under us surfing and showing off for an hour. Recreational fisherman Richard Berkett often spots the dolphins when he takes his boat out at Rimmer Rd. Once they came right up to the boat and started playing around with the anchor rope. DOC asks that people report sightings of Maui s dolphins at www.doc.govt.nz or by calling the DOC hotline on 0800-362-468. -- Richard Meadows is an AUT journalism student Go to www.nor-west news.co.nz to see mayor Len Brown talking about the Auckland Plan.
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