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Revetment angers residents

Saturday October 04, 2014 Written by Published in Environment
Construction of a rock revetment (pictured here) was carried out this week at a site in Vaimaanga. 14100306, 07, 12 Construction of a rock revetment (pictured here) was carried out this week at a site in Vaimaanga. 14100306, 07, 12

Residents are expressing their outrage after construction of a controversial rock revetment in Vaimaanga this week.

Construction of the structure which stretches across two properties in Avaavaroa began after approval of a proposal by the Rarotonga Environment Authority (REA) last month.
The revetment has been described as a barrier made of large boulders, finely woven synthetic cloth (geotextile), and sand constructed on the beach side of the properties to provide protection from loss of sand, and a platform for residential construction in the near future.
One Vaimaanga resident, who did not want to be named, said she saw truckloads of gravel brought to the site on Monday, with larger rocks arriving the following day.
On Wednesday, construction on the revetment continued with the laying down of geotextile and the placement of larger rocks, she said.
“... rocks were left all over the beach, and handling the rocks close to the high tide created a thick layer of sediment in the water. The beach was left polluted with chips from the rocks and stones,” said the resident.
On Thursday, the resident said large piles of rocks were left at the waters edge after the day’s work. Yesterday, it appeared that the revetment was nearing completion.
After observing the work, the resident questioned whether the finished project exceeded an allowable distance from the mean high water mark (MHWM).
The resident said the work is being carried out by local contractor T&M Heather.
Equally angered over the pollution of the lagoon, Rarotongan businessman Andy Olah is expressing greater concern over the legitimacy of the entire process to approve the revetment.
He said he believed the EIA process carried out by authorities was flawed, as it appears approval was given without proper scrutiny or consideration of the submissions provided to officials.
Olah – who said he has been using the beach for over three decades - added that the boulders used in the revetment’s construction may also be illegal.
Last month, Te Ipukarea Society, a Rarotonga-based non-governmental organisation, expressed criticism of the EIA process after the REA issued its approval for the revetment.
TIS Technical Director Kelvin Passfield said approval was given “... apparently without giving the impacts or the alternatives any consideration.”
With regards to the process, he identified two major flaws in the Environment Act, concerning the lack of expertise of the REA members to technically assess applications and the lack of the right of appeal for someone who expresses objections to a proposal.

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