Chelsea sugar refinery Media Coverage

Pollution at Auckland’s Chelsea Bay ponds leaves locals angry with council

Dead eels, paralysed ducks and violently green water has left some Chelsea Bay locals concerned the pollution in the ponds surrounding the iconic sugar factory is getting out of control.

A number of ponds near the Chelsea Sugar Factory on Auckland’s North Shore play host to a raft of native and exotic fish species.

However, locals are concerned the wildlife is in danger because they feel Auckland Council is not doing enough to stop pollutants getting in the pond.

Resident Doug Waters said every summer the water gets an algal bloom, but this season the pollution seemed particularly bad.

“I don’t think the council are even going anywhere near to do doing enough. The bottom line is there should not be that degree of algal bloom. I think they are treating the ponds as waste water plants.”

On a daily basis, dead or sick ducks were being pulled from the water, along with eels, Waters said. The ducks were likely getting sick from avian botulism, which can leave them paralysed.

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Raw sewage had leaked into the ponds, along with litter and other contaminants, Waters said. When it rained, the water in the ponds spilled over into the sea at Chelsea Bay which left Waters wondering if wider bay was being polluted.

“From time to time I swim across Chelsea Bay, but you are swimming through an area which is potentially toxic. People walk their dogs down there at low tide, and the dogs splash in that water, and people walk through the water. It is a health hazard.”

While the ponds sit close to the sugar factory, they are the responsibility of the Auckland Council. Another local, who did not want to be named, said it was the council, not Chelsea, who needed to clean up their act.

“If anyone should be doing the right thing it is Auckland Council,” she said.

“Any waterway has got to be protected, you have a special waterway with significant fish in it, they are allowing it to be polluted, and that pollution is going out in the sea – and area which is used a lot for recreation. You could say the sea is so big it can cope, but it is all incremental.”

However, Auckland Council General Manager for Healthy Waters Craig Mcilroy said they had not received any reports of dead or sick wildlife.

“We have not received reports of wildlife getting sick at this site,” he said.

In order to prevent the spread of duck botulism and other related toxins, the council suggests members of the public pick up their pets’ waste and dispose of it.

They also advise against feeding ducks.

People should report sightings of sick or dead ducks, or even swans, to the council on 09 301 0101.

Mcilroy said they were alerted to a leak in a wastewater pipe at Chelsea Bay on Friday, January 12, but it had since been fixed.

“Once alerted to the leak, Watercare crew attended the site, stopped the leak and repaired the pipe by Friday evening. We are currently awaiting reinstatement.”

Mcilroy added that there were two culverts leaking nutrients into the pond from a nearby landfill site, which was likely a “major factor” in causing the algal bloom.

“The council’s Healthy Waters team is currently working on redirecting the culverts, which should make a significant impact on reducing the nutrients entering the ponds and solve the algal bloom issue.

“We expect to finish this project by the end of 2018,” he said.

Sylvia Durrant, who helps care for sick birds, said a mixture of high temperatures and low water levels often caused botulism to spread.

“When the water levels go down, the ducks eat off the bottom of pond which is where the toxins live.”

Over the past three weeks, Durrant had cared for twenty ducks from the Chelsea Bay ponds. She believed it wasn’t just the council’s responsibility, but also the public’s.

“Whenever anyone tips something down the gutter, or litters it ends up in the ponds. It’s not just the council’s fault.”

According to the Chelsea Sugar Factor website, the ponds have large koi carp and short and long-finned eels, along with native fish species include inanga, kokopu and common bully.

Article by Tommy Livingston
Published 17 January 2018 > Business Day –

Chelsea Park Trust Media Coverage

Chelsea park may be scapped

AT RISK: Neil Darroch is worried the opportunity for a public park at the picturesque Chelsea Estate will slip away.

Court action could kill plans for a $20 million public park near the Chelsea Sugar Refinery.

The Auckland Regional Council and New Zealand Historic Places Trust are appealing a district plan change allowing development at the refinery, in the Environment Court.

In response the refinery has put off plans to sell 37 hectares of its prime seaside section to the Chelsea Park Trust.

That sale was conditional on it being allowed to put up to 528 units on another 15 hectares, which include its iconic pink buildings.

Chelsea Park Trust spokesman Neil Darroch says the appeals are likely to crush any chance of a park at Chelsea.

The refinery is sick of delays and is ready to pull out of the conditional purchase agreement, he says.

“If this goes to a hearing it is very likely Chelsea will pull out of the deal. They’ve had enough. It’s taken so long and been so costly.”

It’s unlikely there will be another chance to turn land at Chelsea into a public park if this deal falls through, Mr Darroch says.

“If there ever is another chance to purchase, it will probably be unaffordable.

“This is a sad day.”

PROPOSED PARK: The Chelsea Sugar Refinery wants to sell 37 hectares of its land for a public park and keep another 15 hectares for redevelopment.

It’s disappointing the appeals have been lodged, says Chelsea’s New Zealand general manager Bernard Duignan.

If they hadn’t, the park sale would almost certainly have gone ahead, he says.

“We’re very disappointed. I wouldn’t have seen any other impediments to the sale.”

The historic places trust says it is appealing the district plan change to help save Chelsea Estate for North Shore residents.

It is concerned about the decision to allow up to 528 units on the land, which it sees as an important industrial heritage site.

Development that intense could have a huge impact on the landscape, it says.

When contacted by the North Shore Times, a regional council spokesperson said talks on its appeal are under way.

The council hopes to reach a compromise that would see it withdraw court action.

Long-serving Harbour ward councillor and Chelsea park supporter Tony Holman has spoken out against the appeals.

The objections aren’t worth jeopardising a park that would be a huge asset for the North Shore, he says.

“There may be some things within the decision that are concerning but the time for dealing with them is in the future.
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“We have an opportunity to buy a magnificent park. Losing it would be an absolute disaster for the whole region.”

The refinery agreed to sell 37 hectares of its prime Birkenhead seaside section to the Chelsea Park Trust for $20 million in 2005.

The North Shore City Council agreed to pay $10m of that, with the ASB Charitable Trust, regional council and the government providing the rest.

The only condition was that the refinery be granted a district plan change rezoning 15 hectares of its land for future residential use.

That was granted by independent commissioners last year despite dozens of objections from residents.

No court date has been set for the appeals by the regional council and historic places.


Photo/s by: BEN WATSON/North Shore Times
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Chelsea Park Trust Media Coverage

Sweet news for Chelsea park

A 37-hectare public park has been given the green light at Chelsea Refinery in Birkenhead.

Chelsea Sugar has agreed to sell the land around its iconic pink painted refinery buildings for $20 million, more than two years after proposing the deal.

Only a final seal of approval from the Environment Court is needed for the purchase to go ahead.

“The deal has essentially gone unconditional,” says Chelsea Sugar general manager Bernard Duignan.

“This land is going to be maintained as a park.”

Legal action by the Auckland Regional Council and New Zealand Historic Places Trust had threatened to sink the park deal.

Both appealed a North Shore District Plan change allowing 528 units on about 15 hecatres of refinery land to the Environment Court.

Chelsea Sugar had threatened to pull out of the park deal if the plan change wasn’t approved.

It took a compromise agreement between all the parties to get the company to put the purchase back on the table.

That extended the amount of consultation required if the refinery does decide to develop some of its land.

Mr Duignan says it’s unlikely development will ever go ahead.

“I can say absolutely and categorically we have no plans of developing the land. We’ve been operating here for 125 years.”

North Shore City Council community services and parks committee chairman Tony Holman says the park will be an asset to all Shore residents.

It will guarantee them with the longest section of bush-clad coastline on the Waitemata Harbour, he says.

Ten million dollars for the park purchase will come from North Shore council, $6m from ASB Charitable Trust, $2m from Auckland Regional Council and $2m from the government.

The idea of a park on the Uruamo headland in Birkenhead was first proposed a decade ago.

The Environment Court has 60 days to ratify the park purchase.


Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times