Environmental commissioner declines tank farm build at Whareroa Marae

By Te Ao - Māori News

The Whareroa Marae community in Tauranga is applauding the decision from an environmental commissioner to decline an application to build a fuel tank farm close by.

Timaru Oil owned by French Polynesian investors applied for resource consent through the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to build four fuel storage tanks next to Whareroa Marae, adjacent homes, and the local kōhanga reo.

Representatives of the marae appeared before the independent Environmental Commissioner Gina Sweetman late last year and presented written and verbal submissions outlining health and safety concerns for their community.

Timaru Oil was granted 15 days to appeal but the environmental commissioner was not satisfied in granting consent with "an overheight tank farm adjacent to and visible from an existing established sensitive area".

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is yet to respond to requests for comment however Whareroa Marae's Environmental Manager Joel Ngatuere says they are celebrating the decision.

"We can never be fully confident about what the interests are of a big corporation like Timaru Oil. But what we can say to Timaru Oil is that 'we hope you've heard the voice of tangata whenua, heard the voice of the Mount Maunganui community and Tauranga city, and heard the voice of Aotearoa'."

Ngatuere says the message is clear, "We do not want this sort of practice from businesses where the value of profit and your bottom lines supersedes the value of human life."