Before a Board of Inquiry Ruakura Development Plan Change

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1 Before a Board of Inquiry Ruakura Development Plan Change IN THE MATTER of the Resource Management Act 1991 AND IN THE MATTER of a Board of Inquiry appointed under section 149J of the Resource Management Act 1991 to consider a Plan Change Requested by Tainui Group Holdings Limited and Chedworth Properties Limited Statement of Evidence in Chief of David Charles Slaven on behalf of Tainui Group Holdings Ltd and Chedworth Properties Ltd 26 February 2014

2 1.0 SUMMARY 1.1 In 2011 an Environmental Framework was developed to ensure that the green infrastructure of the Ruakura Structure Plan was integrated into a cohesive network to support the proposed development, mitigate effects of land activities, enhance ecological values and provide a unique sense of space. The framework was centred on a north-south open space connection of 50ha that unified reserve areas for infrastructure, ecology and visual mitigation. 1.2 The framework was an aspirational document which successfully informed the design process and the ICMP to ensure ecologically favourable outcomes to the fullest extent practicable. A greenway provides a continuous band of open space which will incorporate large areas of native (and some exotic) plantings, recreational open space and stormwater infrastructure (including linear wetland swales up to 30m wide and wetlands). It will be the largest area of habitat in the local area, and when seen in the wider context it will provide connectivity with the adjacent Kirikiriroa Stream gully, Mangaonua Stream gully and Waikato River to form a continuous ring of habitat through Hamilton City. 1.3 Establishment of the greenway will provide mitigation for the loss of habitat (principally freshwater) that is associated with the Ruakura Plan Change (and wider Structure Plan) Area. The majority of this freshwater habitat is in the form of channelised farm drains (with 10.7km being within the Plan Change Area). There is little riparian vegetation for most of these drains, other than grazed or sprayed grass to the water s edge. Water quality and overall ecological values of these drains is generally low, as a result of ongoing inputs of turbidity, suspended sediment, faecal bacteria (from livestock and waterfowl) and nutrients. These result in low clarity, frequent algal blooms and water unsuitable for human contact or livestock consumption, and provide harsh conditions suitable for only the most tolerant aquatic organisms. 1

3 1.4 While eventually a total of 10.7km of farm drains will be lost within the Plan Change Area, it is proposed to replace these with 15.8km of linear wetland swales, plus additional habitat in the form of stormwater treatment wetlands. These will be located both within the Ruakura greenway and alongside the collector and arterial roads. I consider that the swales will provide much improved habitat for freshwater communities than that which presently exists on site. 1.5 It is envisaged that the final detailed design of these linear wetlands will be progressed closer to the time of lodging the first resource consent applications to Council, and will be developed using best practice. It is envisaged that conditions requiring the preparation of management plans will be associated with the future resource consents for works (such as earthworks and stream works). These will provide the mechanism for developing the detailed design for these wetlands. 1.6 Five native fish species have been recorded at Ruakura, including within the Plan Change Area. Of these, three are At Risk (black mudfish, giant kokopu and longfin eel), together with shortfin eel and banded kokopu. The Ruakura waterways support permanent populations of shortfin eel, longfin eel and black mudfish. The Plan Change (and wider) Area also supports a resident population of copper skink. It is envisaged that detailed management plans (as conditions of future resource consents) will guide the management of all resident native fauna on site, including capture, holding and release (translocation) methodologies as well as subsequent monitoring protocols and adaptive management responses if needed. 1.7 Given the above, in my opinion any adverse ecological effects associated with the Plan Change will be temporary, localised and of less than minor significance, and in the longer term will result in habitats (both terrestrial and freshwater) far superior to those of the present day. 2

4 2.0 QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERTISE 2.1 My full name is David Charles Slaven. I am a Director of the environmental consulting company Boffa Miskell Ltd (BML). I hold the qualifications of Master of Arts (Honours) and Master of Science (Honours) from Auckland University. I have been a professional ecologist for the past twenty five years. 2.2 I currently head the Ecology Section of the Auckland office of BML. Previously, I have worked for the World Wide Fund for Nature NZ (Manager Conservation Science), the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Senior Planner), Ecology Specialist Services (Director), the Department of Conservation (Flora Conservation Officer) and the Auckland Regional Authority (Ecologist). 2.3 My specialist skills lie in terrestrial biodiversity. Additionally, I have much experience in freshwater ecology, ecological restoration and mitigation of effects. I have undertaken numerous ecological investigations in native bush, wetlands and streams have prepared numerous assessments of the ecological effects of major projects, such as the Northern Gateway Toll Road, The Western Ring Route Waterview Connection and the Drury South Business Park Plan Change. 3.0 CODE OF CONDUCT 3.1 I have read the Code of Conduct for Expert Witnesses in the Environment Court Practice Note I agree to comply with this Code. The evidence in my statement is within my area of expertise, except where I state that I am relying on the evidence of another person. I have not omitted to consider material facts known to me that might alter or detract from the opinions I express. 4.0 PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF EVIDENCE 4.1 Specifically, I propose in my evidence to discuss the following: 3

5 My involvement in the proceedings; Methods; Key Findings from Reports and Subsequent Surveys; Relationship with the Plan Change; Overall Assessment of Ecological Effects; Response to Issues in Submissions; and Conclusions. 5.0 INVOLVEMENT IN THE PROCEEDINGS 5.1 My involvement in the proceedings has been as the project s Ecology Team Leader. I have visited the Ruakura Plan Change Area (see Figure 1) on three occasions. I have been actively involved in the terrestrial investigations (vegetation, birds, bats and lizards) and have assisted in the freshwater investigations. The actual freshwater investigations were undertaken by Ms Louise Clark (Associate Principal Boffa Miskell) and Boffa Miskell field technicians, with oversight from myself and Mr Eddie Sides (Principal Boffa Miskell). 5.2 I have reviewed the three ecological reports that have been prepared for the project to date, being as follows: Boffa Miskell (2010) Ruakura Lands Stream Ecological Valuation (SEV) and Fish survey Report. Boffa Miskell (2013) Ruakura Structure Plan Area Assessment of Ecological Values to Inform an Integrated Catchment Management Plan. Boffa Miskell (2014) Ruakura Structure Plan Area Assessment of Effects of Development on Native Fish Populations. 5.3 These reports were prepared for the Ruakura Structure Plan Area. My evidence summarises the findings and notes those aspects relevant to the area defined by the Plan Change boundaries. 4

6 5.4 In the preparation of my evidence I have additionally read in draft other expert briefs of evidence that are pertinent to ecology. These have included the evidence of Mr Nigel Tse (ICMP and Stormwater), Mr Andrew Harrison (Biosecurity), Mr John Goodwin (Landscape) and Ms Rachel de Lambert (Urban Design). I have also read a number of reports and documents of relevance to ecology at the Plan Change Area. These are listed in Appendix 1 to my evidence. 6.0 METHODOLOGY Freshwater 6.1 Mr Sides and I planned the original freshwater investigations in 2010, and I oversaw, reviewed and approved the subsequent Stream Ecological Valuation and Fish Survey report. Mr Sides and I have reviewed the 2013 Boffa Miskell Assessment of Ecological Values report, and oversaw the 2013 Boffa Miskell second fish survey (written up in the 2014 report) which specifically addressed the distribution of black mudfish, using the most recent mud fish survey protocols 1. The waterways that were surveyed in 2010 and 2013 are shown in Figure In the 2010 fish survey 80 box traps were deployed over eight sites (10 per site) on seven waterways, one fyke net was set and electric fishing was undertaken. The distance of waterway surveyed was 1km. In the 2013 fish survey 102 Gee-minnow traps were deployed on nine waterways, with the total distance surveyed in excess of 4km. In addition nocturnal spot lighting was undertaken over almost 3km on six waterways. Figure 3 demarcates the extents of the 2013 fish surveys, although it is noted that the 2010 survey sampled the same general reaches. Boffa Miskell freshwater ecologists undertook the fieldwork in both of the stream surveys. 1 Ling, N.; O Brien, L.K.; Miller, R.; Lake, M. (2009): Methodology to Survey and Monitor NZ Mudfish Species. CBR Contract Report 104. DOC & University of Waikato, Hamilton. 60 p. 5

7 6.3 Stream Ecological Valuation (SEV) is a comprehensive method for quantifying the value of aquatic ecosystems, assessing 16 ecological functions of streams in four categories (Table 1). Each function is weighted equally with the resultant SEV score being the mean function score (i.e. the sum of all function scores divided by 16). Although the drains at Ruakura are artificial waterways, SEV analyses were undertaken in 2010 to assist in assessing their aquatic values. 6.4 As part of the 2013 investigations, water samples were taken at eight sites and sediment samples were taken from the channel bed at seven sites within the Ruakura waterways. The samples were sent to Hill Laboratories under chain of custody documentation for analysis for a range of contaminants. Records from Waikato Regional Council for two water quality monitoring sites located on receiving waterways for the period January 2008 to December 2012 were also analysed. The location of these sampling sites is shown in Figure 2. Lizards 6.5 Native skinks were surveyed by way of manual hand-searches of carefully targeted potential shelters. A total of ten person hours were used, with likely shelters that were searched including the ample quantity of farm debris (including piles of corrugated iron, old machinery, wood piles, discarded plastic silage wrap and vegetation such as boxthorn hedgerows, rank grass and the base of pampas grass. Vegetation 6.6 Vegetation within the Plan Change Area was surveyed to determine whether any indigenous plant species were present. Surveyed vegetation included shelterbelts, riparian margins, amenity plantings and hedges. 6

8 Birds 6.7 Birds at Ruakura were surveyed by undertaking a literature search. This was supplemented by observations in the course of undertaking the freshwater, vegetation and skink surveys. Bats 6.8 All six of the native bat species are classified as either Threatened or At Risk. Hamilton is the only New Zealand city to retain populations of the native long-tailed bat. A comprehensive survey of long-tailed bats at 62 green space habitats in and around Hamilton, including Ruakura, was undertaken in No bat activity was recorded at Ruakura. A more recent study specific to the Ruakura area and environs 3 reported a single echolocation pulse indicative of a single individual transiting over the Ruakura Research Centre. 6.9 Eleven automated bat monitors (ABM s) were deployed by a Boffa Miskell ecologist within and around the Plan Change area (including at the Ruakura Research Centre). These were set to 40kHz to match long-tailed bat echolocation signals. The eleven bat detectors were set to record from 1 hour before dusk until 1 hour after dawn, and were deployed for a two week period in January Over the course of the survey three detectors developed problems and did not record data. 2 Le Roux, D.S. & Le Roux, N.N (2012) Hamilton City Bat Survey Kessels & Associates. 21 p. 3 McQuillan, G.R. (2013) Presence of Long-Tailed Bats Adjacent to Proposed Ruakura Industrial Development Areas. Environmental and Reporting paper,. Open Polytechnic of NZ. 18 p. 7

9 7.0 KEY FINDINGS FROM REPORTS AND SUBSEQUENT SURVEYS Freshwater 7.1 Surveys of waterways were carried out at Ruakura in 2010 and Most of the waterways are artificial farm drains, of which approximately one-quarter appear to be perennial. The drains are channelised with near uniform depth and low habitat diversity. They are excavated to maintain shallow groundwater drainage for the adjacent farmland. Most of the drains are fenced to exclude stock. 7.2 Only two waterways are perennial stream tributaries, and both of these are modified. One is a headwater tributary of the Mangaonua Stream, which has a largely artificial channel that has some natural reaches in the downstream third. The other is a headwater tributary of the Kirikiriroa Stream, which follows a natural but modified channel. Both of these discharge to culverts. 7.3 Riparian vegetation varies across the Plan Change area and typically consists of rank grass and weeds, grazed or sprayed grass or shelterbelt trees. Several waterways also have a moderate to dense cover of exotic trees, shrubs and vines (most exotic). There is no natural riparian vegetation present along the Plan Change area waterways. 7.4 In terms of water quality, ph is acidic (due to the peat soils), concentrations of iron are very high (and oxidation processes are likely to reduce the oxygen saturation of the water), zinc concentrations exceeds the ANZEC guidelines in places and elevated concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous together with high numbers of microbial pathogens are ubiquitous throughout the waterways, with the latter being at levels that preclude use of water for contact recreation or livestock watering. There are also ongoing inputs of sediment, resulting in high turbidity. Given that these drains discharge eventually into the Kirikiriroa and Mangaonua streams they are presently having an adverse effect on the water and habitat quality of those two major waterways. 8

10 Score Count Statement of Evidence of David Slaven 7.5 Aquatic macroinvertebrate biodiversity in the Ruakura waterways was low, with only 28 taxa found. Macroinvertebrate diversity ranged from only 7 to 13 taxa per sample (Graph 1), with the communities being dominated by Oligochaete worms and other species tolerant of adverse water and/or habitat quality. Only two EPT taxa 4 were detected. Graph 1. Number of macroinvertebrate taxa A 1B* MCI scores ranged from 65 to 99, which indicate poor to fair habitat quality (Graph 2). The SQMCI scores were more consistent, with almost all sites falling into the poor category (Graph 3). Graph 2. MCI score Fair Poor A 1B* Ephemoptera (mayflies), Plectoptera (stoneflies) and Trichoptera (caddisflies), being aquatic macroinvertebrates that are particularly sensitive to poor water quality and degraded habitat. 9

11 Score Statement of Evidence of David Slaven Graph 3. SQMCI score 1A 1B* Good Fair Poor 7.7 All in all the aquatic macroinvertebrate biometrics indicate poor water and habitat quality and harsh environmental conditions that would be tolerable only for hardy non-sensitive species. 7.8 SEV scores for most sites were low (Table 1). Scores ranged from 0.29 to 0.48, with most waterways scoring 0.38 or less. Scores below 0.4 are considered to be poor values where the waterways that are performing limited aquatic functions. Table 1. SEV summary table Category 1A 1B Hydraulic functions Biogeochemical functions Habitat provision functions Biodiversity functions SEV Score Fish diversity was low across all sites, and no fish were captured or observed at four locations during each survey. In 2010 only three species were found, being shortfin eels, giant kokopu and black mudfish. In 2013 only four species were captured or observed, namely shortfin eels, longfin eels, banded kokopu and black mudfish. Figure 4 summarises the results from both survey periods. The low fish diversity is expected given the naturally acidic and anoxic characteristics of the groundwater baseflow in the Ruakura waterways. 10

12 7.10 Of the species observed, giant kokopu, longfin eel and black mudfish are classified as At Risk, with the former two having a Threat Classification 5 of Declining and the latter of Relict The giant kokopu was found in the only waterway that provides suitable habitat for this species, namely the western headwater tributary of the Mangaonua Stream. One juvenile was captured during the 2010 survey. The species was not observed during the 2013 survey and there are no other records of the species at Ruakura. There are significant obstacles to fish passage between this tributary and the downstream habitat outside the Plan Change Area. I consider that the Plan Change area does not support a resident population of giant kokopu While there are several waterways that might provide suitable habitat for banded kokopu, this species was not captured during the 2010 survey, only one juvenile was captured during the 2013 survey and there are no other records of the species at Ruakura. I consider that the Plan Change Area does not support a resident population of banded kokopu Most of the waterways within the Plan Change Area are suitable only for black mudfish and eels due to their naturally low ph, lack of riparian cover and poor water quality. Shortfin and longfin eels are tolerant species capable of surviving in waterways with poor water and habitat quality but cannot persist in waterways that dry out. The 2010 and 2013 surveys indicate that eels are distributed across all of the perennial waterways at Ruakura except those with no connectivity to other waterways (such as the Tramway Road Drain) Black mudfish are also tolerant of poor water and habitat quality, and prefer soft-bottomed waterways that dry out periodically. The 2010 and 2013 surveys (and FFDB records) indicate that drains that dry out or have intermittent pools and are connected with the 5 Allibone, R.; David, B.; Hitchmough, R.; Jellyman, D.; Ling, N.; Ravenscroft, P.; Waters, J. (2010) Conservation Status of NZ Freshwater Fish. NZ Journal of Marine & Freshwater Research, 2010, 1-17, ifirst Article. 11

13 extensive Komakorau Stream drainage network to the east of the Ruakura Structure Plan area provide the necessary habitat for black mudfish (Figure 5), and all of the specimens observed to date within the Ruakura site would be a part of a larger population resident within this wider drainage network The indicative distribution of eels and black mudfish at Ruakura is shown in Figure 6. The distribution of these fish species is not static and will vary in response to factors such as rainfall frequency and volume, waterway maintenance activities and predation in the wider drainage network shown in Figure 5. Rainfall characteristics will determine whether a waterway retains water all year or dries up and its connectivity with adjacent waterways and the wider drainage network. The distribution of each fish species in relation to water levels, and of black mudfish in relation to the presence of eels, is expected to be variable both spatially and temporally In summary, the waterways within the Plan Change Area consist of artificial channelised drains and modified tributaries with no natural riparian vegetation and poor water quality. Their ecological values are low. However, the waterways provide habitat for resident populations of two At Risk species (black mudfish and longfin eel) and one non-threatened species (shortfin eel) Native fish are protected under the provisions of the Wildlife Act 1953 and the Freshwater Fisheries Regulations The management of waterways and fish is discussed in section 8 of my evidence (Relationship with the Plan Change). Vegetation 7.18 Vegetation at Ruakura consists mainly of pasture and crops. Most of the tall vegetation consists of shelter belts and amenity trees. Some of the tall vegetation provides riparian cover to the waterways. Within the Plan Change Area indigenous vegetation mainly consists of individual specimens in riparian margins among 12

14 exotic vegetation. Their removal does not constitute an adverse ecological effect in itself, nor in relation to any riparian benefits provided to waterways given that the drains will be removed. Lizards 7.19 Skinks are ground dwelling lizards, and a total of ten person-hours was spent searching for them (i.e. two herpetologists searching for five hours each. Geckos are generally tree-dwelling lizards but were not searched for given the species of tree present on the site (with all being unsuitable as habitat) The New Zealand Herpetofauna Database has no records for lizards within Ruakura. However, as shown in Table 3, in the wider area in and around Hamilton introduced frogs and rainbow skinks have been recorded, and the native copper skink has been recorded in Hamilton, west of the Waikato River. Table 3 - Herpetofauna recorded within 10km of Ruakura Structure Plan Area Latin name Common name Threat Status (Hitchmough et al. 2010) No. records Closest record Lampropholis delicata Rainbow skink Introduced 4 3km Litoria aurea Green tree frog Introduced 1 8km Litoria raniformis Golden bell frog Introduced 1 7km Litoria sp. Unidentified frog Introduced 6 1km Oligosoma aeneaum Copper skink Protected, not threatened 2 5km 7.21 Our surveys confirmed the presence of the introduced rainbow skink as well as the native copper skink within the Plan Change Area, with a total of 12 individuals being observed. The copper skink is classified as Not Threatened. However, all native lizards are protected under the Wildlife Act and it is an offence to cause harm to them The majority of copper skinks were found in debris piles around farm buildings (both organic such as wood piles and inorganic such as corrugated iron). They were widespread over the Plan Change Area insofar that where there was suitable habitat their presence 13

15 was reasonably likely. However, suitable habitat was generally restricted to specific points, with movement between these likely to be along the existing wildlife corridors in the form of hedge rows and shelterbelts. Hence, while I am confident in saying there is likely to be a sizeable resident population of copper skink on site the resident groups would be generally restricted to specific point locations All native lizards are protected under the provisions of the Wildlife Act I consider that more detailed surveys will be needed for future resource consent applications to inform capture and translocation activities prior to land development commencing. The management of lizards is discussed in section 8 of my evidence (Mitigation of Adverse Effects). Bats 7.24 No bats were detected over the two week period that the ABM s were deployed at Ruakura. A single echolocation pulse was recorded in an earlier study (McQuillan, 2013). I consider that the Plan Change Area is unlikely to provide an important habitat to long tailed bats. Avifauna 7.25 The Ornithological Society records 25 native and 16 introduced species of birds that occur in and around Hamilton (Appendix 2). Most of these species occupy open habitats and pasture. Vegetation within the Plan Change Area is dominated by open grazed pasture with hedges and shelter belts. This habitat is suitable mainly for introduced bird species Native species observed within the Plan Change Area included pukeko, Australasian harrier, kingfisher, welcome swallow and spurwinger plover, of which none are At Risk or Threatened species. Introduced species include blackbird, house sparrow, mynah, starling, magpie and chaffinch. 14

16 7.27 The role that the proposed Ruakura greenway will play in replacing the existing habitat for birds is described in section 8 of my evidence (Relationship with the Plan Change). Summary 7.28 The terrestrial ecological values of the Plan Change Area are not significant. While a resident population of copper skink is present, this is a commonly found widespread species that is not At Risk or Threatened, and there now are well established protocols for the management of this species (discussed in section 8 7) The Ruakura waterways have poor water quality and low ecological values. However, they do provide habitat for two At Risk and one non-threatened native fish species. Methods for the management of these species are also discussed in section In finishing this section, it is noteworthy that the wider Ruakura Structure Plan Area was recently surveyed by the Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology Research (CERB Waikato University) as part of an ecological inventory for HCC 6. Their study concluded that there were no key ecological sites within the area, 8.0 RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PLAN CHANGE 8.1 The potential adverse ecological effects associated with the Plan Change are restricted to freshwater, birds and lizards. The Plan Change will result in the removal of 10.7km of existing waterways (predominantly drains) which provide habitat for two At Risk (black mudfish and longfin eel) and one non-threatened (shortfin eel) species. The Plan Change will also result in the removal of open space habitat, the removal of exotic trees for birds and the loss of localised habitat for copper skink. These effects cannot be avoided since retaining these habitats is not compatible with the proposed development and intended urbanisation of the land. However, I 6 Cornes,Tt.; Thomson, R. (2011). Key Ecological Sites of Hamilton City Ruakura Extension. CBER, Waikato University. 15

17 consider these adverse effects can be appropriately managed to produce a net environmental gain. I discuss the means by which this can be achieved below. 8.2 The Plan Change includes provisions specifically designed to avoid adverse effects on ecology. Where this may not be possible, Plan Change provisions ensure net ecological benefits despite the adverse effect. It achieves the latter primarily by way of the Ruakura greenway. This greenway is an integral component of the Ruakura Estate Environmental Framework, prepared in 2011 (see Figure 7). This Framework was an aspirational document which successfully informed both the design process and the ICMP to ensure ecologically favourable outcomes. 8.3 The greenway is a 50ha corridor of open space that extends along the length of the Structure Plan area at a width of some 50m. This area will incorporate large areas of native (and some exotic) plantings, recreational open space and stormwater infrastructure (including swales and wetlands). It will also provide connectivity with the adjacent Kirikiriroa Stream gully, Mangaonua Stream gully and Waikato River to form a continuous ring of habitat through Hamilton City (Figure 8). 8.4 The greenway will contain most of the non-piped stormwater infrastructure, consisting of linear wetland swales (termed swales hereafter), storage basins and treatment wetlands. The swales will not be of the typical grassed and dished shape, but rather they will be planted with indigenous wetland and riparian species, and within the greenway will be up to 30m in width. The invert levels of the swale channels can be designed to re-establish perennial and ephemeral waterways equivalent to the hydrological regime of the existing habitat. The swales can also be designed with more natural channels than the existing drains, including meanders and intermittent deeper areas. The conceptual design of the stormwater network is based on the same connectivity with downstream waterways that exists currently. 16

18 8.5 Within the Plan Change area approximately 10.7km of farm drains with poor habitat and water quality will be removed and replaced with approximately 15.8km of swales. In my opinion the swales will provide at least equivalent, and likely superior, habitat to the existing drains. The improved habitat values will be as a result of less habitat disturbance from waterway maintenance, more natural channel morphology, dense indigenous riparian vegetation and improved water quality. 8.6 It is anticipated that the stormwater infrastructure will be constructed early in each of the development stages. As a result, the swales will provide habitat into which native fish can be translocated prior to their existing habitat being removed. As noted in the 2014 fish survey report, the preparation of a management plan is recommended to direct the following activities: fish capture and translocation or storage; if translocations to existing habitats is proposed, the locations and conditions for release; if storage is proposed pending release into new swales, the locations and responsibility for storage; criteria to guide the re-establishment of native fish into new swale habitats; monitoring to determine the survival of re-established and/or translocated populations; and processes for adaptive management to occur as a result of monitoring. It is anticipated that the detailed design of the swales will be based on current best practice, supplemented by advice sought from other organisations with expertise in the ecology of black mudfish where needed. 17

19 8.7 In relation to the above, I am aware of two recent mudfish translocations and two recent storage operations. The first was a translocation of 235 fry and approximately 45 adults translocated from the Whangamarino wetland to Lake Kaituna in the Waikato. The adults were tagged and released, together with an unspecified number of juveniles. The second involved the translocation of approximately a dozen black mudfish (together with longfin and shortfin eels) within the Rotokauri catchment in 2012 (carried out by Mrs Louise Clark from Boffa Miskell). 8.8 The examples of storage I am aware of involve Waikato University storing black mudfish on two occasions. The first was in relation to the translocation to Lake Kaituna noted above, with juveniles being held until they were large enough for the release. The second is presently on-going, with the University holding around 400 mudfish from the Rangirii Bypass project in outdoor cattle troughs. The latter has not been without incident, with some mortalities as a result of unusually high summer water temperatures in the outdoor troughs. Despite this setback valuable lessons are being learned. 8.9 I am also aware of several translocations involving longfin and shortfin eel. I have been personally involved in many of these over the course of the many motorway projects I have worked on. Some of the eel translocations in Auckland have involved extremely high numbers of individuals for example, in a 200m stretch of Oakley Creek that was being diverted and needed to be de-fished first, in excess of 1,000 individuals were captured and relocated further downstream. Notwithstanding this, I emphasise that I do not expect anywhere near this number in the Ruakura waterways I give these examples to provide the Board of Inquiry with the knowledge that fish translocations are an established practice to preserve fish populations. I am confident that the translocations proposed for the Ruakura Plan Change Area will be successful if well managed, particularly given that the species to be translocated are amongst the hardiest of our native species. 18

20 8.11 In addition to providing better habitat for native fish, the greenway will also provide suitable habitat for the indigenous fauna presently utilising the site, such as copper skink. I consider that the greenway plantings will provide sufficient suitable habitat for this species, which tends to prefer habitat edges for shelter and foraging In relation to this, it is recognised that the greenway plantings will take time to establish. In the interim period it should be possible to translocate all copper skinks from within a particular development stage to existing suitable habitat within the wider Ruakura Structure Plan Area. As development stages progress the greenway plantings will grow and become available as the ultimate destination for the on-going lizard translocations With regards to birds, by changing from pastoral to urban land use, there are potential effects to native and introduced birds from displacement and habitat loss. I consider that the bird species present at Ruakura are likely to continue to occupy the site if provision is made for appropriate habitat in Open Space areas. Some native forest birds may also use the site if larger areas of native plantings are provided, as is proposed via the greenway The greenway will deliver multiple benefits beyond biodiversity. It will also provide open space for urban amenity, recreational space, space for flood attenuation and other such purposes. The detailed design will incorporate all these factors and vegetation patterns will be designed to meet these (and ecological) needs. For this reason, it is impractical for the entire area to be forested in native plants. 9.0 OVERALL ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS ASSESSMENT Introduction 9.1 Given the mitigation proposals described in the preceding section of my evidence, this present section assesses the effects of the Plan Change activities on the ecological values that are present on-site taking into account those mitigation strategies. 19

21 Freshwater 9.2 As described in section 7, the Ruakura waterways consist of artificial channelised drains and two modified tributaries with no natural riparian vegetation. The water and habitat quality of these drains is generally low, but they do support resident populations of longfin eel, shortfin eel and black mudfish. The design of the stormwater infrastructure for the Plan Change Area, particularly the swales, can take account of the habitat requirements for these species. A management plan to manage the translocation of fish between existing waterways and the new swales will ensure that the benefits of the improved habitat can be realised. This was discussed in section 8 of my evidence. 9.3 The effects of land development and stormwater discharge on the water quality of the Mangaouna and Kirikiriroa Stream tributaries are likely to be positive, as a result of the provisions of the ICMP. Currently water quality is impacted by nutrients, metals and faecal bacteria. The lack of riparian cover and baseflow from anoxic shallow groundwater with low ph contributes to low dissolved oxygen concentrations and high summer water temperatures. 9.4 The change in land use from agriculture to urban land uses will contribute to a reduction in the concentration of nutrients, sediment and faecal bacteria that are discharged into the swale waterways. The ph and concentration of iron are not expected to change substantially as these are natural variables in the Ruakura context. Summer temperatures are expected to be reduced as a result of dense riparian vegetation over the swales. 9.5 In addition to the at source treatments outlined in the ICMP, the proposed swale and wetland treatment will help reduce the concentration of metals to below the thresholds for harm to aquatic life. It is expected that the water quality of the stormwater discharges from the Plan Change area post-development will be better than that currently being discharged, and will contribute to an overall improvement in water quality. 20

22 9.6 In relation to the freshwater effects associated with the Ruakura development, Table 4 provides criteria for describing the magnitude of the potential effects that may occur as a result of the land development and stormwater discharges. Table 4: Effects Magnitude Decision Matrix (modified from Regini 2002) MAGNITUDE Very High High Medium Low Negligible DESCRIPTION Total loss or very major alteration to key elements/ features of the baseline conditions such that the post development character/ composition/ attributes will be fundamentally changed and may be lost from the site altogether. Major loss or major alteration to key elements/ features of the baseline (pre-development) conditions such that post development character/ composition/ attributes will be fundamentally changed. Loss or alteration to one or more key elements/features of the baseline conditions such that post development character/composition/attributes of baseline will be partially changed. Minor shift away from baseline conditions. Change arising from the loss/alteration will be discernible but underlying character/composition/attributes of baseline condition will be similar to pre-development circumstances/patterns. Very slight change from baseline condition. Change barely distinguishable, approximating to the no change situation. 9.7 Using table 4, the effect magnitude of the waterway removal is very high due to the total loss of the drain and modified tributary features. Table 5 then provides a matrix for establishing the significance of the effect on ecological values that may result from the activities. Table 5: Significance of Effect Matrix (modified from Regini 2002) SIGNIFICANCE ECOLOGICAL AND / OR CONSERVATION VALUE Very High High Medium Low Very High Very High Very High Medium Low MAGNITUDE High Very High Very High Medium Low Medium Very High High Low Very Low Low Medium Medium Low Very low Negligible Low Low Very Low Very Low 21

23 9.8 The effect of waterway removal is very high but the ecological value of the drains and modified tributaries within the Structure Plan Area is low and medium respectively. Therefore the significance of ecological effects is low (for drains) and medium (for tributaries), representing a potentially significant impact with regard to the removal of the tributaries. However, these waterways are being replaced by 15.8km of swale habitat planted with indigenous riparian and wetland species that will provide enhanced aquatic habitat compared to that removed. Therefore, I consider the potential effect of drain and tributary removal is adequately mitigated. As a result the magnitude of this change is Negligible and the significance of this effect is Low. 9.9 In addition to my evidence above, I note that management of water quality and quantity is detailed in the ICMP, and addressed in the evidence of Mr Tse. I concur with the conclusions reached in both the ICMP and the evidence of Mr Tse that generally accepted best practice options (BPO) can be achieved within the Plan Change area and that as a result water quality and quantity can be sufficiently well managed so as to avoid any significant adverse effects on the local freshwater communities. Lizards 9.10 A population of native copper skink is resident at Ruakura. There is the potential to provide for skink habitat within the greenway vegetation and swales. While skinks do not occupy areas that are wet, these swales will include a buffer of riparian vegetation that would be suitable skink habitat. Riparian habitat presently provides part of the habitat that they are occupying at Ruakura Provided skink habitat is allowed for in the design of the planting throughout the greenway, then I consider that the existing corridors and habitats at Ruakura will be effectively replaced and effects on the resident populations of copper skink will be mitigated. 22

24 Avifauna 9.12 While all of the land within the Plan Change Area will be taken out of its present land cover of pasture, excluding native waterfowl this will only affect introduced bird species since they are the predominant group presently utilising the site. The land does not represent a significant resource for native non-waterfowl, and any visitation would be for foraging purposes for those few native species that favour open pasture landscapes. As a result I consider that the Plan Change will have negligible effects on native nonwaterfowl With regard to native waterfowl (predominantly pukeko), these species would utilise the farm drains and pasture grass for foraging purposes, and probably some of the fenced shelterbelts and hedgerows for nesting purposes also (providing sufficient cover in the form of rank grassland and the like were present). These same opportunities will still be available to them following development of the Plan Change Area, in the form of the swales (providing a great deal more potential nesting habitat than is presently the case) and the Open Space areas. In addition, ample farmland will still exist around Ruakura for waterfowl to continue their land-based foraging In addition to the above, while 87% of the land within the Plan Change Area is zoned for a range of logistics, industrial, commercial, residential and other similar types of activities, the main collector and arterial roads will include wide tree-clad berms which, in time, will also provide resources for native birds. All in all while there may be some short term and localised effects on birds I consider that in the medium to long term the land use change will enhance the present-day opportunities here for native avifauna. Vegetation 9.15 I consider that the loss of vegetation associated with the Plan Change does not represent an adverse effect of any magnitude (i.e. it is less than minor). Additionally, the creation of 15.8ha of 23

25 vegetated linear wetland swales will greatly enhance the botanical biodiversity of the area, and can only be viewed as a significant ecological benefit associated with the Plan Change RESPONSE TO ISUES RAISED IN SUBMISSIONS 10.1 The submission of Mr Gerry Kessels requested surveys to be undertaken to establish the importance or otherwise of the Plan Change Area to long tailed bats, together with a request for further information on the design of the swales. In addressing the submission of Mr Kessels, I note that my team and I met with the submitter on 4 th February 2014 to discuss his concerns. At that meeting we were able to confirm that bat surveys had been undertaken since the lodgement of the Plan Change, and that the results demonstrated the area was not important to bats. At that meeting Mr Mike Chapman from Harrison & Grierson (co-author of the ICMP) was able to discuss his concerns regarding the swales, and Mrs Louise Clark discussed his queries relating to the freshwater The submission from Waikato Regional Council requests that conditions are made favourable so that bats can move further up the Mangaonua Stream gully, and that bat habitat be provided within the Plan Change Area. I can confirm that both native and exotic trees will be used within the species palette for the plantings within the Plan Change Area. However, lights emanating from the future streets, buildings and yards of the Area may preclude bat activity here (given the strong correlation between bright lights and non-appearances of bat as reported in Le Roux & Le Roux (2012) following the Hamilton Citywide bat survey of ) Both the submissions of Mr Ryan and the Centre for Redefining Progress cite concerns with effects on wildlife, including birds. As I have described earlier in my evidence, the bird life within the Plan Change Area is unremarkable and dominated by introduced species, and while copper skink are present on site this species will 24

26 be managed by way of capture and translocation programme. This is a commonly accepted means of dealing with this issue and to my knowledge has been successful when carried out in accordance with the accepted protocols In relation to the submission from the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) of Waikato University, the Silverdale Residents Group, Dr Davies-Colley, Mr Manoharan and Mr Lauren, I note that the Plan Change already provides for a nominal 50m wide greenway totalling 50ha in area, of which a substantial proportion will be in a cover of native wetlands and riparian margins together with copses of street and amenity trees (and a mix of both native and exotic). Given the location of the greenway (within Hamilton City), I am not convinced that sufficient additional ecological benefits would accrue (as a result of a doubling of the width of the greenway) to compensate for the loss of an additional 50ha of land presently earmarked for future growth and employment. The native birds that would benefit are few in number, bats are unlikely to utilise a heavily lit area, freshwater and lizard communities will be adequately provided for and the botanical biodiversity is already proposed to be increased Furthermore, a m wide ecological corridor would require additional land to be vested as Open Space to accommodate the envisaged recreational opportunities and the cycleways and pathways proposed, losing even more space otherwise available to realise the planning intent for the R1 Area Notwithstanding this, I am aware that in Section 6A (Development Principles) of the Regional Policy Statement, clause (h) promotes and encourages ecological outcomes including ecological corridors, as follows: (h) promote positive indigenous biodiversity outcomes and protect significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous fauna. Development which can enhance ecological 25

27 integrity, such as by improving the maintenance, enhancement or development of ecological corridors, should be encouraged In my opinion the greenway in its proposed form is consistent with this BOARD MINUTE AND DIRECTION On February 3 rd 2014 the Board circulated a Minute and Direction which included matters that it wished to be addressed in evidence. Several of these matters related to ecology, and I respond to these in this section of my evidence Item 8 directs a discussion on the relationship between stormwater and ecological effects on the gully systems and the Waikato River. While stormwater quality is addressed in the ICMP and the evidence of Mr Tse, I have touched on this in paragraphs 7.4 and of my evidence, with my conclusion being water quality will improve as a result of the ICMP. The connectivity of the gully systems will also be strengthened by the greenway, as discussed in section 8 of my evidence Item 10 directs a discussion on the effects of the proposal on mudfish, giant kokopu and long-tailed bats. I have discussed the two fish in question in section 6.11 (giant kokopu) and sections and (black mudfish) of my evidence. I have discussed long-tailed bats in sections 7.24 and 10.2 of my evidence CONCLUSION 12.1 The terrestrial ecological values associated with the Plan Change Area are not high, with little native vegetation being present, the avifauna community dominated by abundant introduced species and the native bird fauna all being common species, and with the 26

28 lizard community restricted to the common and widespread copper skink The freshwater ecological value of the Plan Change Area is higher due to the presence of resident populations of native fish species, of which two are At Risk. A total of 10.7km of existing drain and modified stream habitat will be replaced with 15.8km of wetland swales, which will deliver functionally enhanced habitats and provide the basis for an improvement to the local biodiversity of the area and greater Hamilton While there will be loss of habitats (both terrestrial and aquatic) as a result of the Plan Change these are not of high quality. I do not consider that the loss of these habitats is a significant adverse ecological effect provided species translocation programmes are instigated following the granting of the future resource consents that will be required for the developments to proceed (such as earthworks and subdivision consents). David Charles Slaven ( ) 27

29 APPENDIX 1 Additional Reports Reviewed Boffa Miskell (2010) Ruakura Lands Stream Ecological Valuation (SEV) and Fish survey Report. Prepared for Tainui Group Holdings and Chedworth Park Ltd. Boffa Miskell (2011) Ruakura Estate Environmental Framework. Prepared for Tainui Group Holdings and Chedworth Park Ltd. Boffa Miskell (2013) Ruakura Structure Plan Area Assessment of Ecological Values to Inform an Integrated Catchment Management Plan. Prepared for Tainui Group Holdings and Chedworth Park Ltd. Boffa Miskell (2014) Ruakura Structure Plan Area Assessment of Effects of Development on Native Fish Populations. Prepared for Tainui Group Holdings and Chedworth Park Ltd. Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology research (University of Waikato) (2011) Key Ecological Sites of Hamilton City: Ruakura Extension. Prepared for HCC. Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology research (University of Waikato) (2012) Key Ecological Sites of Hamilton City. Prepared for HCC. Clarkson, B., K. Thompson, L. Shipper & M. McLead (1999) Moanatuatua Bog Proposed Restoration of a NZ Restiad Peat Bog Ecosystem. In W. Streever (ed): An International Perspective on Wetland Rehabilitation. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Clarkson, B. & J. McQueen (2004) Ecological Restoration in Hamilton City, North Island, NZ. 16 th International Conference, Society for Ecological Restoration, August 24-26, 2004, Victoria, Canada. Hamilton City Council (2006) Gully Restoration Guide: A Guide to Assist in the Ecological Restoration of Hamilton s Gully Systems. HCC. 28

30 Harrison & Grierson (2013) Draft Integrated Catchment Management Plan: Ruakura Growth Cell (R1) Headwaters of Kirikiriroa, Mangaounua and Komakorau Streams. Prepared for HCC. Hicks, B. & R. Barrier (1996) Habitat Requirements of Black Mudfish in the Waikato Region, North Island, NZ. NZ Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research. Vol 30: Le Roux, D. & N. Le Roux (2012). Hamilton City Bat Survey Kessels & Associates. Ling, N (2001) NZ Mudfishes: A Guide. DOC and University of Waikato. McQuillan, G. (2013) Presence of Long-Tailed Bats Adjacent to Proposed Ruakura Industrial Development Areas. Report for Open Polytech of NZ, Environmental Monitoring & Reporting paper. Opus (2013) Waikato Expressway: Hamilton Section Assessment of Environmental Effects: Terrestrial And Aquatic Ecology. Prepared for NZTA. 29

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