1 Jul 2015

Rocket site plan for Canterbury coast

7:41 am on 1 July 2015

An Auckland-based rocket company is tipped to announce its plans tomorrow to build a rocket launch facility on a piece of Canterbury coastline.

Kaitōrete Spit

Kaitōrete Spit Photo: SUPPLIED / Google

Rocket Lab has applied for consents with the Canterbury Regional Council to build a launch complex on Bayleys Rd, Kaitorete Spit, near the township of Birdlings Flat.

The spit separates Lake Ellesmere and the Pacific Ocean. Parts are classified as conservation areas by the Department of Conservation and are of archaeological and cultural importance, especially to Ngai Tahu.

Green Party MP Eugenie Sage was concerned that the consents would be granted without proper assessment of the environmental effects of the facility, and without public notification.

The three consents with the regional council were lodged on 15 June and are currently being assessed.

One of them is to discharge stormwater onto the land. It also relates to erosion during construction of the launch complex.

Another is for a permit to occupy the coastal marine area, and the third is to discharge contaminants into the air when testing fuel burning engines.

Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck.

Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck. Photo: Rocket Lab

Christchurch City Council confirmed it was working with Rocket Lab for the purpose of obtaining resource and building consent.

An application had not yet been lodged but the council said Rocket Lab had been developing the required ecological, cultural and archaeological reports, and risk mitigation plans, including fire management.

The application would be independently reviewed and determined by a planning commissioner, but it was not known when that would happen.

The Rocket Lab website includes a video which outlines the company's mission to get satellites into space or, as Rocket Lab puts it: "Opening space up for business".

The website said the facility would be able to launch 100 times a year at a cost of $US4.9m, which the company's chief executive Peter Beck said was much cheaper than the average $US130m launch cost.

In the video, Mr Beck lists some of the things made possible by satellite launching, including better weather predictions, crop monitoring, live streaming anywhere and even natural disaster warnings.

It was understood that the Prime Minister would attend tomorrow's launch but a spokesperson for John Key was unable to confirm this on Tuesday.

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