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Greater Wellington Regional Council seeks rubbish costs

Grace Prior

 

Almost a year after rubbish from a farm tip washed into the Tauherenikau River, Greater Wellington Regional Council is looking to recover the costs of its investigation into the incident.

Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] flood protection manager Graeme Campbell told the Wairarapa Committee last year that an old dump site had eroded into the river.

“We have had a number of pressures over the last three or four months which have caused a bit more activity in the rivers than we’ve had potentially for the last three or four years,” he said.

Campbell said the strong river flow had washed a lot of the loose dumped rubbish through the river.

Weeks later, rubbish could be seen hanging from trees lining the river banks.

Campbell said some of the rubbish had made its way down the river to South Wairarapa beaches.

GWRC general manager of environment management Al Cross said in September that the council had carried out a thorough investigation into reports of white plastic baleage in and along the Tauherenikau River.

After a significant period of rain, GWRC’s flood protection team pulled baleage materials from the river.

While the investigation was not conclusive in linking the baleage to one property, officers discovered a “farm dump” alongside the river, which had been partially washed out from erosion of the riverbank.

Campbell said because the “farm dump” did not comply with rules in the regional plan, an abatement notice was issued to the landowner.

“The notice required them to remove the material from the dump site and provide Greater Wellington with proof of lawful disposal. Greater Wellington is also seeking to recover the costs of our investigation.”

Campbell said rules for controlling the disposal of waste on properties were there to make sure the restrictions were understood and prevent rubbish from ending up in waterways.

He said the council would rather advise people of good practice and appropriate disposal than have to investigate or take enforcement action.

“We’d also like to acknowledge the help of Featherston community members involved in a clean-up of the riverbanks.”

Campbell said there were hidden risks to water-based work, and community members would not be invited to help with any future clean-up due to safety concerns.

“Further works may also be occurring, and the presence of heavy machinery adds another level of risk.

“Exposing members of the community to these risks would be unsafe and unprofessional.”

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