West Coast ratepayers pick up dodgy dumpers' tab

5:50 pm on 8 September 2020

An allegation of dodgy dumping was the most common environmental complaint fielded by the West Coast Regional Council last month.

A stack of tires on an old garbage dump. Old worn out tires piled up. Season of the autumn.

Photo: 123RF

The compliance team investigated 14 complaints and incidents in August - six of them involving people dumping or leaving waste without consent.

The council had to pay a contractor to remove rubbish dumped off the edge of the Coast Road, but found no items that might identify the culprit.

Ratepayers will also be picking up the clean-up tab for whoever dumped 100 old tyres and part of a paling fence in a State highway layby at Jacksons. Nothing at the site gave away any clues about the offender.

A contractor who has been demolishing a building in Hokitika and trucking the rubbish to an old gravel pit at the airport may pay a penalty: some of the material was not cleanfill.

In a second Hokitika complaint, council staff found a person dumping glass and other rubbish in a clean fill operation, outside their consented areas; inquiries are ongoing.

The council is also investigating a complaint that wire fencing was dumped into a riverbed at Inangahua.

And a forest company that deposited slash in a creek at Humphreys Gully, in the Arahura Valley, was found to be on the wrong side of the National Environmental Standards for Forestry Plantation, but in a minor way. Council staff will be revisiting the site with the forester to inspect it.

In other August incidents: a black sand miner at Charleston has been reminded of his consent obligations after a complaint that he was stockpiling sand and damaging vegetation.

A complaint that gravel extraction near Hokitika could affect a whitebaiter's stand was not upheld; the contractor was found to be working to his consent conditions.

A complaint that a dairy farm could be polluting a creek at Cronadun was also dismissed; council staff found no evidence of discharges.

The council will not be taking action over a complaint from Granity, where two community groups take water for residential properties from the same creek. The complainant alleged one group was exceeding its consented take but staff who checked it out, found a restrictor had been placed on the intake pipe and the water take was compliant at the time of inspection.

The one and only complaint about a goldmine for the month will also be going nowhere. The operator was accused of pumping out a settling pond into a creek, but inspection revealed the miner was decanting treated water and was not in breach of his consent.

Four more complaints involved rivers.

A whitebaiter who unlawfully extended the bank of the Arawhata River has had his consent conditions for his whitebait stand explained to him; he has now removed the offending extension.

A man who extracted gravel from Landing Creek without consent was served with an infringement notice and told to remediate the site.

Another person who carried out some protection work in the bed of a river near Westport has been told to apply for a resource consent to authorise it. Inspection showed the work done was minor.

And at Punakaiki, council staff are still investigating a complaint that gravel extraction has changed the course of the river.

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