DCC to request faster action on providing rain radar

Dave Cull
Dave Cull
The Dunedin City Council has voted to lobby the MetService to accelerate plans for a rain radar covering the city, despite a last-minute assurance from Mayor Dave Cull.

Mr Cull told yesterday's full council meeting he had spoken to MetService chief executive Peter Lennox yesterday morning, and received an assurance the organisation was still ''extremely keen'' to advance the project.

The MetService had found a site within a forestry block which offered 90%-100% of everything needed for the perfect radar site, which was ''as good as it gets'' in New Zealand, Mr Cull said.

Unfortunately, the site had been sold three times since then, requiring negotiations with the new owners to start again each time, Mr Cull said.

Despite that, the MetService remained ''very keen'' on the project, Mr Cull said.

His comments came after Cr David Benson-Pope and Cr Aaron Hawkins put forward the motion, which called on the council to make ''urgent representations'' to the MetService or any other agency to progress the project.

Cr Benson-Pope said the absence of a radar covering Dunedin meant there was a ''significant gap'' in weather information, particularly when storm events threatened.

He wanted to see progress ''sooner rather than later'', and the council could potentially help by pushing for action.

Cr Kate Wilson said a weather radar would tick ''absolutely every strategy we have'' as a council, but it was not just about finding out if it was a good night for a barbecue.

A radar would provide useful information with significant benefits for industry as well, she said.

The MetService did not have the ability to use the Public Works Act to acquire the land it needed, but other agencies could use their own powers to acquire the site on the MetService's behalf, Cr Wilson suggested.

Councillors voted unanimously to endorse the motion and lobby for quicker action.

The vote came after the MetService last month confirmed a delay to the planned rollout of the facility, until May 2020, because its preferred site had been sold and further negotiations were needed.

The Otago Regional Council also discussed the delay last month, and noted the absence of a radar for Otago could affect public safety, as it was ''difficult to confirm whether some rivers had peaked'' during last month's flood.

Cr Hawkins, speaking last week, told the Otago Daily Times there was no doubt such a facility was needed, as significant weather events like last month's flooding became increasingly common.

''It's already a major concern with the weather events we've been seeing in recent years, which are only going to get worse as our climate becomes more volatile.''

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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