Hopes for early talks on erosion

Bill Acklin
Bill Acklin
The Dunedin City Council hopes talks aimed at tackling erosion problems at Te Rauone Beach, on Otago Peninsula, can be held before budget hearings later this year.

Cr Bill Acklin - chairman of the council's community development committee - said this week he hoped to meet Otago Regional Council and Port Otago representatives before draft budget meetings scheduled for May.

The talks would help parties better understand what needed to be done to protect the beach and coastal property in the area from erosion, and how urgent the work was, he said.

It would also be a chance to discuss how responsibility for meeting the cost of any work should be shared, he said.

The ORC was responsible for the administration of the coastline under the Resource Management Act, and the city council for Te Rauone reserve.

However, exactly who should pay to protect private property in the area has been the source of disagreement between the parties.

"That's all part of what needs to be worked through," Cr Acklin said.

His comments came after the Otago Daily Times in January reported residents feared homes in the area would be under threat within the year, if erosion continued unabated, and that waves from passing cruise ships and container carriers were making the problem worse.

Port Otago had proposed a breakwater and beach replenishment project, but wanted $160,000 from the city council to help pay for the work - funding the city council said would need to be considered during the draft annual and long-term plan hearings in May.

Cr Acklin last month suggested a cost-sharing deal involving all three parties might be a way forward, but ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead was quick to reject the idea at the time.

The erosion issue was discussed again at this week's community development committee meeting, with Cr Acklin reiterating a "round-table discussion" involving the three parties was needed.

Mayor Dave Cull asked if there was any precedent of city or regional councils providing help in situations where coastal erosion was causing problems.

Community and recreation services manager Mick Reece said when 2007 storms damaged the St Clair and Middle Beach areas, the legal advice then was the dunes were protecting council infrastructure.

If council infrastructure was in trouble, private property would have followed.

City environment general manager Tony Avery said it was "not a city council responsibility to protect private land".

"There is no legal imperative for the council to protect private land."

Cr Lee Vandervis asked about the role of the regional council, which owned Port Otago and was involved in dredging the harbour.

He said that the issue seemed "far more relevant to them".

Mr Avery said the councils needed to discuss the matter.

Cr Jinty MacTavish noted there was much frustration within the community at Te Rauone, and it "deserved an outcome".



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