ORC has role to play over dunes

Responsibility for erosion repairs at Dunedin's Ocean Beach may not lie solely with the Dunedin City Council, its community and environment committee heard yesterday.

St Clair resident Bill Brown fronted the committee with a plea for action on the ongoing coastal erosion.

His fears were that the erosion was happening far quicker than any DCC response could mitigate.

Speaking at the meeting, Cr David Benson-Pope said it was ''clear that work of some kind'' was needed.

''We know that the sea level is rising.''

But it was possible some of the responsibility for the repairs needed could lie with the Otago Regional Council, he said.

It was his understanding the ORC's responsibility included marine and coastal areas up to and including the mean high water springs (MHWS).

The ORC's website referred to the MHWS as ''the highest level to which spring tides reach on average over a period of time''.

''This level is generally close to being the `high water mark' where debris accumulates on the shore annually.''

It seemed logical erosion at Ocean Beach was being caused at or around that line, Cr Benson-Pope said. While he was not suggesting the DCC shirk its responsibility, it meant the ORC was inextricably involved.

''If it's wave action at high tide, why isn't the ORC sitting at the table?''

ORC chief executive Peter Bodeker yesterday confirmed the marine environment from the MHWS out to the 12 nautical mile (22.2km) mark was his council's jurisdiction.

Coastal erosion had traditionally been the domain of the local territorial authority, but the ORC did appear to ''have a degree of responsibility''.

''We certainly have an interest. We have a coastal plan that starts at that part [of the beach] and heads out 12 miles.''

He said if the ORC was invited to join the discussion, ''we would consider that''.

But there was no provision in ORC budgets for any money to be spent on coastal erosion.

''There's certainly no funding in our long-term plan that would fund that. That doesn't ever mean never, but there is no funding in the next three years, or the next 10 years either.''

craig.borley@odt.co.nz

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