River edge resident wants own controls

PHOTO: ODT FILES
PHOTO: ODT FILES
Rakaia contactor and landowner Philip Brown is seeking a river consent to allow him to do his own river protection works.

Mr Brown, who has an earthworks company, lives on the south side of the Rakaia River and is a member of the lower Rakaia rating district.

He is a third generation landowner on the farm property, which except for a small parcel where he lives, he has leased out to family. However the whole property has about half a kilometre of river frontage.

He has, for the past few years, questioned staff from Environment Canterbury (Ecan) about the way they maintain the Rakaia River, including their river protection with the planting of willow tree poles, which he believed should be dug into water for higher rate of success.

‘‘I have shown [Environment Canterbury staff] the results of willows which have been planted in adequate water and other sites where moisture is a limiting factor,’’ he said.

‘‘The results are quite spectacular. Ecan still insist on their way of planting the poles.’’

Mr Brown was now seeking permissions, there were a few stakeholders to contact, to resume the protection work on his own section of the river, and was working through the necessary paperwork.

‘‘We are told that large rate increases are required to do more extensive flood protection work when this is not the case,’’ he said.

‘‘Before the Resource Management Act (RMA) came into existence it was possible to protect one’s property from flood erosion, which I did very successfully.

‘‘My initial protection work was a very cost-effective method and held for a number of years.

‘‘After the RMA was enacted I parked up all the machinery for fear of prosecution and let Ecan manage the flood protection. The result now, is that most of my work has been washed away due to lack of maintenance,’’ he said.

He said Ecan river engineer Leigh Griffiths had, in the past, given an overview of rating districts and maintaining flood structures in the bed of the river.

‘‘Her discussion sounds quite reasonable from an outside position of rating district,’’ he said.

Mr Brown said the only way to move forward for the rating district was to get a river consent so ratepayers could do their own work, on time and at a realistic budget, which was what he was undertaking to do.

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