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DOC takeover rubbish disaster, but where is the money?

Forest & Bird is welcoming the Department of Conservation taking over the clean-up of the Fox River rubbish disaster, but is concerned that without additional funding, it will come at the expense of important conservation work on the West Coast.

“We’re relieved a government agency is stepping in to rescue the situation, but where is the new money for a job of this scale? What won’t get done as a result?” says Forest & Bird’s Canterbury-West Coast Regional Manager Nicky Snoyink.

“This situation has been a failure at the district and regional council level, and it’s taken too long for central government to step in.”

Ms Snoyink is relieved that Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says this won’t set a precedent.

“DOC can’t be expected to step in whenever an old landfill spills its contents onto our pristine coastlines,” says Ms Snoyink.

“We know there are over 100 old landfills around the country that have been identified as at risk of erosion with only 0.5m of sea level rise, and there will be many more at risk from storms and flooding.”

“Local and central government need to work together to better understand the risk, and develop a plan and a budget that can be immediately put into place when these disasters occur.”

• A disused landfill next to South Westland’s Fox River was eroded on 26 March 2019 following high rainfall.
• Volunteers have worked tirelessly to clean up rubbish from South Westland beaches.
• Westland District Council was provided with $300,000 of central government funding in May, but ceased leading the clean-up work on 31 May, citing lack of capacity and resources.

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