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Council remains committed to its role in Fox River clean-up

Westland District Council is fully committed to its continued role in the clean-up of the Fox and Cook Rivers, and South Westland beaches, following the devastating March floods that washed out an old landfill in the Fox River.

Mayor Bruce Smith today welcomed the announcement from Minister of Conservation and Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage that that the Department of Conservation (DOC) will replace Westland District Council as the lead agency co-ordinating the clean-up of the riverbed and coast downstream of the council’s Fox River landfill.

“The Minister notes,” Smith said, “that Westland District Council will still have the responsibility for the actual landfill, ensuring no more rubbish can be eroded into the Fox River.

“We were always aware this would be something we had to manage. It was one of the reasons we sought additional Government help with the clean-up effort. In the back of our minds was that the cost of a permanent solution for the former Fox River landfill would still be borne by council. That alone might cost us something in excess of $1million in unbudgeted expenditure.”

Smith said ensuring no more rubbish from the old landfill enters the Fox River will take a lot of work.

“While we have secured it against further incursion during normal high river levels, it remains vulnerable to rare extremely high floods such as seen in March.

“None of the options for permanently dealing with the site will be simple or inexpensive. Options include the complete removal of all the rubbish to another site, which would be a huge exercise. However, the remedial work we have already done buys us the time we need to decide on the best option.”

Mayor Smith said he was pleased Minister Sage had acknowledged the council and volunteer effort to date.

“There has been a huge amount of work done by many organisations within our community,” the Mayor said. “The council has already spent a significant amount of money following the flood emergency, supported by DOC, volunteers, local businesses and other agencies. The response to date would not have been possible without this combined effort.”

In addition to working on the best option to permanently resolve the risk from the remaining former landfill, Mayor Smith said the council will support DOC with the in-river clean-up, and will continue its work with DOC to come up with a long term management plan.

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