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Helicopter Only Option for Whitewash Heads Demolition

Helicopter Only Option for Whitewash Heads Demolition

For immediate release

04th August 2014

The first helicopter-assisted residential demolition will get underway this week after months of planning and evaluation of potential options. The operation will be run with precision to remove about 100 tonnes of house materials from a property on the Sumner cliffs, perched some 70 metres above sea level, and airlifted across the ocean to a landing zone on Anzac Drive. From here it will be off-loaded and transported by road to Burwood Recovery Park. The entire operation will involve more than 100 round trips and is estimated to take between 4 to 5 weeks to complete the deconstruction and removal.

The property on Whitewash Heads Road was severely damaged in the June 2011 earthquake and was deemed uneconomic to repair late last year. Since then Southern Response has undertaken a robust evaluation of numerous methodologies before deciding on the helicopter-assisted demolition program, after heavy rain early in the winter made digger and truck access by road impossible.

Tom Newton, demolition leader for the Southern Response Earthquake Recovery Project, says that the process of determining the safest, most efficient and cost effective method for the demolition has been grueling.

“We initially ruled out helicopter involvement due to the apparent cost involved but when it became clear that traditional approaches would simply not work on this site we went back to the heli operators and negotiated a way forward. Properties like this one are severely compromised and leaving them standing is simply not an option, neither for the homeowner nor for Southern Response.”

“Despite the delay in getting demolition underway, the process has been invaluable in terms of working with contractors to find agreeable and innovative solutions”, says Southern Response CEO, Peter Rose. “This is really where benefits of collaboration are beginning to come to the fore,” he added.

Material will be airlifted from the site in 2 tonne certified bags, with each round trip taking approximately 8 minutes to complete.

Helicopter operations will be carried out by local operator Helicontrax Ltd. Owner Ben Walker says the job will be a standard lifting operation by transiting from point to point at our legal operating height.

“While we have undertaken all due diligence to ensure every element is carefully planned and safely executed, this is very much BAU for our team. We’ll have crews on the ground both on the Whitewash Heads property and at the landing zone.”

“We were involved in choppering food all over the region immediately after the earthquakes so for us being involved in the next phase of disaster recovery is a natural progression and a real honour” says Walker.

Stripping of the interior of the property has been completed in preparation for hard demolition which commenced last week. Commuters may expect some delays on Whitewash Head Road and sections of Flowers Track during helicopter operations, however plans are in place to minimise any prolonged inconvenience to residents.


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