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Escalation in earthworks

Escalation in earthworks

Major earthworks activity has spiralled around Tauranga over the past year but contractors are coping well, even though sites are generally becoming larger and more difficult.

Environment Bay of Plenty monitored 88 large-scale projects last season, 62 of them in the greater Tauranga area. The previous season, staff dealt with only 34 sites in the sub-region, just over half of this year’s total.

Environmental compliance officer Fiona Mountfort told last week’s regulation and monitoring committee meeting that 93% of large-scale sites had logged high or medium levels of compliance. She says this was an improvement on the previous season - even though contractors are tackling larger sites and more challenging terrain. “Most of the easy blocks of land are already subdivided,” she explains, “so it’s likely this trend will continue.”

Ms Mountfort says 7% of projects had low compliance with resource consent conditions. The main reasons for non-compliance included sites not being stabilised by the given date and erosion and sediment controls not installed properly. Some sites created a dust nuisance beyond their boundaries. She says some contractors were caught out by extremes of weather such as heavy rain events and long dry spells.

An earthworks project fits into the large-scale category when the disturbed area is greater than one hectare or when the project involves disturbing more than 2000 cubic metres of soil. For road construction, it is when more than 5000 cubic metres is disturbed over one kilometre.

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