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Small-scale earthworks concern to environment

MEDIA RELEASE

Small-scale earthworks concern to environment

For immediate release: Wednesday 30 November 2005

Large-scale earthworks are being carried out professionally in the Bay of Plenty but some of the smaller jobs are still causing concern, says Environment Bay of Plenty.

Many small earthworks do not need resource consent because they pose little environmental risk. This category can include activities such as preparing a house site, landscaping, or creating a driveway.

Individually, such jobs are not a great problem. However, because of their sheer numbers, they can have a cumulative effect, says the regional council’s manager consents and compliance Andy Bruere. That’s especially true in new subdivisions with lots of building activity, he adds.

“When it rains heavily, soil washes off these sites and into stormwater systems or nearby waterways. Poor quality earthworks are a risk, whether they are small or big in size, so everybody must take care and play their part.”

Staff at district and city councils process building and other consents for activities that can involve smaller-scale earthworks. When they are a permitted activity, these earthworks do not require active monitoring.

Because of this, a united approach will need to be taken to get the right message through to site operators and contractors. Environment Bay of Plenty will be talking to staff at other councils to see if they can keep environmental issues in mind when they assess applications and carry out site visits. “We realise this is not their primary brief, but it is the only way we can improve the situation,” Mr Bruere explains. “We need to make an ongoing effort to raise awareness about the issue.”

Environment Bay of Plenty’s Regional Stormwater Strategy will help because it will grant comprehensive stormwater consents for a whole catchment or group of catchments, rather than for unrelated individual activities. District and city councils will take over responsibility for managing these consents as they are granted between now and 2010.

At Environment Bay of Plenty’s regulation and monitoring committee meeting last week (Tuesday 22 November), chairman Ian Noble congratulated larger earthworks contractors for their performance. More than 100 contractors, consultants and local authority staff attended an earthworks workshop in Tauranga recently. Based on an active earthworks site, it included presentations and discussions on practical aspects of earthworks.

ENDS

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