Erosion inaction frustrates

By Julian Lee
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A Hokitika business owner is frustrated that the Westland District Council would not allow him to help fix the rapidly eroding foreshore without going through a lengthy resource consent process.
With stormy weather at the weekend, the sea has eaten away more of the beach front, threatening the Soroptomists’ shelter and the pillbox, which has since been moved back from the edge.
Mike Goodhew offered to pay to dump rock on the foreshore to prevent further erosion, but the council said he must apply for a resource consent from the West Coast Regional Council, at a cost of $500.
He has now filed a consent application but says that could take up to 20 working days to be processed.
Mr Goodhew owns several properties along the waterfront and is flabbergasted the council has done nothing about the issue.
“No one is doing anything about it. I can’t believe it. It’s a no-brainer. It’s common sense. There has got to be someone up there at council with a brain.”
Mr Goodhew said he should be entitled to a reduction from his rates considering he had to fork out extra just to be allowed to hem up the foreshore.
“I reckon I have got a good case to get that taken off my rates. I’m trying to protect my bloody buildings and no one is doing anything about it. My insurance company aren’t going to like it one bit if I got flooded out. I reckon they have got a good case to sue council if my place gets damaged.”
Council chief executive Tanya Winter said she was not prepared to comment on Mr Goodhew’s specific situation but said the council could not afford to do much about it.
“Council staff are keeping a close watch on the foreshore to assess further risk, however given current financial constraints, decisions are more reactive than proactive. Council staff inspected the site to assess the damage and agree on the action required.
“The erosion patterns are cyclic and it is difficult to predict the extent of erosion. At this stage a portion of the walking track has been lost and access to the area is restricted.”
She said the council had taken preliminary steps to prevent immediate damage to people or existing structures.
“Warning signs have been placed to advise users of the extreme erosion risk. Staff have removed a seat, however at this stage the Soroptimist’s shelter remains in place.
“Council have made a decision to relocate the pillbox away from the sea. The pillbox was installed as a Heritage Hokitika project and they have made a financial contribution towards the cost of its relocation,” Ms Winter said.