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It's time to get tough

THE council will need to come up with an enforcement strategy to get planting done on the remaining areas of the district’s most erosion-prone land, Gisborne District Council’s environmental planning and regulations committee was told.

This would be necessary before funding for the sustainable hill country programme runs out in 2020.

There are 104 properties covering 4383 hectares still without an Overlay 3A works plan for the scheme that makes tree planting on severely eroding land compulsory, and for which the Government has contributed $30 million over 10 years.

Environmental and science manager Lois Easton told councillors there were a number of reasons why people had not done any work or produced a work programme.

The vast majority of sites where nothing had been done were multiply- owned properties where there could be as many as 100 owners. It was quite difficult for decisions to be made and to get in touch with them.

Some were not occupied and in other cases there might be someone on them but it was difficult to ascertain who was able to make a decision.

These were properties they would not be able to sort out by the planting deadline of 2021.

There were other properties that did have the capability, where action was needed.

'. . . to continue to receive funding the council needed to make planting compulsory . . .'Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour said it was a requirement of the Crown that to continue to receive funding the council needed to make planting compulsory — because the uptake had not been adequate.

Rehette Stoltz said now this had changed to enforcement action, what was the council going to do?

Ms Easton said the council would need to plan what to do and to identify on a site-by-site basis why people had not complied. It would examine and prioritise.

“This land needs to be treated for erosion,” she said.

“If it is not treated it undermines all the efforts the landowners who have treated their land have done because it is literally spewing so much sediment into the environment.”

Research done by Landcare and others showed if the work was not done, the 36 million tonnes of sediment going in to the Waiapu River each year would double.

The environmental effects of erosion were massive and the council had to get it treated somehow.

The council had been taking a gentle, soft, assist approach but it was now going to have to look at how it addressed areas of land on which it had not been successful.

It was a concern to her that there were no work plans for two large properties managed by Te Tumu Paeroa, the Maori Trustee. They had had 2½ years to establish tree cover on properties but had not started.

Mrs Seymour said the council had employed 2½ full-time staff to work with landowners to see this project did happen because it was absolutely critical.

Environmental services and protection director Nick Zaman said staff would have to come back with an enforcement strategy.

Tiniroto Erosion. File picture