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Rock ruckus sparks flurry of council action

Flagstaff Team

Removal required… Auckland Council has issued 22 abatement notices and set a 10 July deadline for the removal of rocks dumped on Milford Beach in early June. The dumped rocks are lighter in colour than those already on the beach.

Large rocks illegally dumped on Milford Beach must be removed by 10 July, the Auckland Council has ordered. Four property owners and a contractor were issued abatement notices on Wednesday, 17 June, around 10 days after the first rocks were dumped on the sand just south of Milford Rd.

Beach users were enraged to find their progress along the sand at high tide impeded by rocks scattered metres out from existing rock walls. A local resident reported that a truck had made around 14 trips onto the beach.

It is understood the rocks were transported to the beach to bolster the rock walls at the seaward end of properties accessed from Holiday Rd.

North Shore councillor Chris Darby said the work was unconsented.

Spurred on by the public outcry, he called in the council compliance team, which issued a total of 22 abatement notices.

“It’s very unusual,” Darby said. “We might [usually] issue one abatement notice on a property.” Negotiations were preferred to issuing notices.

Those served with notices were told to stop bringing rocks to the site and to remove rocks already there in a way approved by council staff. The contractor was also warned that driving on the beach was not allowed.

Darby praised people for speaking out. “My gratitude is to people who have a strong sense of ownership about their community.”

The council’s manager of regulatory compliance, Steve Pearce, told the Observer that his team expected rock removal to be done carefully. “We have set deadlines for them to supply a methodology, remove the rocks and complete any other necessary remedial works. We expect this to be completed by 10 July.

Failure to comply with an abatement notice would be an offence under the Resource Management Act, he said. Penalties ranged from issuing infringement notices ($750), to taking a prosecution if appropriate. Fines under the RMA went as high as $300,000 for individuals and $600,000 for companies.

The rocks were delivered over the weekend of 6-7 June and possibly later, said Pearce. “We attended the site on 9 June and advised the contractor to cease bringing rocks on the same day.”

He could not confirm at this stage how many trucks and loads were involved.

Pearce said the properties in question had title that extended beyond the existing rock wall. “However, the Auckland Unitary Plan prevents any hard structures such as the rock wall from being established in the Coastal Marine Area (effectively below the high tide line) without consent. It also limits structures immediately above the CMA as this area is prone to flooding and erosion.”

Darby said: “People want to protect their properties but if you require a consent you have to get a consent. Rules govern all.”

This article originally appeared in the 7 July 2020 edition of the Rangitoto Observer.

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