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The contentious issue of gravel management is being addressed by a new working party.
Members so far include Councillors Stuart Bryant and Trevor Norriss, plus Chief Executive Lindsay McKenzie. They will be joined by representatives from other interested parties such as adjoining land owners, industry representatives, iwi and Fish & Game, says Stuart.
“We’ll be trying to work collaboratively to address the problems of gravel management, particularly gravel extraction.”
Big floods in the Aorere and Motueka River catchments within the last two years, plus problems in the Buller, have given the matter urgency, Stuart adds. The working party hopes to make significant headway by Christmas 2012, “a tight timeframe”.
Taking gravel from a river is seen by some as degrading it, and interfering with fish habitat and spawning, he says. On the other hand, the gravel is a useful resource, and adjoining landowners worry that a high riverbed will push water onto their farmland after heavy rain, or cause erosion.
“It’s certainly not an easy issue,” Stuart concedes, but he says he has confidence in the group members to sort it out. The working party will meet “as often as it takes” – perhaps monthly or six-weekly. An open day will be held soon to give all interested parties a chance to have input.