Punakaiki sea wall hits brick wall

The proposed Punakaiki sea wall extension is near Punakaiki Rocks in Paparoa National Park. Photo / Supplied
The proposed Punakaiki sea wall extension is near Punakaiki Rocks in Paparoa National Park. Photo / Supplied

Community opposition to how the proposed Punakaiki sea wall extension will be funded means it's not yet clear if the work will go ahead.

A West Coast Regional Council (WCRC) meeting yesterday heard that more community members opposed the proposals than supported them.

A survey showed 14 disagreed with proposed funding classifications while 10 agreed. Fourteen also said the work should not proceed as outlined, with 10 saying it should.

Those respondents who included comments in their surveys focused on the costs of the work rather than the proposed engineering option.

Some suggested council seek additional funding from central government. Others said the costs should be shared more widely - even as far as Barrytown and Charleston - given the indirect benefit Punakaiki village provides to other Coast Road businesses.

WCRC chairman Andrew Robb said councillors at yesterday's meeting agreed more time was needed to gather extra information to take back to the community.

"Council can't go against the community's wishes but I think it is likely to go ahead at some point once this community has more information."

There were still some options around availability of rock for the wall, which might bring down the costs, he said.

The council was trying to work out "the best way forward and the fairest way forward -- that's the big thing".

Conversations with central government were continuing to establish whether that could be a source of funding for the work.

He said Punakaiki and Franz Josef were both "tourist destinations struggling with infrastructure - parts of those communities are vital to having tourists there".

It could be argued that funding could be made available from central government for that reason, he said.

In recent months the front of the Punakaiki camping ground, which is owned by Buller District Council, has lost over 11m of land to the sea.

A temporary sandbag wall has been built to try to slow the erosion while the search goes on for a more permanent solution, such as extending the sea wall.

The estimated total cost for an extension is $550,000.

Council staff and councillors met residents of the affected rating district last month to discuss the proposed extension.

Before the meeting council had sent out details of a funding proposal, which involved dividing the rating district into five funding classes. Each class would pay a different targeted rate calculated on factors such as proximity to sea and capital value. Proposed costs ranged from $220.51 per $100,000 of capital value to $3255.41 (the camping ground).

Council staff reported after the May meeting that most residents favoured going ahead with the work.

However, when residents returned survey forms the following week more residents were opposed.

Mr Robb today praised council staff in their work with the Punakaiki community on the issue and trying to get a good outcome for everyone.

- Westport News

- NZ Herald

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