Greytown votes no confidence in flood protection proposal

By Hayley Gastmeier -
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The Waiohine River in Wairarapa.
The Waiohine River in Wairarapa.

About 100 Greytown people "unanimously" cast a vote of no confidence in Greater Wellington Regional Council's flood protection plans for the town at a meeting on Monday.

The public meeting was called by a group of 17 Greytown ratepayers, including former Wairarapa MP John Hayes.

The group had concerns the community didn't "have its head around what is being done to it" through GWRC's draft plan, which Mr Hayes said "does not make sense".

A Greytown-wide flyer drop urged residents to "wake up" and to attend the meeting in which farmers, land owners and engineers spoke out against the plan, drawing on their knowledge and experience of the area.

Mr Hayes said the meeting had been "very successful" and a unanimous vote of no confidence in the draft plan was cast.

Yesterday he sent a submission from the ratepayers of the Waiohine catchment to GWRC, expressing "dissatisfaction with, and complete lack of confidence in, the Waiohine flood management process presently being undertaken."

"We demand that the process be stopped immediately," the submission read.
"The views and recommendations of our local advisory committee have been largely ignored by GWRC officials for the last 10 years.

"In addition, long-term residents have never observed flooding to the extent predicted by the floodplain models."

In response to the submission, GWRC chairman Chris Laidlaw said a lot of work had gone into the draft Waiohine River Floodplain Management Plan.

"We have worked hard over many years, drawing on local knowledge and technical investigations to come up with a plan to manage the flood risk.

"The local advisory committee had to weigh up many issues and trade-offs, taking into account the many views.

"It is totally wrong to say that recommendations of the local advisory committee have been ignored," Mr Laidlaw said.

He said the proposed plan aimed to provide "better protection for everyone", focusing on where people, homes and businesses were.

"This is the time for the local community to have their say, including on the costs and how much protection is needed."

Mr Hayes said the advisory committee, a group of people who "have been involved with it [the GWRC flood scheme] in some cases for eight years or more", also had no confidence in the submissions hearing group appointed by GWRC, and Greytown ratepayers would not support any flood protection designed for more than a 50-year flood.

The submission asked GWRC "as a matter of urgency" to start work immediately on the stop-bank improvements at Fullers Bend "as we accept that flood protection in this area is inadequate".

South Wairarapa District councillor for the Greytown ward Margaret Craig attended the meeting at the South Wairarapa Workingmen's Club, along with two Carterton District councillors.

She estimated there was 100 people present, including "urban and rural ratepayers from within the Waiohine catchment area, past and present members of the Waiohine Flood Plain Advisory Committee and a number of engineers with hydrology qualifications".

Ratepayers have until this Friday 5pm to make submissions about the proposal to GWRC.

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