About 30 cubic metres of rubbish has been removed from pristine bush north of Whangārei at a cost of around $20,000 to ratepayers.
The illegal dump, known as a fly-tip, down the bank part way along the gravel section of Puhipuhi Rd was cleaned up yesterday. For Whangārei District Council waste and drainage field officer Grant Alsop, it's the latest in a string of costly, frustrating clean-ups of fly-tips in Whangārei.
"It's disheartening for council to be having to clean up this mess."
Alsop said the clean up would cost around $20,000.
He said landfills are designed to contain by-products to stop them infiltrating the surrounding environments, but illegal dumps like this one don't have any of that.
"We wish if people are having problems disposing of waste that they come and talk to us rather than polluting native bush."
However in this case he said a lot of it was recyclable - which has no charge to get rid of.
"A lot of it is just laziness as far as offenders are concerned."
The rubbish was largely household rubbish - cans and plastic in various forms, as well as large items including a freezer, a stove and a van.
Alsop said the rubbish which spilled down the bank, was strewn across around 100 square metres.
A crew of seven contractors worked up to 40 metres below the road loading rubbish by hand into a three cubic metre skip bin.
The bin was lifted up by a 100 tonne crane and emptied into a huka bin on the road.
Alsop said the rubbish appeared to have been at the site for several years.
He said the council are dealing with around 80 jobs a month - which vary from a rubbish bag or a piece of furniture dumped on the side of the road through to the large sites like this one.
"We need to look after the district for the next generation."
Alsop said the rubbish hauled up from the side of Puhipuhi Rd would be looked through to find any names.
"Anyone we identify will be sent the maximum infringement notice of $400."
A bill to amend to the Litter Act to increase the maximum fine for an infringement from $400 to $1000 has passed its first reading in Parliament and has been referred to the Environment Select Committee.
It's a move, if passed, Alsop hoped would help with the problem fly-tipping is and make people think twice about doing it.
The Puhipuhi Rd site was first discovered around the middle of last year, but inclement weather and the need to carry out work on the road to allow a crane big enough to be able to reach the rubbish at the bottom to get through, delayed the clean up.
An arborist was also required to clear some trees to make access to the rubbish dump easier.
Ratepayers have forked out more than $300,000 over the past two financial years to clean up fly-tips in all corners of the district.
In the 2017/18 financial year, the council spent $123,072 cleaning up fly-tips, on top of the around $200,000 the year before.
Yesterday's estimated $20,000 clean up isn't reflected in those figures as it falls in the new financial year.
"It's money just wasted, it could be spent elsewhere," Alsop said.
In July last year, a site with around 45cu m was cleaned up in Parakao, near the Whangarei and Kaipara border.
Then two sites only a kilometre apart were found on Kaiikanui Rd, near Mimiwhangata in September and December last year. All three also needed cranes to clean up the rubbish from down steep banks.