Mining complaints keep West Coast council busy

Source: Local Democracy Reporting

West Coast Regional Council staff dealt with 10 complaints in May alleging breaches of resource consents -- among them an array of goldmine complaints.

Waimea Creek in the West Coast.

By Brendon McMahon, Local Democracy Reporter

The monthly compliance and enforcement report showed 82 site visits by council in May, including two for resource consent monitoring, 20 for mining compliance and mine bond release visits, and 50 dairy farm checks.

A total of 12 complaints and incidents were recorded.

Consents and compliance manager Colin Helem said council took formal enforcement action against a Goldsborough miner for discharging sediment-laden water into Waimea Creek.

It followed an initial complaint of discoloured water in the creek.

It could not be traced but the following day council found two Goldsborough miners in the catchment, discharging. One operator who had previously been under council scrutiny was fined. The other was formally warned as they had not previously been in trouble.

There are several medium-sized gold mining operations in the Waimea catchment in the locality of Stafford and Goldsborough.

A Stafford miner pinged by council for operating before 8am on a Saturday was reminded of their consent obligations by a simple phone call, Mr Helem said.

The council received a separate complaint relating to "ongoing issues" with gold mining allegedly degrading the lower Waimea Creek.

"The complainant was assured that the council has been proactive in the monitoring of this area and has undertaken enforcement action when appropriate."

Complaints that the diversion of a small creek was causing flooding on an uncompleted subdivision at Kokiri came up again.

"The creek has now been put back into its original channel. Inquiries are still ongoing."

Potential drainage of a wetland following the installation of a culvert at Paroa, prompting a complaint, was not upheld as the culvert was for existing access to a property.

A road built to an estuary near Karamea did not breach any rules. The Buller District Council had visited the site at Little Wanganui and found a walking track had been formed through 80m of bush but it was compliant.

A complaint that earthworks had been undertaken in what was believed to be a wetland at Fairdown north of Westport was found to be on dry land "overgrown in manuka", with aerial photos of the area in 2013 showing it was previously pasture.

Council staff visited a Virgin Flat site near Charleston following a complaint earthworks were being undertaken near a wetland. Inquiries are ongoing.

Council staff visited a proposed Kumara goldmine site where the owners have applied for consent. It followed a complaint goldmining "may be occurring" on the property.

"No issues were found, the landowner was using an excavator to clear a road and fenceline."

A Westport complaint about smoke from a domestic fire, allegedly causing ill health, was passed to the Buller District Council as it was a Health Act matter.

A complaint about alleged earthworks near a wetland at Mitchells by the Lake Brunner boat ramp was not upheld.

"No works had been carried out in the vicinity of the wetland - the boat ramp car parking area and drain had been cleaned up."