James McKeown with just a fraction of the rubbish dumped at the top of the Whangamoas. Photo: Andrew Board.

Roadside rubbish dump disgusts

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The cost of disposing household waste in Nelson could be behind a mounting “fly-tip” at the top of the Whangamoas, says one resident who is dismayed at the amount of rubbish being dumped there.

Nelson man James McKeown spotted the dumping ground on the crest of the Whangamoas by State Highway 6 two months ago, after stopping for a breather on his motorbike.

He says he wouldn’t have come across it if he hadn’t helped a fellow motorcyclist who had hit a crash barrier and landed in a “whole lot of rubbish”.

James says he was “shocked” to see gutted pigs and skins, old fridges, car parts, tyres and old carpet, as well as house-hold rubbish bags and green waste by the state highway, which is the responsibility of the NZ Transport Agency to keep free of rubbish.

“The smell was so bad, and there were Weka foraging around in the rubbish,” he says.

“It just seems to be an ongoing thing.”

The area with rubbish stretches around 30 metres along the cliff edge and can be seen at least 20 metres down the cliff.

Trees and scrubs block the view past that.

James believes the fly-tip has been spurred by expensive dump fees and that, while most people dispose of their rubbish lawfully, refuse station fees can be a financial disincentive for some Nelson residents.

Costs range from $20 to take a car boot sized load of general refuse to the Nelson City Council’s transfer station on Vivian Place in Tahunanui, to $80 for 1.5 – 2.0m3 of waste and $40.00 per m3 thereafter.

You’ll pay half the cost for green waste, and if you want to get rid of a car tyre, it’ll cost you $7.00.

The transfer station charges, which are reviewed annually, have risen between $5 and $15 since 2010, depending on how much waste you have, but green waste charges remain the same.

James believes that fly-tipping becomes a “habit” for those who can’t afford the growing dump fees, and asks why the Nelson City Council haven’t put more money into this area so that people don’t have to dump elsewhere.

“It costs less to drive up to the Whangamoas than to go to the dump,” he says.

“For some of our community, the cost of going to the transfer station is just too out of reach. It needs to be more affordable for people otherwise they won’t use it.”

Mark Owen, Regional Performance manager for the NZ Transport Agency told the Nelson Weekly that they have crews regularly clearing rubbish the Whangamoas on State Highway 6 and respond quickly if they are informed of rubbish being dumped.

However, he says the priority is on rubbish visible from the road.

“Given the length of the state highways and the remoteness of some areas, it is difficult to put in place measures to prevent people dumping rubbish at the side of the road,” he says.

“Anyone who is aware of people dumping rubbish on or near state highways can report it to the NZ Transport Agency 0800 44 44 49 or their local council. Where there are particular problem areas for rubbish dumping, the Transport Agency can work with the other agencies and local councils to trace people responsible.”