Illegal dumping at Hutt River costing up to $80,000 per year to clean up

Greater Wellington Regional Council is calling on locals to help it stop the Hutt River from becoming a dumping ground.

Your playlist will load after this ad

After 38 years, the man leading the fight to keep the riverbed clean has had enough. Source: 1 NEWS

“It's really annoying to see the rubbish dumped in these areas that people well use and enjoy the environment, so it’s disappointing,” Greater Wellington Regional Council engineering officer Mike Jensen said.

Mr Jensen’s seen fly tipping in and around Hutt River for 38 years and says removing the waste can cost up to $80,000 a year.

“It's a bit of laziness and things like avoiding tip fees and more convenience for them to dump it.

“It ranges from general domestic rubbish, bit of DIY, renovating your house to commercial dumping - things like tyres, concrete and other general waste like that,” he said.

On one of the regional council rubbish runs today, a pile of concrete, tyres, fireworks, a bed mattress, green waste and a couch in the middle of the river were found.

“Think what they’re doing… they're actually hurting the environment and it is a cost to the ratepayer,” Mr Jensen said.

The regional council wants people who catch dumpers in the act to get in touch.

Local Government New Zealand vice president Stuart Crosby said it’s a growing and concerning issue for councils around the country.

Mr Crosby said the organisation is lobbying the Government to put a tougher regulatory system in place, with increased financial penalties for fly tipping.

“New Zealanders do learn from their back pocket but at the moment it’s quite frustrating for councils to put a system in place where they can instantly fine fly tippers,” he said.

Mr Crosby said there’s a strong waste disposal network in place with dumps and transfer stations around the country, and said he rejects the argument that cost is a factor when disposal is cheaper in New Zealand than in some countries like Australia.

A press secretary for Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said a proposal to increase the waste levy of $10 per tonne would see local councils get more funding for waste minimisation projects like illegal dumping, as the receivers of half the fee.

A spokesperson for the Ministry for the Environment said the Litter Act allows a council to fine a maximum of $400 for littering, but prosecution is an option for more serious offences.