Letter: Rural Rubbish Reticulation System

Over the past two years it has been made very clear by Council employees that any civil minded resident who might consider taking the time to pick up rubbish from the side of their road, should reconsider their generosity. If there is rubbish on the side of the road, Council says, to contact them and contractors will come out and pick it up. But they seldom do.
Council has no system in place where residents can offload such waste without it being at their (exorbitant) financial expense at the mercy of the waste transfer companies. I mean $100 plus per reasonable load? And they are advised that if they pick it up off the road side it becomes their property and their legal responsibility and it has to be disposed of in the correct manner, which happens to be the waste transfer centre. Many discover this once and vow never to do it again while others give up on the idea before they even start.
Those who used to donate their valuable time to pick up roadside rubbish, by joining the local periodic detention club, were eventually denied the opportunity to contribute under the guise that it wasn’t nice for them and other erroneous, dribbly health and safety measures.
A very generous owner of an engineering shop offered to make a local rural school a simple metal rubbish grid, that every year, pupils could lower into the boundary drain and trap and monitor any refuse for identification as an ongoing study project. Sounds like a good idea but! Because of the large amount of rubbish floating past, the school could not afford the additional cost of the increased rubbish disposal, without assistance from Council. The project also required council approved resource management consent, costing $4,500. What is the breakdown of that figure? “I can’t tell you because of reasons of commercial confidentiality”. Because the drain was off school, it also required a risk analysis memorandum (health and safety plan). The cost to be funded by the school. That fabulous, simple little project never got off the ground as a result of stupid, bureaucratic belligerence. Good job Council employees. You should be proud.
However, in the Franklin rural district, we still have the Rural Recycling Reticulation system and it seems to work fine.
It works like this: People drop their rubbish on the side of the road or better, directly into the drains, creeks or pristine springs which are common in this district. With every rain, that rubbish moves further along the drains and with every major downpour the drains flood and in that moment the rubbish gets washed into the creeks and out into the Manukau and Hauraki harbours/ septic tanks. Bingo! Out of sight and out of mind.
On the roadside, the grass grows long and covers all the rubbish including the piles of party bottles and cans, carpet, TV sets, tyres, you name it. But as a bonus, once or twice a year the mowing contractor goes though and BOOOF! It all turns into a billion glass chips and tiny pieces. Much of which ends up in the ground or spread far and wide to again be covered up by the grass or end up in the drains. It certainly keeps it all tidy. We are very fortunate.
The fact is, at the end of the day, by their belligerent decision not to assist proactive community initiatives, councils are actively contributing to this process of illegal dumping. If legislation being considered in parliament goes through, council and individual employees concerned, could be held personally responsible for interfering with the community’s desire to play their part to keep their rural roads clear and for knowingly allowing rubbish of all kinds to enter our waterways and doing nothing.
Phil A. Long-Taylor
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