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Concern for Bluecliffs residents leading into colder months – ‘no wriggle room left’

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Local Democracy Reporter

27 February 2024, 7:04 AM

Concern for Bluecliffs residents leading into colder months – ‘no wriggle room left’ A digger cuts into the bar at Bluecliffs in an effort to realign the adjacent river. Erosion is threatening both properties and a community landfill at the small coastal settlement, which remains under a state of emergency. Photo: Luke Bracefield/Supplied

A resident of an erosion-threatened Southland community is feeling let down after emergency management failed to finish planned work.


Coastal settlement Bluecliffs has been under a state of emergency since February 8 following heavy rain and swells which accelerated damage in the area.


Late last week, Emergency Management Southland contractors aimed to realign the river which backs onto properties, hoping it would slow down erosion.


Bluecliffs resident Rex Rowe said there was "no wriggle room left" between the river and the properties it threatens in coastal Southland. Photo: Tess Brunton/RNZ


But resident Rex Rowe said the plan hadn’t been followed through in full, which was “a bit of a letdown”.


“It is important that this is opened, very important. Because we’re leading into Autumn soon, so naturally the river flow is going to be higher.


“There’s no wriggle room left.”



Rowe said the river — which runs adjacent to the sea — was “extremely close” to the back of the properties.


Another flood would be bad news for the community, and people wanted answers, he said.


“It’s crucial to all residents down here at the moment.”



The situation at Bluecliffs is being monitored by a number of parties including Emergency Management Southland, Environment Southland (the regional council) and Southland District Council.


Southland Mayor Rob Scott previously told media he was disappointed emergency management had indicated the job was complete late last week when that wasn’t the case.


On Tuesday, Scott told Local Democracy Reporting he had caught up with Environment Southland and confirmed more work would be done.



“We don’t have any answers yet in terms of what the next steps are but the fact that it’s being addressed and they’re looking into it is a good start.


“I stand by what I said in the weekend because it was a reflection of the situation. The release that went out late last week saying it was done . . . it’s not done when the river’s still flowing past the houses.”


Scott said the work already undertaken had been completed over a couple of weeks while the river was at a low level.



“Of course everyone, and myself included, was getting very hopeful that there was going to be a light at the end of the tunnel late last week."


Civil Defence controller Simon Mapp said on Monday that Emergency Management Southland, Southland District Council and Environment Southland would regroup this week to work out the next steps in opening the bar.


They would also discuss how to remove material from an exposed community landfill next to the river, which had been granted $1.35 million from Minister for the Environment Penny Simmonds.



Bluecliffs is home to about 18 properties, although only six house permanent residents.


LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air




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