24 April 2014

Clean conscience

23/11/2011 10:52:00 a.m.


They cleaned up the beach; you clean up your act.

They cleaned up the beach; you clean up your act.

Four wheel drivers were told face to face on Saturday that the Wellington City Council has made up its mind to control vehicle access to the south coast if reckless driving in the area does not stop. A big group of four wheel drive enthusiasts gathered at Owhiro Bay on Saturday for the Cross Country Vehicle Club (CCVC) annual south coast beach clean-up. Capital Times’ Jennifer Niven went along for the ride.
The CCVC has run a beach clean-up event every year for 11 years but this year the purpose was to clean up some of the tonnes of rubbish washed up or dumped on the coastline every year, and to let track users know that the problem of irresponsible use will be solved one way or another.
Amber Bill of Wellington City Council told drivers the council is considering a permit system or restricting access to particular days of the week. Though she acknowledged she was probably “preaching to the converted,” Bill’s message was: it’s time to be sensible driving around Wellington’s fragile south coast.
Describing the area as “the jewel in the crown” of the 4,000 hectares of open space she manages as the Manager of Community Engagement and Reserves, Bill spoke of the council’s campaign of “social pressure” to end the actions of a small group of reckless drivers ruining the fun for everybody else.
Trail bikes and four wheel drive vehicles straying from the tracks damage the area, destroying native plants that take a long time to grow in the harsh coastal environment and spoiling the home of insects, lizards, birds and seals. On Saturday signs warning the public to avoid driving up and down the delicate hillside had been knocked over.
Clean up organiser Barry Insull invited several Wellington four wheel drive clubs to the clean-up to spread the message.
“Hopefully we can get on top of stupid behaviour by a small element who show little regard for property and the environment,” says Insull.
Insull led the convoy of about 30 vehicles, from the Owhiro Bay information centre just after 10am, driving up through the steep, bumpy back hills from the Tip Track that begins at Happy Valley until they reached the coastline past Red Rocks.
Due to regular clean ups on the private land, there was not as much rubbish as expected.
After donning gloves and gumboots and filling bags with what was there - including a large amount of plastic and abandoned, half-empty beer bottles - the group finished with sausages on the barbecue in the sun at one of the historic Red Rocks baches
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