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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Red Zone maintenance

In his weekly update released yesterday Roger Sutton covered a number of issues important to those living in the Red zones or nearby.

Extracts from the update appear below. Some of the content needs to be seen as a starting point in discussions and negotiations between CERA and various communities. Areas where this will apply include destruction of established trees of various species and sizes, habitat protection, and how risks and security issues can be dealt with promptly and before damage, loss, or harm occurs. Not mentioned below, but starting to become a widespread health issue, is the growing number rats which will need to be tackled on an area-wide basis. 

An excellent concept is contained in the last bullet point where a single phone number will become available to deal with concerns.

  • Demolitions in the residential red zone will start in the new year with built structures such as houses and garages removed first. Remaining fences, vegetation, driveways and paths will be removed later. People may remove favourite trees and plants before they vacate the property.
  • CERA has been working with Fire Service, Police, Insurers, ECan and Councils around safety and security of properties in the residential red zone. Canterbury typically has dry summers and winds which increase the fire risk and the Fire Service continues to identify fire hazards and has a process in place to respond.
  • Responsibility for properties ultimately lies with the owners which includes mitigating risks on their properties including fire, security, hazardous wastes, swimming pools etc Owners may be private, Council, Department of Building and Housing, insurance companies or CERA. Councils have processes in place to inspect properties and can require owners to take steps to mitigate any risks or security issues.
  • Waimakariri District Council has a plan to mow grass on some of the empty sections before Christmas and Christchurch City Council mows the grass verges and is currently working with CERA to provide a service to red zone property owners who can call them to arrange to have their grass cut.
  • ECan has been funded by the Ministry for the Environment to collect hazardous waste from Red Zone properties – that might include garden sprays, engine oil, gas cylinders, fridges with refrigerant, paint etc.
  • We are concerned that people may either leave hazardous substances unsecured in empty properties or pour substances down the drain which will ultimately go into the storm water or sewerage system and into the environment. We are encouraging people to phone ECan to access this service.
  • We are also working together to produce one phone number for people to call if the have concerns about a property and hope to have that set up after the Christmas break. In the mean time, we encourage people to call ECan, Council or CERA if the have any concerns about properties – we can’t be everywhere and we appreciate people bringing any issues to our attention.
The full update from Roger Sutton can be found here.

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