Safety fence concern

Unsafe... Mataura resident Jenny Soper is concerned the plastic netting safety fence put up on the edge of the Mataura River bank beside River St, after the February 2020 flooding, would not keep anyone from falling to the river if they slipped. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

A Mataura couple are concerned a stretch of the Mataura River bank is dangerous for pedestrians and want action.

The area of river bank is beside River St in the town and is near the Mataura RSA and the former town hall, which is used by a play group and the Mataura Youth Centre Trust.

After the February 2020 flood, Gore District Council staff put up fluro safety netting and warning tape on the edge of the bank eroded during the flooding.

It is about an 8m drop down to the river.

Two years later the netting has fallen down in places and is starting to rot.

Residents Ian and Jenny Soper said the bank appeared to be unstable and unsafe.

“It’s very dangerous for young kids and old people walking around there,” Mr Soper said.

If any weight was put on the netting it would not be an adequate barrier, Mrs Soper said.

“There is nothing up there to stop a small child or anybody slipping and falling when it gets wet.”

Mrs Soper had approached the council and was advised the landowner was Environment Southland and it was responsible for fixing the problem.

She would like a stronger barrier in place in the meantime but hoped the bank, which had been eroding for some time, could be made more secure to prevent further erosion.

“It’s only going to get worse.”

Gore District Council Parks and recreation manager Keith McRobie said the council appreciated residents’ concerns about the bank’s stability in River St and the fact the main flow of the river was cutting into it.

“Our staff have also raised this issue with Environment Southland, which is the landowner.”

Council staff installed fencing in two areas where vegetation was washed away after the February 2020 flood, he said.

The flooding left what staff believed to be “an unstable and sheer bank”.

“This fencing was only meant to be temporary until Environment Southland came up with a permanent solution.”

The council’s parks team looked after the strip on the river bank as part of its work to keep the area tidy.

Environment Southland catchment operations manager Ramon Strong said several sections of the river bank next to River St eroded slightly during the February 2020 floods, but the bank was mostly stable.

The erosion had occurred to the upper half of the bank which was the section the river reached infrequently during large floods.

“Catchment operations staff are working on options to reduce the risk of further erosion.”