Southland's car dumping issue

Auto Salvage removal specialist Noel Daken and removal specialist Chris Briggs  remove two burnt our cars from Oreti Beach.
Kavinda Herath

Auto Salvage removal specialist Noel Daken and removal specialist Chris Briggs remove two burnt our cars from Oreti Beach.

Melvin Butler says he is "fed up" with people dumping cars on the beach.

The Invercargill Auto Salvage removal specialist said he and his team had been called to remove at least 20 burt out or submerged dumped cars from Oreti Beach so far this year. 

It was the largest amount of dumped cars he and his team had been asked to move since their business started six years ago. 

Auto Salvage removal specialist Melvin Butler is sick of people dumping their cars on Oreti Beach.
Kavinda Herath

Auto Salvage removal specialist Melvin Butler is sick of people dumping their cars on Oreti Beach.

This week his team were called to remove five cars from Oreti Beach, three of which had been reported stolen to the police.

"We used to remove only about five to six dumped cars from the beach a year."

The issues of cars being dumped was reported earlier this year when about 10 cars were found about Christmas time.

A burnt out car found on Oreti Beach, Invercargill, this week
Kavinda Herath

A burnt out car found on Oreti Beach, Invercargill, this week

Invercargill Auto Salvage is contracted by the Invercargill City Council, the Department of Conservation, Environment Southland and the Southland District Council and is responsible for removing any cars reported to be dumped.

"Their should be more regulations about where people can drive on the beach."

His team has also removed about 15 other cars dumped on the side of the road, in bush reserves and on some streets.

A burnt out car found on Oreti Beach, Invercargill, this week
Kavinda Herath

A burnt out car found on Oreti Beach, Invercargill, this week

"We make money doing this but we rather not, this is money the council could better spend on something else."

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The spike in the number of dumped cars could be linked to the cost of scrap metal, he said. 

". . . people are choosing to dump them because it is easier and cheaper then paying for them to be removed."

Whatever the cause, dumped cars were becoming a problem and something desperately needed to be done to stop it, Butler said. 

If nothing changed, Butler thought the only other option would be stopping people driving on Oreti Beach.

However, DOC senior ranger Philip Melgren said it would be very unlikely that driving privileges would be taken away. 

"Oreti Beach is iconic ... I can't see it happening. It would be a last resort."

The long-term effect of dumped cars was a great concern, Melgren said. 

"When cars were burnt out petrol and oil leaks out into the sand.

That kind of pollution could affect the native wildlife including Toheroa shellfish, sealions and penguins. 

Organisations that were included on the Oreti Beach memorandum of understanding were in the  early stages of solving the issue, he said.

The group had toyed with the idea of increasing monitors, installing cameras and making access more restricted, but nothing had been agreed on yet.

"We want to be smart about how we handle this.

"Cameras can't be visible because they will just get vandalised."

Representatives of the memorandum would be meeting within the next few months to start planning the next best course of action, Melgren said

"We need to think of effective ways to prevent this from happening and ways make sure we locate the owners of dumped cars to make them responsible."

Invercargill City Council senior environmental health officer Ann Thompson said dumped cars were a potential health and safety risk for the public. 

People wanted to go to the beach feel safe and enjoy it, which was hard to do when the beach was been used as a dumping site, she said. 

"We are one of the only beaches you can drive on, and that's special.

"If people understood that, than maybe they would take better care of it."

 - Stuff

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