Muddy Buddy under threat
Tasman School's popular Muddy Buddy fundraiser may be under threat for next year if council concerns translate into action, but it will be allowed to run without a resource consent for the time being.
Tasman District Council resource scientist Trevor James told the council yesterday the Muddy Buddy fun run had adverse effects on the Moutere Inlet, saying it should be prohibited or require a resource consent.
A record 1400 people took part in the last Muddy Buddy event in March. They started at Tasman School before running through an orchard and down a streambed for around 300m until they hit the estuary. From there, they slogged their way through 150m of saltmarsh and 550m of mudflats, repeating the 1.5km course up to three times.
It raised around $12,000, and has sparked similar events held in the estuary at Monaco and at Havelock School.
Mr James said a report into the event carried out by contractors Wriggle Coastal Management said Muddy Buddy had a significant adverse effect on the saltmarsh, and an adverse effect on the mudflats as well. The mudflats had almost completely recovered within six months, but the report said the saltmash was beginning to show signs of recovery by then.
Evidence of the Muddy Buddy event could be seen on the saltmarsh a year after the last event.
Mr James said Tasman School had done its own investigation into the Moutere Inlet's condition for a Cawthron Science and Technology Fair project. Their findings were "very similar" to Wriggle's.
He acknowledged the importance of the event for the community, but said there had been concerns raised by local iwi, the Ornithological Society, the Department of Conservation and others. He said the event should require a resource consent as it was not permitted under the Tasman Resource Management Plan, saying staff had concluded that the current location of the event meant it was unlikely to be granted consent.
"I want us to work together with the school to work out a way to further reduce the impacts of the event and keep it going."
Deputy mayor Tim King objected to the need for a consent, saying this would create "a whole lot of problems" in a financial sense. He disputed that the Muddy Buddy run fell under prohibited behaviour, saying there was nothing in the rulebooks about "having fun or enjoying oneself".
Councillors Judene Edgar, Jack Inglis and Trevor Norriss agreed, raising concerns about over-regulation of recreational activities.
Environment information officer Rob Smith said he recognised changing the rules could come across as "us being killjoys" but Muddy Buddy was increasingly popular. "We would love to turn a blind eye on it but unfortunately it's getting to a point where it is quite a big event now."
He suggested the course be changed to avoid the saltmarsh and the stream.
Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne said he did not support the move that Muddy Buddy require a resource consent but thought the environmental effect needed to be addressed. The council supported a move that it would work with the school on the issues around the event, and if this did not work it would revisit the idea of a resource consent.
Principal Pip Wells, who attended the meeting, said she was relieved the school would not be immediately required to seek consent, saying it would do so if necessary but the process would be a "huge push" in terms of both time and financial outlay.
"We're pretty passionate about our Muddy Buddy because we've developed the whole thing ourselves and it fits in with the school ethos of being active and having fun and being involved with the community."
She said it was "absolutely critical" to the school's financial success as it was their major fundraiser each year. She looked forward to working with the Department of Conservation and the council to reduce its impact on the estuary.
- © Fairfax NZ News