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Friday 24 July, 2020
The Council will next week begin work to enhance safety and protect biodiversity values at Ashton Beach, with investigations underway on developing a new area for motorbike riders.
The Council-owned donga (steep-sided gully) at Ashton Beach had been used as a motorbike track for several years, but significant health and safety risks have forced the Council to begin fencing off the area and restrict access to the donga. The new fencing will start going up on Monday 27 July.
In addition to the immediate safety risks, the area also boasts important biodiversity values that the fencing will help to protect and enhance. This includes Silver Tussock and Muehlenbeckia Ephedroides vegetation, as well as Southern Grass Skink that are classified nationally as 'at risk'.
After community consultation in early 2020 on possible options for the area, the Council voted in June to fence the whole donga and investigate an alternative hill-riding area for motorbikes.
Council People & Capability Manager Sarah Mosley says the beach has been a valued recreational area for the community, but the risk to peoples' safety is too great to ignore.
"The topography of the donga is eroding in areas and is particularly dangerous for motorbike riders. As the landowners, choosing to do nothing about those risks was simply not an option for Council.
"Working with the key stakeholders and obtaining their input into the feasibility stage will continue to be beneficial for this project."
In addition to the alternate motorbike area, the Council and Environment Canterbury are both looking at ways to enhance the unique area and its usage.
"It's a beautiful part of Mid Canterbury and is valued by many residents. We'd like to see our community have the opportunity to safely enjoy the area for many years to come," Ms Mosley adds.