Tony Hay – OIR No. 11 – Aftermath of major flooding event to hit Blenheim

Tony Hay made this Official Information request to Marlborough District Council

The request was refused by Marlborough District Council.

From: Tony Hay

Dear Marlborough District Council,

Please see Information posted in Tony Hay OIR No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 before proceeding.

My name is Tony Hay and I am the owner, along with my wife, of 42 Lakings Road, Springlands, Blenheim.

On Saturday, 17 July 2021 at 2.53 pm I received an Emergency alert on my Mobile phone from Marlborough Civil Defence: Renwick Lower Terrace residents are advised to EVACUATE NOW. This was followed at 4.24 pm informing Spring Creek Village residents to do the same. Then again at 5.22 pm Tuamarina residents were required to also do the same.

Flooding can have catastrophic consequences for communities and individuals. Flooding can include loss of human life, damage to property, destruction of crops, destruction of infrastructure including roads and bridges, loss of livestock and effect people’s wellbeing.

I have been campaigning for the Marlborough District Council (MDC) to take responsibility for Climate Change. Recent events should have told Council that it’s not Climate Change but Climate Threat ! It’s now a matter of how do we manage that Threat !!!

Marlborough Roads (MR) Manager, Steve Murrin on 1 News has stated that “I have been involved with this network now for 30 odd years and it’s (flooding and the destruction of roads and bridges) the worst I have ever seen.”

A number of Marlborough Lines (ML) employees have mentioned to me that there is disquiet over Marlborough Lines not pursuing the Marlborough District Council over trees on Council berm that could adversely threaten the electric power availability in Marlborough should a severe weather event take place. Their employees specifically mentioned the trees outside 42 Lakings Road as well as those on the corner of Redwood Street and Wither Road. They have also stated that they feel the MDC have been “getting away with this situation for far too long” !

Mayor John Leggett on 19th July 2021 on 1 News, stated that “We really need to make sure we have our community protected from these flood events and sometimes you have to step up and if the money needs to be spent, we need to get in and make sure that we do the right thing.” Excellent. A Major with a good social conscience to the ratepayers of Marlborough. Pity Council doesn’t also practise this !

Bearing this in mind I would have thought it logical for the Council to ensure that the Electrical Power Network in Blenheim and other Marlborough towns would survive an extreme weather event like we have just experienced with flooding but also featuring high winds bringing down trees and disrupting the power supply.
Council commented on the OIR “Tony Hay - OIR No. 10 – Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003” that Council work closely with Marlborough Lines. Sorry, Marlborough District Council I do not believe it ! Your own staff tell me the reasons why you are digging your heals in and failing to address the issues regarding trees threating the electric power substation at 42 Lakings Road is twofold, namely
1. Cost
2. Setting a precedent for addressing this issue elsewhere in the Marlborough region.
Setting a precedent ... to decide something that will be used as an example or rule to be followed in the future.

On the Marlborough District Council website, we have a section on “Emergencies in Marlborough” where it states Marlborough is at risk from natural and man-made hazards. Council not addressing their responsibilities with respect to the removal of hazardous trees threating the Marlborough electricity supply and ratepayers’ property is “man-made” since the Council has chosen to ignore their responsibility with respect to health and safety issues.

In “Tony Hay - OIR No. 1 – Climate Change” Council stated that “Severe Weather Event – Council cannot predict weather events”. This is certainly true. However, I suggest that the recent severe weather event that Marlborough has been subjected to should be a wakeup call for Council to plan for such events, and YES, as the mayor has stated, spend the money to achieve this.

I guess that Council needs to have a few deaths, injuries, destruction of property, and have their trees cause power network outages before they take notice !


What is the cost of removing the 3 trees on Council road berm at 42 Lakings Road and fixing the fence where the willow oak, pin oak, and copper beech have undermined it ?

Does Council believe that removing hazardous trees threatening the electrical power system of Marlborough is beneficial to the ratepayers and if not why not ?

Now that it should be blatantly obvious to Council after the recent flood event does Council now still regard ratepayers, as I have suggested in “”Tony Hay - OIR No. 3 – Health and Safety”, as purely “collateral” ?

Does Council accept that should Marlborough experience a severe weather event bringing down trees and electrical power cables that the electrical wires brought down will severely limit the movement around the district and is Council quite happy to accept that ?

Is Council stifling the ability of Marlborough Lines to do its job to carry out its mandate ?

What about all the ratepayers who rely on an uninterrupted supply of electricity. Are they just again purely “collateral” ?

I repeat my question from “Tony Hay - OIR No. 10 – Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003” has the Council set a death / injuries / loss of electrical power threshold at which point they will remove the trees at 42 Lakings Road ? What is this threshold ?

Yours faithfully,

Tony Hay

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From: MDC
Marlborough District Council

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Your message will be processed and forwarded to the appropriate staff
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This email address is monitored between 8.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to
Friday (excluding public holidays). If this enquiry is urgent, please call
our customer service line on 03 520 7400 which is answered 24 hours a day,
7 days a week.




Customer Services

Marlborough District Council

Phone 03 520 7400


15 Seymour Street, PO Box 443

Blenheim 7240, New Zealand

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From: Tony Quirk-8077
Marlborough District Council

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I refer to your email of 14 February and will deal with the questions at
the foot of your commentary.


 1. Cost to remove 3 trees and fix fence.  I am advised the approximate
tree removal cost would be $20,000 - $30,000.  Fence repair costs are
unknown until assessed.


 2. Removal of hazardous trees threatening electric power system
beneficial to ratepayers and if not, why not?  Council works closely
with Marlborough Lines.  That company has not indicated concern to
Council about the trees in relation to the transformer or the power
lines around 42 Lakings Road. 


 3. Ratepayers regarded as purely ‘collateral’.  We reject the presumption
in the question.  In the case of Lakings Road, a community survey was
conducted to ensure the community had input into the decision making.


 4. Severe weather event bringing down trees and electrical power cables –
impact.  The indication given is that this has not occurred to date. 
The trees in question have been routinely inspected for tree health
and risk.


 5. Impact on ability of Marlborough Lines to do its job.  Council and
Marlborough Lines work closely together on such tree issues.


 6. Reliance on an interrupted supply.  No comment since the premise is


 7. Threshold related back to OIA number 10.  Council, its arbour
consultants and Marlborough Lines accept the current management of
these trees.



Tony Quirk

District Secretary



Phone:   03 520 7400


15 Seymour Street, PO Box 443

Blenheim 7240, New Zealand

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From: Tony Hay

Dear Tony Quirk-8077,

My reply to answers by Marlborough District Council.

1. Finally. Well done. At least Council is acknowledging that the roots of the 3 trees on the berm on the south side of 42 Laking Road are undermining my fence. I have complained to Council in regards to this on 26th July 2020 as well as more recently on 5th December 2021. I have also pointed out to Council that the distance from Willow Oak to my fence is 80 cms, from Pin Oak to fence 90 cms, and from Copper Beech to fence 46 cms. To date Council has ignored my complaints and request for the removal of the offending 3 trees.

2. Surprised that Marlborough District Council takes this attitude since Council should be working in the best interests of the ratepayers of Marlborough. Marlborough Lines should NOT be expected to request Council remove any trees on their land that are threating electricity power transformers. It should be upper most in Council’s mind. This shows a total lack of responsibility by Council in addressing Health and Safety Issues.

3. As I have already stated in “Tony Hay - OIR No. 6 – Marlborough District Council survey” - that this was a biased survey. As regards (Ratepayers regarded as purely ‘collateral’) I will be having more to say on this topic. Again, Council did not answer the question.

4. This can best be descripted as a BRAINLESS comment (The indication given is that this has not occurred to date). So what Council is saying is that until we get a severe weather event bringing down trees and electrical power cables, they are not going to do anything to lessen the impact. Really ! It reinforces my thoughts that the MDC does NOT accept Climate Change for all their postering on their web site. It also does NOT accept the impact that a severe weather event would have on trees in the Marlborough region and the aftermath on the electricity power system, potential loss of life, injuries to ratepayers, property damage, live powerlines down, etc. God help us.

5. I shall be taking that up with Marlborough Lines. Regretfully I do not believe a word Council tells me.

6. Yet another BRAINLESS comment. I agree that Electricity Power Companies cannot guarantee an uninterrupted supply of power but at least everyone should go out of their way to attempt to limit power outages to a minimum and that includes taking account of the legislation covered in “Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003”.

7. And yet another side step of my question to add to all the rest ! This question not only relates to 42 Lakings Road but to numerous other potential tree hazards in Marlborough, not to mention protected trees on ratepayer’s properties. This is another area I will be addressing. This is why the status of this OIR will be “The request was refused by Marlborough District Council”

Yours sincerely,

Tony Hay

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