A GROUP of Southland district councillors have urged staff to speed up the dust suppression fix in the region due to the potential health risk for its ratepayers.
At a Southland District Council (SDC) services and assets committee meeting this week, council approved a subsidy programme to address the issue where a ratepayer who wants a 150m semi-permanent road seal would pay $8000 with the rest of the amount to be funded by council and the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
The programme was established after ratepayers brought the issue of dust nuisance to this year’s long-term plan (LTP) hearings as Environment Southland (ES) decided to effectively eliminate oils as an option to mitigate the problem of dust suppression.
In August, SDC approved $100,000 as part of its LTP and later had confirmation of a total budget approval from Waka Kotahi of nearly $950,000 during the next three years to address the issue.
At the meeting, SDC strategic manager transport Hartley Hare said residents could apply for the programme by the end of July each year.
Locations would then be prioritised on a risk criteria based on 12 factors which included traffic (number of cars, trucks and speed), receptors (houses, schools, marae, etc) and site characteristics (location of roadway, logging routes, etc.)
“Once the prioritisation is completed, applicants will be contacted and advised if they have made the priority list or not.
“Those who have made the list for the season will then be required to pay a deposit. For those applicants who did not make the prioritised list, they will be given the option to fully fund the treatment or look to be reassessed the following year.”
Cr Bruce Ford showed concerns about the length of time and asked staff to speed up the process.
If he was in the position of ratepayers, suffering health issues and contaminated water supplies, he would probably break the law to avoid people going to the hospital or having breathing problems.
“I believe it should be delivered as soon as possible and, really, if I was in this position with that contamination, I would spray with oil and break the rules.”
Chairman Ebel Kremer cautioned him saying he would be breaking a New Zealand rule and he should be careful when making those kinds of statements.
Cr Paul Duff said he would prefer to not see the process of implementation rushed as he would prefer to have a bit more time to get things right as it was a very complex issue.
Cr John Douglas asked if SDC was exploring viable alternatives to suppress dust and group manager services and assets Matt Russell said the proposed OTTA seal was the most cost effective.
He said other trials had been done, but the options were very limited.
After a request by councillors, Mr Russell would further engage with ES for an extension or perhaps an exemption of application for oil to mitigate the process. His feedback and the outcome approved by councillors would return to the council table on October 27 for confirmation.