Dust policy adopted

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A Dust Suppression Sealing Policy has been has been accepted by the Waimate District Council, but may not be adopted without recommended changes.

The policy was discussed at the council’s meeting yesterday, with councillors split over whether it is the best way to tackle the issue.

Dust from unsealed roads could cause issues such as eye irritations, respiratory problems, roof water-supply contamination, stress and appliance damage.

A report from council roading manager Dan Mitchell said the recently received inquiries about dust suppression. Road sealing had been completed in the past to help alleviate issues.

The council does not have a clearly defined policy on dust suppression, which Mr Mitchell said was problematic.

The policy is based around sealing short lengths of unsealed roads, 200 metres or under, which the council believes is the most cost-effective solution in the short to medium term.

The policy proposes the council contribute 50% of the cost of sealing up to 200m, with the remainder to be paid by the affected property owner.

However, council chief executive Bede Carran said if sealing was done over 200m or more, property owners would have to pay the whole amount.

A sliding scale was considered, but the council believed it would increase the risk of unintended consequences, such as safety concerns influencing length of sealing and administration work.

Under the policy, sealing priority would be measured after safety concerns, road proximity to a property, traffic volumes, speeds and make-up, land use, prevailing wind and other factors were considered.

Other contributing factors would be the geometry of the road, with sealing unable to be stopped in the middle of a bend or close to an intersection near the end of another sealed section.

Councillor Sheila Paul was critical of the policy and said it did not go far enough to fully explain issues.

“I think it’s too brief, it’s not covering all aspects. There’s nothing about temporary relief.

“I have concerns about all of this … if the dust is affecting the [property owner’s] neighbours, the property owner has to bear the cost. I don’t think ratepayers should be charged for [sealing] a public road.”

Cr Peter McIlraith argued the sliding scale would not increase the likelihood of unintended consequences and was also concerned about ongoing costs.

The council moved that the report be accepted. All were in favour of this, with the exception of Cr Stuart Thompson.

It also moved adopt the policy subject to any changes recommended by council, which was opposed by Mrs Paul.

By Daniel Birchfield