Trucks cause dust-up

Waikakaho Valley residents angry at the clouds of dust raised by logging trucks on their road summoned Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman to deal with the problem.

Resident Kelly Hewson said the neighbours were so outraged that they were threatening to block the road to stop the trucks from operating.

Instead, fellow resident and former district councillor Pat O'Sullivan called Mayor Sowman to his house urgently yesterday.

Mr Sowman told a council meeting yesterday afternoon that he arrived to find a residents' meeting in place.

He arranged a water truck to dampen the road and reduce the dust until a more permanent solution could be sorted.

"There are 17 truck movements an hour there at the moment and we need to find a solution. [The] council is going to give it some urgency."

It was inappropriate to discuss the matter further in public, Mr Sowman said. However, he told councillors that he would raise the issue again in committee.

Council acting chief executive Mark Wheeler said a meeting to look at the dust raised by forestry trucks, particularly in the Waikakaho Valley, would be held on Tuesday.

It would include representatives from the council, public health, the New Zealand Transport Agency, Marlborough Roads and the logging industry

Mr Hewson said Mr Sowman told him the water tanker would stay "until it was told otherwise".

As well as people working in paddocks covered with dust, Mr Hewson said there was a safety issue. People's car were covered by an "extreme" dust cloud when they were passed by the trucks.

"You have to stop, you can't see."

A report to the assets and services committee said there was no easy, inexpensive solution to mitigate the dust nuisance.

Other methods tried included the spreading of crushed mussel shells, asphalt millings and waste oil. These had varying success but ‘were not a permanent solution'.

Marlborough Roads staff received complaints about dust nuisance every summer caused by traffic on unsealed roads, the report added.

"These complaints have intensified over the past couple of years in particular from the Waikakaho Valley where logging has commenced. The Waikakaho Valley residents have become quite vocal over the past few months and have initiated discussions with the district health board in regard to health issues associated with dust."

The affected Waikakaho Valley Rd section is 3.5 kilometres long. The council says it has 66km of roads where dust complaints have been received. Its report said a water tanker twice a day would cost $75 a kilometre.

The Marlborough Express