District acts on road-dust nuisance

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 13:27 19/12/2013

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The Marlborough District Council will continue to pay for a water tanker to keep dust down on the Waikakaho Valley Rd over summer.

Waikakaho Valley residents lobbied the council, including calling mayor Alistair Sowman to an urgent meeting last week, because large clouds of dust thrown up by logging and gravel trucks were affecting their health and quality of life.

Resident Kelly Hewson said 17 trucks had gone up the road in an hour last Thursday, raising "extreme" dust clouds which were bad for residents and for drivers on the road.

Public health, roading, forestry and council representatives met on Tuesday to consider the issue.

Wairau Awatere councillor and assets and services committee deputy chairman Geoff Evans said a water tanker had been taken into the Waikakaho Valley to dampen the dust and this would continue over summer at the peak times of logging and gravel truck movements.

Extending the sealed road was expensive, Mr Evans said. It was unaffordable to seal all 700 kilometres of unsealed roads in rural Marlborough and even targeting all 66km of unsealed roads that had been the subject of dust complaints was too much for the council's budget, he said.

However, he and fellow councillor Cynthia Brooks had visited the Waikakaho Valley residents and understood the extent of the problem there, Mr Evans said.

"We have to face up to the fact that there are decades of logging to be done around Marlborough so we need to look not only at surface treatments but at the larger issue of land-use planning.

"What we face here is the clash between residential requirements and rural activity; it's a planning issue which arises when there is increased residential use in a rural environment."

The council would continue to provide a water tanker during the forestry operations further up the valley. The harvesting would stop at the end of this week until January 8.

The council was establishing the worst problem areas, Mr Evans said.

Other parts of the country, particularly Northland and the East Coast had similar problems with their hot, dry climates and long country roads, he said.

Marlborough Roads was seeking information from these areas and how the conditions were handled in Australia.

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- The Marlborough Express

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