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Sorting the dust . . . Gore District Council senior road ing operations officer Murray Hasler says the owners of this rural house, that is sited 50m from a shingle road, could be eligible to share the cost of sealing 100m of the road outside the house with the council. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

As the owner of many unsealed roads in the Gore district, the council is about to do its bit to make sure the dust stays settled.

At a meeting last week, councillors approved $30,000 be provided in the annual roading budget to help with the cost of sealing dusty roads outside residents’ houses.

The recommendation was part of a report presented by senior roading operations officer Murray Hasler.

In his report, Mr Hasler said clouds of dust which rose from unsealed roads had always been a nuisance for home owners nearby.

“Recent research indicates that in addition to being annoying, road dust can be a significant health hazard to humans and animals.

“This has become an increasingly hot topic among rural residents around the country and it has raised the issue of the liability of the road controlling authorities.”

Until recently, home owners living on unsealed roads could spread waste oil on the road to suppress the dust if they applied to the council.

“The Environment Southland proposed Southland water and land plan (2018) effectively stopped the use of waste oil for dust suppression on unsealed roads throughout the region.”

Councils throughout the country recognised they had some responsibility to help solve the problem of dust and provided assistance to homeowners, he said.

Mr Hasler recommended the council arrange for the construction of a 100m long dust seal on the section of road alongside houses and contribute 50% of the $12,000 cost.

The property owner would pay the balance.

“It is suggested that construction of five dust seals per year be budgeted for.”

This recommendation would form the council’s new dust suppression policy.

Criteria, including that the house must be occupied and be positioned within 50m of the road, would need to be met.

It was not known how many properties were affected by dust but from 2014 to 2020, 36 home owners applied to the council to apply waste oil to roads outside their property.

“Many of these repeated their application on an annual basis.”

Funding assistance for the council’s share of the seal could be recouped from the NZ Transport Authority and therefore would not require ratepayer input.

Before Mr Hasler’s recommendation was approved, Mayor Tracy Hicks said the proposed policy was a move in the right direction.

“I have been to a number of addresses where there has been issues and people are at their wits end to try to deal with it.”

After the meeting, Mr Hasler said sealing the road would be a one-off cost to the home owner and the council would foot the bill for ongoing maintenance and resealing.

“Medium to long term it’s a much better option for the property owners,” he said.