Spe­cial­ists to clear the air

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Heather McCracken

A PRI­MARY school af­fected by the pro­posed Waterview tun­nel will be given ex­pert help to dis­pute air qual­ity find­ings.

The of­fer comes af­ter trans­port bosses ad­mit­ted Waterview Pri­mary School’s board of trustees had iden­ti­fied gaps in a re­port writ­ten by ex­pert con­sul­tants.

New Zealand Trans­port Agency chair­man Brian Roche said at a meet­ing on Wed­nes­day the is­sues raised would be ad­dressed straight away.

“We’ll then con­sider how best to equip you with the tech­ni­cal ad­vice you need to hold us to ac­count,” he said.

The agency’s board agreed to de­fer a de­ci­sion on lodg­ing a no­tice of des­ig­na­tion for the $1.89 bil­lion mo­tor­way tun­nel.

Mr Roche said it didn’t yet have the con­fi­dence of the com­mu­nity. But the agency will keep work­ing to­wards lodg­ing the no­tice for the tun­nel route be­tween Mt Roskill and Waterview.

Waterview Pri­mary trustees Rob Black and Justin Newcombe spoke at the meet­ing, held in Auck­land.

Mr Black said the school had se­ri­ous con­cerns with the air qual­ity re­port re­leased last month.

It showed air qual­ity would be the same or slightly bet­ter at the most sen­si­tive sites around the air vents, be­cause the tun­nel would re­move traf­fic from lo­cal roads.

Un­fil­tered air from the tun­nels would be re­leased through vents at each end, which could be up to 25 me­tres high.

But Mr Black said the re­port didn’t con­sider the im­pact of tolling, which could add more traf­fic to sur­face roads.

And there wasn’t enough con­sid­er­a­tion given to in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice on air fil­ter­ing.

“We have a big con­cern for our com­mu­nity and for our chil­dren,” he said.

Mr Newcombe said the re­port didn’t ac­count for ven­ti­la­tion fans be­ing turned off dur­ing off-peak times, al­low­ing emis­sions to es­cape through the tun­nel open­ings, or por­tals.

He also asked the board to re­con­sider tak­ing a sec­tion of the school’s play­ing field for use dur­ing the five-year construction pe­riod.

“Five years is a long time and it’s tak­ing away a huge part of our field,” he said.

The board’s air qual­ity ex­pert agreed air pol­lu­tion from the por­tals hadn’t been ad­dressed in the re­port.

But mem­ber Mike Wil­liams said the agency needed to con­sider the high cost of fil­ter­ing tun­nel emis­sions.

“If you took a tenth of that cost and retro­fit­ted all the buses in Auck­land that would have a much greater ben­e­fit,” he said.

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