Specialists to clear the air
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.