Turf war erupts at football field

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - SAMHEWAT

A turf war has erupted be­tween an Eller­slie football club and a neigh­bour­ing res­i­dent.

David Shen, whose house bor­ders Michaels Ave Re­serve, has started a cam­paign to stop crumb rub­ber be­ing used in ar­ti­fi­cial sports fields.

Crumb rub­ber is re­cy­cled rub­ber pro­duced from car and truck tyres.

Shen claims crumb rub­ber poses a health risk to users, and has hung ban­ners from his prop­erty fence and put fliers in let­ter­boxes warn­ing res­i­dents of its dan­gers.

He took his case to Par­lia­ment with a pe­ti­tion, and spent eight days in the En­vi­ron­ment Court to get the field re­moved.

How­ever, Eller­slie AFC, which is based at Michaels Ave Re­serve, said Shen was scare­mon­ger­ing par­ents and res­i­dents.

‘‘With cur­rent ev­i­dence, there’s noth­ing to sug­gest us­ing these fields in­creases health risks,’’ Eller­slie AFC com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Tim Adams said.

‘‘He’s try­ing to scare­mon­ger. He’s us­ing ex­am­ples from over­seas that have been dis­proven and he’s tar­get­ing morn­ing games on Satur­day when there are a lot of kids.’’

The real prob­lem was with Auck­land Coun­cil, which had failed to ad­dress Shen’s ac­cu­sa­tions and con­cerns, he said.

‘‘We’re just a user of a coun­cil field. If it is true, we don’t want our play­ers to be ex­posed to that any­way, so we want the coun­cil to step up and ac­tu­ally re­spond to the guys claims.’’

In 2013, Auck­land Coun­cil sought in­de­pen­dent test­ing be­cause no New Zealand stud­ies on crumb rub­ber used as in­fill ex­isted.

It fol­lowed this up with a twoyear wa­ter and air qual­ity re­search pro­ject, which both passed in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

Auck­land Coun­cil’s sports parks ad­vi­sor Grant Jen­nings said it was aware of Shen’s protest but as­sured users the fields were safe.

‘‘Since re­search has in­di­cated the rub­ber does not pose a threat to health, safety or the en­vi­ron­ment, we there­fore can­not jus­tify the cost to re­move the rub­ber in­fill.’’

In re­sponse, coun­cil will send an in­for­ma­tion pack to the club with the re­search de­tails on the in­fill prod­uct to dis­si­pate fears be­ing raised by the ban­ners.

Shen did not re­spond re­quests to be in­ter­viewed. to

SAM HEWAT/FAIRFAX NZ

Michaels Ave Re­serve ar­ti­fi­cial turf was built in 2012.

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