Rail noise within dis­trict plan lim­its

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By PETRICE TAR­RANT

A Wil­liams

Toko­roa elec­tion, and this has been my ‘grump’ for a long time.

I have long been of the opin­ion that politi­cians (lo­cal, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional) can­not be trusted to tell us the truth. They be­come de­void of common sense and quickly lose sight of what their role is. Most of them th­ese days are ca­reer politi­cians and have very lit­tle idea about what hap­pens out in the real world.

I sug­gest that peo­ple should not be al­lowed to stand as an MP un­til they have had at least 20 years ex­pe­ri­ence out in main­stream liv­ing. So much for democ­racy! Raewyn Habergham

Pu­taruru News that Toko­roa’s im­pend­ing rail sid­ing will be com­pli­ant with dis­trict plan noise lev­els comes as lit­tle con­so­la­tion to frus­trated neigh­bours against the de­vel­op­ment.

The $2.5 mil­lion ven­ture, which has been dis­cussed for the past eight months, will al­low di­rect road-rail con­tainer load­ing and un­load­ing, mak­ing Toko­roa a key dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre.

Con­cerns about noise lev­els were raised by neigh­bours such as Liz Peni whose home ad­joins the in­dus­trial zone where the de­vel­op­ment will be hap­pen­ing.

South Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive Ben Smit said an in­de­pen­dent noise con­sul­tant was hired as a re­sult to as­sess cur­rent, and pre­dict fu­ture, noise lev­els.

‘‘The out­come is pleas­ing, how­ever we ac­knowl­edge that some neigh­bours con­tinue to have reser­va­tions,’’ Smit said. ‘‘ The re­sults show that the noise lev­els at nearby houses and in­dus­trial zoned land will com­ply with the dis­trict plan noise lim­its.’’

The coun­cil and RJ Lin­coln will be putting a noise man­age­ment plan in place de­tail­ing mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures in­clud­ing in­stalling fork­lifts with smart de­vices in­stead of the tra­di­tional beep­ing when in re­verse, ad­di­tional or sec­ondary muf­flers in­stalled on the large con­tainer load­ing fork­lift and en­sur­ing re­frig­er­ated con­tainer units will not be stored near the neigh­bour­ing res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties.

Peni said she found it hard to see how they had pre­dicted fu­ture noise lev­els.

‘‘You re­ally can’t mea­sure those sorts of things un­til after it’s built ... How can you have a per­son who de­tects noise when there’s no noise apart from one build­ing at the mo­ment.’’

She said it felt as if the neigh­bours were an ‘‘af­ter­thought’’.

‘‘It’s just that you know they are just not lis­ten­ing to us, they are just show­ing what they’re do­ing on their side of the fence.

The hours of op­er­a­tion will be within the ‘‘day­time’’ pe­riod of 7am to 10pm, in ac­cor­dance with the dis­trict plan.

But Peni said that could hardly be con­sid­ered day­time.

‘‘Gee that’s a bit late for day­light hours. I thought day­light hours were from dawn till dark.

‘‘There again, it might not seem long for them and they said they only run till about 8pm but they still have that op­tion to run till 10pm and that doesn’t leave us with much pri­vacy for the rest of the day so we can en­joy our homes and our fam­i­lies.’’

She said com­ing to terms with the im­pact the de­vel­op­ment will have on their lives had been huge.

‘‘We’re not against de­vel­op­ing but this is quite an emo­tional trip for most of the ones [liv­ing] along the rail­way.

‘‘I said it’s good that we’re get­ting progress, just at least think about how we feel.’’

Part of the noise mit­i­ga­tion plan will in­clude ap­point­ing a noise li­ai­son of­fi­cer at RJ Lin­coln to es­tab­lish a com­plaints sys­tem within the coun­cil and en­force noise lim­i­ta­tions through ex­ist­ing noise mon­i­tor­ing staff and re­view­ing pro­ce­dures within the first year of op­er­a­tions.

Other mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures like cre­at­ing berms of dirt, plant­ing trees and build­ing fences were in­ves­ti­gated, but none of them would have cre­ated a noise bar­rier with­out be­ing ex­tremely high which in turn would re­sult in both un­rea­son­able aes­thet­ics and blocked sun­light.

‘‘The re­al­ity is that the de­vel­op­ment will not re­sult in a dra­matic in­crease in ac­tiv­ity and vol­umes,’’ Gavin O’Donoghue of RJ Lin­coln said.

‘‘Our op­er­a­tions cur­rently run from 7am to around 6pm; on the odd oc­ca­sion to 8pm, but only very rarely. Be­cause the new op­er­a­tion will be smoother and more ef­fi­cient, in all like­li­hood, the hours of op­er­a­tion will ac­tu­ally de­crease.’’

Earth­works are ex­pected to start Christ­mas.

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