The Press

An­gry res­i­dents plead with coun­cil for ac­tion

- Tina Law tina.law@stuff.co.nz Christchurch · Bromley · Michael K. Williams

Fed up and frus­trated Christchur­ch res­i­dents have pleaded with the city coun­cil to get rid of a smelly com­post plant they say is ‘‘slowly killing’’ them.

Brom­ley res­i­dents have been com­plain­ing to the Christchur­ch City Coun­cil about the ‘‘vile and pu­trid’’ smells and dust coming the plant, owned by the coun­cil and run by Liv­ing Earth, for 11 years.

Anger spilled out into the coun­cil cham­ber yes­ter­day when res­i­dents called on the coun­cil to move the plant to a ru­ral area away from homes. Four res­i­dents spoke at the coun­cil meet­ing and another five sub­mit­ted writ­ten state­ments.

The res­i­dents have lit­tle faith that a pro­posed $17.5 mil­lion up­grade of the plant will make any dif­fer­ence to the odour.

The coun­cil is con­sid­er­ing re­duc­ing the amount of out­door area where com­post ma­tures from 30,000 square me­tres to 2000sqm, and in­creas­ing the ca­pac­ity of aer­a­tion sys­tems used for the com­post. If the­mea­sures fail to con­trol the odour, the com­post­ing area could be en­closed at an ex­tra cost of $4m.

Coun­cil three wa­ters and­waste head He­len Beau­mont said she was con­fi­dent the work would sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the smell, but it was un­likely to com­pletely re­move all odour.

The city coun­cil tried to stop the bad smells this year, but the mea­sures did not seem to work.

Ellen King, who has lived in Brom­ley for 19 years, said res­i­dents felt ‘‘frus­trated, trau­ma­tised, an­gry and vic­timised’’.

‘‘There is no odour can­celling de­vice avail­able to us and stop­ping breath­ing through our nose or mouth is not an op­tion.’’

She said the coun­cil’s lack of ac­tion re­in­forced the feel­ing that any­one who lived in the east was con­sid­ered a ‘‘sec­ond-class cit­i­zen’’.

‘‘I am re­ally tired of be­ing a vic­tim in this sit­u­a­tion. I don’t want to feel anx­ious ev­ery time I open a door to the out­side, won­der­ing if I am go­ing to be ac­costed by the foul odour yet again.’’

Long-time Brom­ley res­i­dent Ge­of­frey King said at times in sum­mer, the odour was so bad he would go to the beach and sleep in his car.

‘‘This is what you are do­ing to us. You are slowly killing us and it’s not hu­mane to be liv­ing like this,’’ he said of the coun­cil.

Michael Wil­liams, who has lived in the area for six months, said free­dom to breathe un­con­tam­i­nated air was a ba­sic hu­man right, but that right had been taken away from him and his neigh­bours.

He said res­i­dents should be able to plan a sim­ple bar­be­cue with­out wor­ry­ing about the ‘‘dread­ful smell’’.

The res­i­dents wanted the coun­cil to move the plant to a ru­ral area away from homes, but Beau­mont said that would only shift the prob­lem. The coun­cil’s aim was to re­duce both the odour and the dust from the site, so it was not of­fen­sive.

Any move would cost more than $70m.

The coun­cil de­ferred mak­ing a de­ci­sion on the up­grade un­til De­cem­ber 9, so it could hold a pub­lic in­for­ma­tion ses­sion on its plan and take res­i­dents on a tour of the plant.

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