The Press

Angry residents plead with council for action

- Tina Law tina.law@stuff.co.nz

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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