Kaleentha Estate residents dirty on daily dusting
RESIDENTS of Kaleentha Estate, just off New Auckland south-west of Gladstone, are fed up with dust intruding on their homes, particularly with strong winds in Gladstone this week.
Shiftworker Glenn Butcher on Tuesday said construction should be stopped.
"Days when the wind is blowing like this, there needs to be some controls," he said.
Neighbours mainly affected live in Leonie Ct, Katrina Blvd and Jackson Ct and they have flooded the Gladstone Regional Council with complaints.
On Wednesday, The Observer contacted the Gladstone Regional Council for comment on the situation.
"Council… has been aware of the issue since Friday 7 December when the first complaints were lodged," Mayor Gail Sellers said.
"We have received a total of 30 complaints from residents and receive more every day.
"Our staff have been working non-stop since the complaints have started and are assessing the problem via site visits, door knocks and discussions with the contractor onsite."
Mr Butcher's calls for construction to cease on windy days were answered yesterday.
"We are issuing an environmental protection order today to the construction company to stop work until council is satisfied they can work without causing a dust nuisance," Cr Sellers said.
"It is also stipulated that dust producing activities such as excavation works being carried out on days where wind speeds exceed 25 knots is not permitted."
Other Kaleentha Estate residents Deanna and Basil Henney have been suffering from asthma due to the dust and Mr Henney is being monitored by his wife.
"He is worse than I am, he's had it every night," Mrs Henney said.
"There's been numerous occasions I've nearly run him to hospital because of the dust."
Cr Sellers said the state Department of Environment and Heritage Protection had contacted the council's Environmental Health Team.
"The delegations under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 leave nuisance emissions such as dust up to Council… the development has a general environmental duty to not cause environmental harm on top of also complying with Planning and DA conditions," she said.
"The air quality has not been tested by council as we do not have the resources to carry this out presently. The very dry and windy conditions make working with soil extremely difficult to control."
Brendan Gore, chief executive officer of Peet Limited - Vantage Estate developers, said the company has taken action.
"Peet has increased the number of water trucks and has just approved a further two vehicles bringing the total number to eight. This is a very big fleet for a project of this size," he said.
"Unfortunately the soil is extremely dry due to the lack of rain and there have been constant strong westerly winds.
"This combination makes it difficult to prevent dust floating over the hill and down onto the houses."
Mr Gore said conditions are constantly monitored.
"On occasion, some operations have been stopped for the day," he said.
"However, we are anxious to avoid these delays as this is likely to extend the time frame and inconvenience for residents."
Cr Sellers explained the conditions developers need to follow during construction to take into account existing surrounding residents
"Planning and Operational Works issue development approvals," she said.
"These approvals stipulate conditions by which the developer must abide or can be issued infringements for non-conformances.
"Under these conditions there are provisions which cover dust control. Also under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, there is general emission criteria by which we can issue directive notices to abate environmental nuisance such as dust/odour and noise."
The Vantage Estate construction will break over Christmas and the main earthworks will finish early next year.
"Bulk earthworks are expected to be completed at the end of January. This is when the biggest volume of soil will have been moved," Mr Gore said.
"Once earthworks are completed, civil construction, including the new access road, will continue until approximately May. "
"There will be a Christmas shutdown, from Friday 21 December to Wednesday 3 January."
Peet Limited plans to enhance the buffer zone between Vantage Estate and Katrina Blvd in the future.
"The 20m buffer is existing vegetation and remnant bush. Anything inside this zone is being retained," Mr Gore said.
"When the works are completed, Peet has plans to enhance the area for example rubbish and weeds will be removed, any disturbed areas will be re-planted and drainage cleared.
"This will help reduce the water runoff which was caused when the Leonie Court/Katrina Boulevard area was developed and which has been causing problems for existing residents."
Future stages of the Vantage Estate may go ahead in 2014.
"The current works are associated with Stages 7, 8 and 9 of Vantage Estate," Mr Gore said.
"This is expected to meet market demand for new home sites generated by the rapidly expanding Gladstone population.
"There are a total of 13 stages in the estate. Stage 10 is forecast for construction in 2014, subject to market demand."
Mr Gore said the company is making every effort to finish the work as quickly as possible.
"We are doing everything we can to minimise dust and to keep the program moving. However, we sincerely thank residents for their patience during this difficult period."
"The Gladstone community is desperately in need of new homes for the big influx of people who have been attracted here by unprecedented levels of industrial growth.
"We are working hard at Vantage to deliver a neighbourhood we can all be proud of and to keep home prices at levels that real families can afford."
- Residents who have concerns are encouraged to contact the Peet Community Information Line on email@example.com or (free call) 1800 819 912.
- Dust in Kaleetha Facebook group