Major West Auckland construction site worries residents

A construction site in West Auckland has caused health concerns among residents.

The 9.2 hectare development site, situated on Moire Road, has perturbed residents with the noise generated by earthworks and left them concerned about asbestos removal.

Resident Nick Clapham, who lives close to the site, says the work has been "rattling" his house everyday from around 8am to 4.30pm.

A builder himself, Clapham says he has kept his children from playing outside, after he found there was asbestos removal going on at the site.

Clapman says he felt the barrier fencing was insufficient and had not seen any water trucks spraying to mitigate dust.

Another resident in the area, Grant Fraser, says the development has caused him to consider moving.

He has been disturbed by the earthworks, which at first caused him to think there was "an earthquake", and he also worried that surrounding residents had not been notified about the asbestos removal.

"I felt it was probably inappropriate that no signage had been put up, none of the local residents had been informed. There's plenty of dust flying off that site, you know, over people's houses," he says.

Fraser says the work started around mid-January, and says dry, windy summer days have generated "a lot of dust and noise" and he worried about it going into the nearby playing field as well.

He also says once during windy weather, he saw the dust screens had blown over.

Fletcher Living is developing the site for 197 new homes - a mix of stand-alone, terrace and duplex homes.

Thirty per cent or 59 homes below the government's affordability threshold will be made available initially for social housing.

Fletcher Living chief executive residential and land development Steve Evans says the company is confident all of the asbestos removal work was undertaken in accordance with all relevant health and safety laws.

Evans explains that as part of the clearing of the land - including the remnants of the old tannery that occupied a small part of the site - some asbestos was found in the ground.

He says a licensed asbestos removal company was used and best practice was followed in terms of dust control, soil containment, barrier fencing and disposal methods.

The company works "closely" with Auckland Council and WorkSafe to ensure they operate within the conditions of their resource consent, but acknowledges they could have been more proactive in communicating this issue with neighbours, he says. 

According to WorkSafe regulations, a WorkSafe spokesperson says asbestos removalists and workplace duty holders must inform anyone occupying premises in the immediate vicinity of the intended asbestos removal work.

However, they say their view the area concerned is "not in the immediate vicinity fo any premises", as any occupied properties are across a road from the site. 

Auckland Council manager regional environmental control Marcus Hermann says the environment team investigated after receiving complaint from a member of the public about the asbestos, but was satisfied the asbestos - only found on a small area of the site - was being managed appropriately.

"There was no evidence of any risk to the public," he says.

Fletcher Living say the asbestos removal is now complete.

Aside from the removal, Evans says water carts have also been operating to reduce dust.

Enquiries had also been received by Auckland Council from nearby residents concerning noise and vibrations.

Manager compliance, resource consents Steve Pearce says the council is working with the contractor to manage the way they are working to control effects on nearby properties.

However, Fraser, whose father has suffered from asbestos-related illness - unrelated to the Moire Rd development - says he wants to see "some transparency" about what's required from contractors and from council.

The development is the first under the Government's Auckland Crown land housing development programme and was previously owned by the Ministry of Education.


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