Board investigates container ship ‘silencers’


Local walkways, the crumbling state of the Sims building, and the ongoing work to mitigate the noise from Rio-class ships at Port Chalmers were among the topics discussed at last week’s West Harbour Community Board meeting.

Local resident Stu Debenham spoke at the public forum, re-stating a previous request for maintenance and improved lighting on the walkway from the police station to Currie St.

Mr Debenham was informed that directions for the work to be done had been given to a contractor.

Public forum speaker Bill Brown expressed disappointment in delays by the Dunedin City Council in repairing the roof of the Sims building.

This put “valuable industrial and maritime history” at risk, he said.

Community board deputy chairman Trevor Johnson also expressed concern about the building as winter was approaching.

“If it is going to be saved, they need to get on with it,” he said.

In her report as board representative on the Port Environment Liaison Committee, Ange McErlane shared details of ongoing efforts by Port Otago to mitigate the noise of the Rio-class refrigerated container ships.

This had included changing the ships’ window for visiting the port from two nights down to one, working with noise consultants and liaising with Maersk on its investigations of retrofitting “silencers” to the ships.

In relation to Port Otago and the Rio-class ships, Cr Aaron Hawkins put forward a motion that the West Harbour Community Board recognise the vital role of Port Otago and acknowledge the noise issues.

In the motion, the board would also commit to working with Port Otago, local and central government to mitigate the effects of the noise in the short term, and to develop a longer term strategy for powering container ships in a manner that “significantly reduces both their environmental and amenity impacts”.

In a split vote, the motion was passed with Cr Hawkins, Ms Griffin, Mr Jones, and Mr Walker in favour, and Mr Johnson and Ms McErlane against.

Board members Ryan Jones and Francisca Griffin reported on their experiences at the “very successful” community boards conference, held last month in New Plymouth.

An application from Port Chalmers Kindergarten for funding towards its eco warriors programme at Orokonui Ecosanctuary was declined, Mr Walker standing aside due to a conflict of interest.

In his chairman’s report, Mr Walker discussed progress on the West Harbour cycleway-walkway.

Cr Hawkins reported on council activities, including the annual plan hearings, the recent housing summit, and upcoming work concerning the performing arts, the city’s waste collection system, and designs for the development of George St in Dunedin.

The public was then excluded from the meeting to allow the board to discuss the recipients of its upcoming community awards.