A company developing this Ravensbourne site is awaiting a
Dunedin City Council decision on soil testing. Photo by
A company developing a small Ravensbourne site is
awaiting a decision from the Dunedin City Council on whether it
will continue to require soil testing on the site before the
project can go ahead.
Streets and Avenues Ltd said based on its initial research,
it was confident the site was unlikely to be contaminated.
The requirement for testing, which would cost thousands of
dollars, was unreasonable given it was a small development,
The company was granted consent in January to reduce a
Ravensbourne Rd property from three sections to two, to make
the sites better shapes on which to build. However, the
consent came with a condition that a detailed site
investigation be undertaken for soil contaminants because the
site is across the road from the Ravensdown fertiliser works
and the council was concerned about possible airborne
The company objected to the condition. Several other concerns
related to the consent are almost resolved.
A hearings committee of Crs Andrew Noone, Kate Wilson and
David Benson-Pope heard the company's arguments recently.
Kurt Bowen, the consultant for Streets and Avenues, told the
committee preliminary research indicated little likelihood
the site, which is about 100m from the plant, would be on the
hazardous activities and industries list (Hail).
A records search indicated no industrial activity had taken
place on the site.
An Otago Regional Council consenting officer also said the
fertiliser plant was monitored and no issues with
contaminated discharge had been identified in the past 10
It was unlikely any earlier contamination was in such
quantity that it would still exist at harmful levels, Mr
The contaminant from the plant identified as a possible
concern, ambient fluoride, was not a risk to human health at
the levels previously recorded on the development site
between 2004 and 2006 and it had since been controlled in
such a manner so as not to contaminate the site.
Mr Bowen suggested the site did not meet the requirements for
the relevant national environmental standard to be applied,
and that the council's approach was therefore too
conservative. He asked the committee to use its discretion to
drop the condition.
Council staff told councillors without a preliminary site
investigation being done, they could not be convinced the
site was free from contamination.
Planner Amy Young said based on the known spread of air
discharge across the site and legal advice sought by the
council, it was considered appropriate to issue the
conditions as they were to give any new owners of the newly
developed sites some certainty the soil was safe for
residential use. Councillors said the objection did raise
general questions about whether any new owners should be
worried they might one day discover their property was
Staff said they were in the process of identifying Hail sites
around the city, but it was a difficult task given the lack
Asked what areas in the city might have a question mark over
them, senior planner John Yule said the main sites likely to
be affected would be former industrial sites.
At the moment, the only situations triggering a soil test
were where someone applied for consents for subdivision,
change of use or earthworks.
In the absence of one of those triggers, no conditions for
soil testing were applied, although that might change as more
data became available.
As sites were identified, the information would be overlaid
on the council's maps and added to other information about
properties, such as Lims.
At this stage, the issue arose only occasionally.
''The issue is that no-one knows and until we know, we need
to be requiring that it is checked out.''