Concern over Port Chalmers pile work

Kevin Winders.
Kevin Winders.
Port Chalmers residents appear to be taking a wait-and-see approach to the nine months of pile-driving due to start soon as Port Otago extends one of its wharves.

Those spoken to said the port’s efforts to keep people informed about what was happening were important, but there was concern about how the noise would affect residents.

The township is in for a noisy nine months of hammering from next month when 138 30m-long concrete-filled steel piles are installed to extend the multipurpose wharf.

Each pile will take about a day to install as it is driven into the seabed during the $15 million extension to accommodate the new generation of larger ships.

Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders said last week the work that would take place between 7am and 7pm on weekdays would be noisy.

No piling work would be done on weekends or statutory holidays.

West Harbour Community Board chairman Steve Walker said the extension had been ‘‘in the wind for a long, long time’’.

‘‘It was just a matter of when.’’

While the beginning of the work was no surprise, he expected he spoke for everybody in the community when he said: ‘‘I hope the nine months goes rather quickly’’.

‘‘It’s going to be noisy.’’

Mr Walker said he wanted to be assured by Mr Winders the community would be informed about how the work would affect residents, and how long it would take, but he was encouraged by Mr Winder’s actions so far.

‘‘He seems very, very keen to communicate what’s happening, and I hope he’s true to his word he wants Port Otago to be a good community neighbour.

‘‘I’m certainly prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.’’

Carey’s Bay Historic Hotel owner Jo Kidston said she was concerned about the effect of the noise on her business.

It would be ‘‘great’’ if it could be mitigated.

Ms Kidston said she was pleased the work would not be done before 7am or after 7pm, or on weekends, which was when the hotel was busiest.

‘‘We’re just wondering what it’s going to mean for our summer trade, because depending on the summer, a lot of people sit outside.’’

That included cruise ship passengers, she said.

‘‘Hopefully it doesn’t keep people away; it’s just a wait and see.’’

She did not want to get ‘‘over-wrought about the whole thing’’.

‘‘If it comes to the point we’re seeing it’s really, really bad, then it would be good to know there may be some strategy there to mitigate things.’’

Community board member Ange McErlane, who has been the board’s representative on a liaison committee with Port Otago since December, and has held the role in the past, said different parts of the area experienced noise from the port differently.

It also depended on the wind direction.

Ms McErlane said it helped that Port Otago told the community about the work, what days it would be done and what the operating hours would be.

When piling had been done in the past, ‘‘the more information they gave people the less likely people were to wonder what was going on’’.

‘‘They knew, and they knew what to expect.’’

Ms McErlane said until the pile work started it would not be known what the impact of the noise would be.

A webcam Port Otago was installing would also help people see what was going on.

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