Ross resident opposed to mine gets lawyer

A property owner in Ross has engaged a lawyer as a controversial new goldmine close to houses in the small town heads to a hearing.

The 2ha site being eyed by Birchfields Ross Mining - a mainstay mining company in the area - is zoned rural, but is residential in nature.

The current mining application is the third to come before the West Coast Regional Council and is set down for a hearing early next month.

A staff report says the mining activity could come to about 20 metres from some houses in Gay St.

However, noise and amenity concerns could be mitigated by conditions.

A noise report concludes that the nearest properties will not experience noise above what is permitted in the district plan.

However, Gay St property owner Stuart Brown, who has engaged a lawyer for the fight, said the 55 decibels limit was recognised by the World Health Organisation as "serious annoyance".

A proposed three-metre earth bund would be "entirely ineffective" due to the size of the earthmoving machinery proposed.

"I have the right to quiet enjoyment of my home. While I accept that that right is not absolute, I consider that the applicant's proposed mining operations, on my immediate doorstep, are a breach of my fundamental right to live and reside in my home," Mr Brown said.

"This is the third time the application has been lodged, it is the third time I have been put to the stress of having to consider and respond to it by way of submission."

If the mining did get the go-ahead, he sought relief by way of an independent geotechnical and land level survey prior to any work commencing, and a building assessment once completed.

He wanted the full cost of any damage to be met by Birchfields.

St James St resident Laurence Buckton also opposed the application if compensation could not be agreed on.

"I have owned a property with a mine next to it, and its value was dramatically decreased due to the neighbouring activity."

Compensation for any damage to his land or buildings by slumping or movement due to mining needed was required.

"If not agreed upon I oppose this mining application," his submission said.

Fellow Gay St residents Brain Beckett and Sandra Lang have also raised concerns about slumping and general disruption, including the running of a generator 24-7 to clear water from the mining pit.

They also felt all Ross residents should get a say on it.

"We oppose this being a non-notified submission as we feel the general population would oppose the mine so close and visible throughout the town."

In a pre-hearing report, consents and monitoring officer Charlotte Phelps, said two further submissions would not be addressed as they were not identified as affected parties. She has recommended the application be granted, with conditions to mitigate some of the concerns raised.

They include hours of operation limited to between the hours of 8am and 6pm on weekdays only.

An earth bund would be built and most work would be below ground level. Gold-bearing wash would be processed elsewhere.

Staff have also recommended the area closest to houses be mined within a shorter timeframe so "potential adverse effects from the noise of the operation are short-lived on the submitters".

The area would be rehabilitated after the five years.

"In my view, the effects of the proposal can be avoided, remedied or mitigated to levels which are compatible with the existing character and amenity of the area.

"It needs to be considered that within the area the mixed nature of the surrounding environment, the rural zoning of the area, the permitted activity rules relating to mineral exploration, and the existing mining activity all contribute to an existing environment of blended residential and industry use.

"On balance, whilst the proposed mining activity may be a 'change' to the existing environment, the activity is temporary in nature and the change in itself is not an adverse effect."

The two could "co-exist" without a significant compromise to the natural rural character, she said.

- By Janna Sherman of the Hokitika Guardian

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