Southern Moreton Bay Island residents push for green sealing of dirt roads to continue

CONCERNS: Southern Moreton Bay Island residents are concerned that dust is causing health issues.
CONCERNS: Southern Moreton Bay Island residents are concerned that dust is causing health issues.

A RUSSELL Island resident has slammed delays in Redland City Council's program to seal dirt roads on the bay islands saying dust is causing health issues.

Ann Hagen told the council on Wednesday that residents of Russell and Macleay islands had nasal issues, ear infections and coughs which they attributed to churned up dust drifting into homes.

The council's green seal program - started in 2014-15 - involves putting a lower cost narrow bitumen seal over gravel roads. About $12 million has been spent sealing 45 kilometres of island roads, with 50 kilometres still prioritised for sealing.

Cr Mark Edwards said there was money for the program in this year's budget but it had not been released. One reason was uncertainty about whether a council contribution was needed to access $500,000 promised by the federal government.

Cr Edwards said he had this week invited councillors to see the impact the dirt roads had on residents and the environment.

During budget discussions in June Cr Edwards said the "extremely worthwhile" green seal program could save the council $50 million.

Ms Hagen showed photos of plumes of dust behind rubbish trucks and said dust monitoring was needed.

HEALTH CONCERNS: Residents of Russell and Macleay islands say that dust drifting into homes is causing nasal issues, ear infections and coughs.

HEALTH CONCERNS: Residents of Russell and Macleay islands say that dust drifting into homes is causing nasal issues, ear infections and coughs.

"Think about illness and legal action involving bench-top cutters and others involved in exposure to dust and you'll realise that at least some residents are suffering and continue to suffer because of council choosing to spend money elsewhere," Ms Hagen said.

"There's a problem with unsealed roads on the islands and it's a problem council must deal with. Money is and has been splashed elsewhere...This health issue needs council money and commitment to fix."

Cr Edwards said the gravel roads, which were dusty, rutted and potholed, broke down quickly from traffic, rain, wind and drying out. "This means that council has a heavy cost in grading and reshaping island gravel roads at regular intervals," he said.

Cr Edwards said a bitumen coating would protect roads from quickly breaking down.

"We have been told by our road engineers that green sealing these roads would provide a $50 million saving in the operational budget over time," he said. "To continue to green seal the islands roads not only makes good community sense but also long term financial sense."

A council spokeswoman said a potential $500,000 Commonwealth grant was being investigated.

"In regard to dust, if council receives complaints about dust created by council or council contractor vehicles, the complaints are investigated," she said. "Some methods of investigation used include GPS and CCTV units installed on vehicles."

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