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Acoustic Fence Concept For Consideration

Acoustic Fence Concept For Kurow Residents To Consider

Meridian Energy is looking at a concept for an innovative acoustic fence in Kurow that it believes could mitigate some of the potential effects of construction noise and dust from Project Aqua.

Project Aqua is a proposed hydro-electricity scheme with a 60-kilometre canal with six hydro power stations, two outfalls and new high voltage transmission lines. It would run along the south side of the lower Waitaki Valley, from an intake at Kurow to an outfall six kilometres from the coast.

Meridian Energy has applied to the Otago Regional Council and Environment Canterbury for the required resource consents under the Resource Management Act. Meridian Energy also requires a designation in the Waitaki and Waimate District Plans.

“Mitigation is a priority for Meridian Energy and there has been a great deal of time and effort spent talking with and listening to the concerns and views of the local community. Kurow residents who would be most affected by the construction of Project Aqua have made it clear that they would like to stay in their houses, if at all possible, even though Meridian Energy has offered to relocate all those within 100 metres of the proposed construction zone” says Meridian Energy spokesperson Alan Seay.

“As a result of this feedback about relocation, we have been looking at how we could mitigate the noise and dust effects from the construction of Project Aqua, should it go ahead. Meridian Energy has been looking at the concept of an acoustic fence that could run along the northern edge of the town. The fence would provide the most benefit to those closest to the construction site.”

The fence could cut the noise level at affected properties by around 5 decibels. Marshall Day, Meridian Energy’s expert consultant on noise effects, says that this would be a noticeable difference.

Up until now, Marshall Day has been recommending that many residents close to the proposed construction site in Kurow would need to relocate because of the noise effects. A reduction of 5 decibels would potentially allow most people within 100 metres of the proposed construction zone to stay in their houses, if they preferred. Meridian Energy would still give people the option of relocation if they found noise effects too disruptive. That relocation is likely to be in the Kurow area unless a person specifically wants to move from the town.

An initial concept drawing of the fence has been developed. This includes the idea of making the fence a real community feature that would appeal to locals and visitors alike. Some residents viewed the sketch concept at the weekend and the initial feedback was very positive.

“We are also very excited about the concept that has been developed, which could offer the potential to allow local artwork or graphics on some of the fence panels,” says Alan Seay.

Local schools and community members are likely to have plenty of ideas on what could go on the panels. Meridian Energy will be providing plenty of opportunity for the local community to have input on what should go on the decorated panels. The initial concept also includes the integration of glass bubbles within some of the panels, which would allow people to look through the fence and see what is happening on the other side. At night, lights at the base of the fence could light up these bubbles.

Meridian Energy emphasises that the idea for an acoustic fence is still very much a concept plan, and requires extensive consultation and feedback from community members.

The final design and appearance of any fence would also be subject to engineering design requirements to ensure that the fence would perform as intended.

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