Some dust could soon settle on a serious Northland road safety problem.
For the past four years, Pipiwai/Titoki residents - and more recently at Ngapipito, Motatau and Matawaia Rds - in the Far North have carried out protests and occasional roadblocks to put pressure on the councils and forestry companies.
Whangarei District Council (WDC) and a forestry company have formulated an action plan to monitor dust levels and micron sizes, water the roads and apply suppressants outside properties on the worst affected roads.
A half-promise of future sealing work is included.
Plumes of dust raised every few minutes by logging trucks cause blind spots and other safety concerns, and coat buildings and water supplies with minute, potentially carcinogenic particles.
WDC chief executive Rob Forlong said dust suppressant work in those places would begin inside a week.
Hancock Forestry will contribute, using water tankers to dampen roads.
The company had earlier paid for trials of suppressant materials, with input of $500,000 from Far North District Council.
The trial results will become part of a region-wide plan for cutting down the problem caused by increased forestry traffic on rural roads.
In mid-February, WDC expects to hear the outcome of its latest funding application to New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).
It is the first council in New Zealand to test NZTA's new criteria.
In 2015 the council unsuccessfully asked NZTA to pay 53 per cent of the $3.6 million needed to seal the worst affected roads.
Mr Forlong said details about the work due to begin will be outlined at a community meeting in Pipiwai tomorrow.
He said all stakeholders were actively seeking solutions, "because ultimately we all want the same thing - a safe, efficient and healthy roading system in our region."
Mr Forlong said the council will consider spending more ratepayer funds on dust suppression.
"Doing that has to be balanced up against the multiple needs of thousands of other ratepayers in the district, so it will probably be a matter for debate in this year's Annual Plan and next year's Long Term Plan."
Pipiwai road action group representative John Luisi said locals were pleased the action plan included some of the issues the community had raised.
He hoped the council would ''see it through and even go further''.
''Every time we come to the table with them, it's because of the health issue. The council has in the past played it as a 'dust nuisance','' Mr Luisi said.
In December, campaigner Alex Wright said locals had lobbied the WDC for 12 years and were considering seeking a court injunction to stop the trucks because the dust problem had become worse.
Mrs Wright was responding to "a ridiculous" situation where WDC abandoned plans to grade Wright Rd because it was too dusty and unsafe.
Meanwhile, NZTA has informally suggested Northland councils, forestry companies, NZTA and residents could contribute to a nationwide policy on dust control.
• Immediate suppression work on problem spots can begin on January 25.
• Identifying other sites, beginning January 25.
• Potentially sealing more of Wright Road.
• If it gets NZTA funding, WDC could begin sealing in September.
• Increased monitoring of dust levels (PM10).
• 2015, NZTA rejected WDC and FNDC applications for funds to seal worst roads.
• WDC used the district's entire two years budget to do spot sealing.
• FNDC sealed in front of houses on Piccadilly and Pipiwai Roads.
• 2016, FNDC committed $500,000 to trial polymer and suppressant products on 22km of roads.
• New NZTA policy could fund sealing of priority areas but ratepayers still pay 50 per cent.