THE Bega Valley Shire Council has offered an apology for works at Wanatta Lane that went beyond designated operating hours.
The council has also offered an explanation to residents living within the vicinity of the Central Waste Facility and NBNCo’s site for why operations went past 5pm on Monday.
The works at both sites drew criticism from local residents who hadn’t been informed of the after-hours operations, including Jeff Smith.
Mr Smith took photos that he says show work taking place at the CWF and NBNCo sites at 6.30pm.
Mr Smith said his photos show concrete being poured at the NBNCo’s site and a grader in operation at the CWF.
He also provided an image that he said shows a concrete truck leaving the site at 6.50pm.
The current agreement states work must take place between 8am and 5pm weekdays, and 8am until 1pm on Saturdays.
Mayor Bill Taylor has apologised on behalf of the council.
“The incidence of work happening at the CWF and NBN sites on Monday evening may be explainable and justifiable, but critically it is unacceptable that local residents were not informed,” Cr Taylor said.
Cr Taylor said he investigated the occurrence with the council’s acting general manager Leanne Barnes.
“It was found that contractors on both sites required extra time to complete the day’s work owing to unavoidable delays, protection from forecast rain and the need to complete a concrete pour,” he said.
“In the case of the CWF site, work was delayed on road pavement stabilisation due to a tanker of stabilising material being delayed by bushfires to the north.
“Forecast heavy rain meant that work had already progressed to a point where it could not have been completed the following day, so it was necessary for work to continue once the truck arrived a few hours late.
“Impending rain was also the reason for late work at the NBN site, where footings on the site had already been prepared, but delays in delivery of concrete meant work went beyond the designated operating hours.”
However, Cr Taylor said the contractors should have sought approval from council, even at that late stage.
“Apart from assessing the merits of the work outside approved hours, council would have had the opportunity to pre-warn residents if the work was unavoidable,” he said.
A development application modification request has been lodged by NBNCo, asking for an extension to construction hours.
The modification asks for work to be allowed between 7am and 10pm Mondays to Saturdays, and 8am until 10pm on Sundays.
The request was under consideration until Wednesday and, after council’s assessment, will be referred to the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel.
In the meantime, construction hours are restricted to the original DA conditions.
While Mr Smith has begrudgingly accepted the constructions on Wanatta Lane, he said he is upset by the “breaches of contract”.
“We have resigned ourselves to the fact the CWF and NBN has been approved, but with firm conditions,” he said.
“They should stick to these conditions, not [work] outside of the time frame.
“When there is no background noise, you can really hear the beeping and clanking [of machinery].”
Mr Smith said Wanatta Lane residents should be able to enjoy peace and quiet at night.
“When the noise stops, it’s like a cool southerly breeze on a summer’s day – there’s relief,” he said.
Mr Smith said he also heard work taking place at 6.30 one morning, but operations ceased when he complained to the council.
He said he hoped the work after hours wasn’t a “precursor to the amendment with the DA”.
“Where does it stop? I’ll be glad when it’s over,” Mr Smith said.
Ms Barnes assured residents the council takes any breakdown in process very seriously.
“I can assure local residents that both contractors are now acquainted with the pre-approval process, and from this we hope to form a more inclusive relationship between council, the contractors and the community,” she said.
Wolumla resident Jeff Smith took this photo that he says shows work outside of approved hours on both the Central Waste Facility and NBNCo sites.
This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.