Reporting Koala Sightings

Have you seen a koala in your area? Please use the following link to report it. It will help with the effort we are all making to ensure Council is aware of the koala numbers in our area and that there needs to be an effort to look after them, be it with new signage or development policies. It also helps residents to be on the lookout when driving on local roads.

This koala has been seen several times in the Warragul and Bangalay area of Brandy Hill.

An important tool Council uses to identify locations for Koala signage is the community Koala sightings map located on this Council webpage. (Position and Zoom the map, click + and drag the pin to the sighting location, fill in the other details and complete the entry).

Council encourages the community to utilise this map system and upload all koala sightings on a regular basis to help inform Council’s decisions about types and locations of wildlife management, such a roadside signage. If you have any questions about the Koala sightings map please contact Council’s Environmental Planning Team on environmentalplanningteam@portstephens.nsw.gov.au .

CCC Meeting Minutes 11th August 2021

The Brandy Hill Quarry Community Consultative Committee met last month by video conference. The finalised minutes and photo of the updated quarry entrance sign are included below. Click “Download” to read the minutes.

The two main topics covered were the progress on the management plans and expected timeframe for Hanson adopting the new consent, and PSC’s progress and expected timeframe for the design and construction of the shared pathway and bus-bays.

The first answer is perhaps late 2021 depending on DPIE approval of the draft management plans, and the second is that PSC have made little progress on even designing the pathway.

(PSC officers promised Margarete in a separate meeting, that there would be community consultations regarding the design and route for the pathway. As that consultation with BHSAG has not yet happened, we can only assume that the design work is not even at a draft stage.

The significance of the pathway is that is is a long overdue for the safety and amenity of residents, and for Hanson, while they can adopt the new consent conditions without the completed pathway, they are restricted to the current 700,000 tonnes per annum. Output can only increase beyond that and up to the 1.5m tonnes per annum limit after the footpath and bus-bays are completed.)

The complaints hotline phone number has been added to the sign

Has Bushfire Season started?

Spring has officially started. Winter is over and the weather is warming. If you haven’t yet finished burning off your vegetation rubbish piles you may be wondering if burn off permits are now required? Well the answer in the Lower Hunter zone is NO! Not yet. Many neighbouring zones started bushfire season on September 1st including Muswellbrook, Singleton and Upper Hunter. Our recent good rains have delayed the fire risk in our area, which is expected to commence the bushfire season and permits on October 1st.

Read the details in this RFS Bulletin:

https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/news-and-media/media-releases/bush-fire-danger-period-to-begin-in-a-further-21-areas

New Speed Limit and Safety on Seaham Road

Recently the speed limit on Seaham Rd through Nelson’s Plains was reduced to 80kph. There was much controversy as some felt the extra few minutes it would take to get from “a to b” was an unacceptable imposition.

Local residents along Seaham Rd have long felt the dangers of speeding traffic. Those needing to exit or enter their properties welcomed the reduction in speed limit. Residents who live near the Hinton Rd intersection regularly see the accidents and clean up the debris.

A recent accident occurred where a car was turning right into a property. The driver had the indicator on, brakes applied and needed to wait for an oncoming bus before he could make the turn. Unfortunately another car was bearing down on the stationary vehicle from behind, at speed well over the 80kph limit and the impact propelled the stopped vehicle into the path of the oncoming bus. Thankfully the bus driver could see this play out before her and was able to stop with barely a metre to spare.

Luckily the driver and the child in the impacted car were not severely injured but the traumatic experience will live with them and their family for a long while. As it will with the bus driver and the driver who wasn’t paying attention and caused the accident. The speding driver was attended to by ambulance staff, but luckily was not hospitalized.

This is a vindication of the reduction in speed that local residents have been asking for over many years. However, people constantly ignore the limits and use their mobile phones while driving and thus are not aware of what is happening right before their eyes.

So, when you think that travelling over 80 will get you to your destination faster remember that local residents have no alternative but to slow down and wait before they can access their driveways.

Martins Creek Quarry Expansion – Submission Period Extended

Anyone that travels to Paterson or Maitland will appreciate the impact that an extra 280 truck movement/day will have on the queues and congestion in Melbourne street and surrounding roads, I encourage you to make a submission.
The following was received from MCQAG:

“Martins Creek Railway Ballast Quarry currently has an amended development application on public exhibition (link to the exhibted documents here)

The proposal being exhibited is an amendment to the 2016 EIS and SSDA that was previously exhibited in November 2016 and also follows on from the largest decision in the NSW Land & Environment Court history that in 2019 led to the operator of the quarry being restrained from unlawful operations at the site which it had been conducting since 2012. 

This planning process is independent and unrelated to the court action.

The Amendment DA is seeking approval for the following;

  • 1,100,000 tonne per annum extraction for 25 years
  • clearing of 21Ha of native vegetation containing EPBC threatened species (Koalas, Slatey Red Gums, swift Parrots, Regent Honey eaters and Spotted Quals)
  • 500,000 tpa transport of product by road
  • 600,000 tpa transport of product by rail from the site
  • 280 truck movements per day (peak) 140 loaded/140 empty
  • 40 truck movements per hour (peak) 20 loaded/20 empty

We hope as many concerned residents can lodge submissions objecting to the proposal. In relation to the human/built environment impacts we have summarized these in a link on our website, primarily MCQAG is recommending that residents with “Lived Experiences” of past unlawful operations detail in their submissions how the above parameters will result in a return to those impacts that have impacted them and their communities historically, we are advising that residents pay particular attention to the amenity and social impacts (sense of place, social fabric, rural amenity etc) that can NOT be explained away in technical studies relating to noise, vibration or air quality. 

In relation to the fauna and flora impacts these have been “detailed” in the proponents biodiversity assessment report (Link to doc here), the consultant report finds that a number of the above EPBC threatened species could reside but haven’t been found on the site, however we have photographic evidence that all have been located/sighted on land immediately adjoining the site, and the study has therefore understated the impact likely to occur with the removal of this habitat.

Submissions are now due by COB on the 31st July we understand (they must be lodged via this portal Link Here).

Any submissions opposing the Proposal (including a key focus on the impacts that have been omitted/understated by the Proponent and their Environmental consultant Umwelt) as detailed above would be greatly appreciated.

Happy to take calls/queries to assist in relation to submission lodgement etc.

thanks in advance
James Ashton
Secretary MCQAG”

Petition opposing the “sale” of public parklands in PSC area

Without endorsing any political party, if you oppose the current NSW government’s plans to offer 615 parcels of PSC public land to developers, then please click “Download” below, read the document, then print page 4 and sign it and send the page to the address on page 5, or email it to portstephens@parliament.nsw.gov.au .

Raymond Terrace Riverside Park is just one example.

Martins Creek Quarry – Submissions Due on Revised Plan

Daracon’s updated plan, after their earlier one was ruled invalid by the courts, is on display for public comment from 2nd June until 2nd July.

I understand the plan is for all trucks to go via Bolwarra to the Highway at Melbourne St East Maitland, so Butterwick Rd/ Brandy Hill Dr would only be used for local destinations on those roads. However, if you travel to Paterson or Maitland, you will have experienced how much, when that quarry was operating illegally, that the quarry truck traffic adversely impacted on the residents, businesses and other road users on that route. The Martins Creek quarry truck volumes under this plan will be similar to then. The growth of Maitland since, means traffic queues and congestion in Maitland and East Maitland in particular are now much much worse, without any Martins Creek quarry trucks. With the Brandy Hill quarry expansion sending 25% of trucks also via Maitland, the future traffic noise, congestion and impacts in the future will be amplified.

So now is your chance to have your say, until 2nd July. Please refer to the attached flier provided by the Martins Creek Quarry Action Group (MCQAG), and the link to the Department of Planning project.

https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/project/10051

Despite years of consultation regarding the real and lived devastating social impacts , Daracon are pressing for the majority of product to be transported through Paterson by road, despite the existence of the on site rail siding. Please make your submission by the 2nd July.

Seeking volunteers for a community survey workshop 27th May at Woodville School Of Arts Hall.

Residents between Seaham and Woodville have been extended an invitation to be part of a survey conducted through the University of Canberra, researching the difficulties (if there are any) in this area moving forward on a range of social , environmental, development issues and more. This is being conducted throughout Australia and is in relation to the DOTE (Dropping off the EDGE) longitudinal study.

I have agreed to help facilitate the meetings and that is why I am sharing the information through this website and related Facebook posts. Please read the following information carefully and if you are interested respond directly to RSVP on the flyer attached.

The format will be 2 workshops of 6-8 people each on Thursday 27th May. Time 10.30am – midday and 5.30pm – 7pm. Refreshments will be provided. Please refer to the document below.

I believe this could be a valuable exercise in understanding how we as a community see our strengths and weaknesses and also to understand how we look to the future.

New 80kph Speed limit between Seaham and Hinton Rd Nelsons Plains

I have been advised that the speed limit on Seaham Road between Seaham and the vicinity of the intersection with Hinton Road Nelsons plains, has been reduced from 90 to 80kph.

This is after years of lobbying by VOWW, BHSAG and local residents, with the support of both Hanson and PSC.

Of particular concern has been the intersection with Hinton Road where nearby residents have endured years of angst from countless close shaves and accidents that leave car part debris strewn around. The intersection remains a concern due to the lack of passing and turning lanes. Bus stop safety and that of residents accessing their driveways along this section of Seaham Road has been the other major concern. The speed reduction will give drivers more time to react to slow and turning vehicles, and hopefully will reduce the severity of any collisions that do occur.

This change is consistent with the 80kph speed limit that was introduced on Clarence Town Road and Butterwick Road in 2019.

We are pleased that the speed limit reduction has been implemented before the pending increase in quarry truck movements from the approved quarry expansion, Hanson continue to work toward being able to adopt the new consent.

So please be mindful of the new speed limit, for the safety of locals and other road users, and to avoid speeding fines. As you know, the police and mobile speed cameras do monitor our roads. Also be mindful of mobile phone use camera trailers that have been seen operating in the area.

I have not found any media release from Transport for NSW on the matter, but did notice workmen at the end of Brandy Hill Drive, possibly installing the new signs. If there is any further information come o light, we will keep you informed.

Stay safe.

First CCC Meeting Since Quarry Approval

Hanson held a Community Consultative Committee (CCC) Meeting on the 8th December, the first meeting since June and the first since the quarry received approval from the Federal Minister for the Environment.

The main points of interest for BHSAG and followers were:

  • Current members of the CCC will remain for as long as they wish.
    Peter Rees has resigned from the CCC so his and any other vacancies will be advised and refilled in due course. We thank Peter for his significant efforts through the CCC toward protecting the amenity and character of the area, particularly for Woodville and those along the haulage route to Maitland.
  • The chairperson advised that the CCC would be held quarterly in accordance with the guidelines and consent conditions for the full term of quarry operations, including rehabilitation.
  • Hanson is busy preparing the various management plans as required by the IPC and minister approval conditions. These include Noise, Air, Water, Environmental, Blasting, Traffic (including the drivers code of conduct.), Biodiversity and Rehabilitation. The plans will need to be submitted to the Department of Planning and Environment (DPIE), and be updated as required until they gain the departments approval.
  • While Hanson claims that all processing equipment currently meets the noise criteria, they have undertaken to upgrade the primary crusher with a noise enclosure, to minimize the impacts on nearby residents and meet “best practice”. Hopefully, best practices will be mandated by the department for all other processing equipment as well.
  • Hanson is hopeful that their management plans will be submitted and approved by March 2021, but know that these processes can take much longer than expected.
  • Regarding the revegetation required by the federal minister, the priority will be on plantings to add to the koala corridor to the south of the current woodland. That is anticipated to start in autumn 2021. A 5 year program of plantings is anticipated.
  • Hanson is keen to commence discussions with PSC on the VPA in regard to construction of the bus bays and shared footpath. The issue for Hanson is that while they can provide their contribution as specified in the IPC determination, PSC must provide the balance of any funds required, and don’t yet have a costed design plan, budget or timeframe for completion of the infrastructure. Hanson can adopt the IPC consent, but cannot exceed 700,000 tones per annum until the bus bays and footpath are completed.
  • BHSAG are concerned that PSC will not provide a design that meets NSW standards for a shared footpath, and/or will delay its construction to the detriment of community safety and Hanson’s expansion.
  • Hanson acknowledged that under the new consent, transport routes must be adhered to for both outward loads and returning vehicles. That will mean Richardson Rd will be used instead of Adelaide St to Heatherbrae, and trucks must not use Raymond Terrace Road or go via Morpeth to/from the New England Highway or M1.
  • The quarry still has reserves available under the 1983 consent, but these are running out. The economy downturn due to COVID reduced demand, resulting in the current reserves lasting longer than was predicted earlier this year.
  • The speed limit on Seaham Road between Brandy Hill and the floodplain to Raymond Terrace was discussed. The intersection with Hinton Road is a particular hazard point, with locals collecting the equivalent of a skip bin full of wing mirrors and car parts from near misses in recent years. Hanson supports the lowering of speed limits in the area.
  • It was proposed to hold the next meeting on Wednesday 17th March, when more will be known on the status of the various management plans.

After the CCC meeting, Andrew Driver asked Margarete if she would agree to being a community representative on the VPA committee. Margarete agreed, but PSC subsequently denied Hanson’s request for a community representative. The first VPA meeting was held today by video link, but we have not had any feedback yet.

Before the CCC meeting, Neil had discussed the status with the DPIE. That discussion was consistent with the points above. PSC remains the consent authority. The steps toward the Department of Planning becoming the consent authority are as follows:

  • Hanson must complete the various management plans to the satisfaction of the DPIE and federal minister..
  • Hanson must complete any engineering required to meet the management plans. (They say there is very little required).
  • Once Hanson can comply with all of the conditions in the approved management plans, at a time when they wish to, they give notice in writing that they want to adopt the new consent, giving 1 months notice.
  • When the department approves the request, the new consent comes into force and the 1983 consent lapses.
  • The DPIE has a section that will then manage consent compliance for the duration of the project..

The above is expected to take some months. Hanson don’t have the luxury of continuing to operate indefinitely under the old (more lenient) consent, as they will soon run out of available rock under that consent.

So PSC will remain he consent authority for some months yet. If you have any issues with quarry operating hours, transport etc, contact PSC and Hanson’s Complaints Hotline:

Hanson Hotline: 1800 882 478

Port Stephens Council: 02 4988 0255

BHSAG welcomes new people following our website, and wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and COVID restriction free 2021.

At this stage we are not expecting to post anything about the quarry until after the next CCC meeting. However, there are a number of other local issues with proposed rezonings for development that are likely to trigger a post or two!

Thanks for your support.