On Tuesday 13th December, item 13 on the Port Stephens Council agenda had councillors debate a petition that was signed by over 500 local people. The petition opposed council’s plan to have two road crossings in the pathway design with the pathway starting from Seaham Road on the south side of BHD, crossing to the other side near Werai Cl then back again north of Tandara Rd. ie the petition supported the pathway remaining on the western side for the full length of BHD.
The council agenda included the recommendation that the petition be rejected and to continue designing the pathway with the two crossings.
Therese, who did all the hard work arranging the petition, was unfortunately unable to attend to speak to council during the public access session. However, Neil Ritchie did speak in support of the pathway petition. Many questions were then asked of Neil and council staff.
Once the formal meeting started, our west ward councillor Giacomo Arnott, successfully moved that item 13 be brought forward so those of us in the audience could hear the debate and then leave. The outcome was unanimously in favour of supporting the petition and to build the pathway on only one side of BHD!
So many thanks to Therese for conducting the petition and everyone that signed it, to Neil for speaking to PSC, to our west ward councillors for supporting us in the debate, and to council for their unanimous vote.
Here are the two most relevant pages from the draft council minutes. A link to the full minutes follows.
Here is the link to the minutes. Select “DRAFT 13 December 2022 – Ordinary Council Minutes – Pages 1-307” and go to Page No 245. (At some point the final minutes will be posted, but the page number may change). Note that the “Background” section relates to the recommendation to reject the petition.
So while there is still much to do regarding planning of the pathway and an acceptable Voluntary Planning Agreement to be negotiated between Hanson and PSC, that is good news leading up to Christmas. Hopefully they pathway will be able to progress early next year.
– Hanson have only the Water Management Plan, the Koala Habitat Plans and Koala Protection Plans still to be signed off to be able to adopt the IPC consent.
– The Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) for the pathway along Brandy Hill Drive plus the bus bays has not yet been signed off with PSC. (I understand the VPA must also be signed off before Hanson can adopt the IPC consent. That infrastructure must be completed before Hanson can expand annual production beyond the current 700,000 tonnes per annum.).
– The petition opposing PSC’s plan to include two road crossings in the pathway was also discussed. (A subsequent post will be forthcoming on the minutes from the December PSC meeting where the petition was addressed).
– PBS trucks and routes were discussed. PBS means “Performance Based Standards” allowing trucks that meet the standards to carry higher loads than normal, but only on roads approved for PBS trucks. Brandy Hill Drive and highways are included on the PBS road network (even though BHD and the intersections at both ends do not meet the standards), PBS trucks cannot use any other route from the quarry eg via Woodville.
– When we receive the link to the approved management plans that will be posted.
If you have not already done so, the MCQAG committee encourages you to lodge your written objections using the link above before the revised closing date.
If you have already lodged your written objections we recommend you take this opportunity to solicit additional written submissions from your friends and family to oppose the proposal.
As detailed in earlier updates, your submissions should detail your lived experiences, the impacts that will affect you, your family and your household. You should also detail what the IPC can do to resolve those issues (MCQAG committee’s position is the proposal should be refused approval).
If you need a hand lodging online, get in touch with us via email or phone and one of our volunteers will help you out.
Port Stephens Council’s (PSC) online information and consultation meeting was held last Tuesday, with a number of residents participating. These were the points that I noted:
The project is still in the concept phase.
Consultation has occurred with the bus companies, regarding the best locations for the bus stop bays. The proposed locations were not clearly shown on the map provided.
The bus stops that were mentioned along Brandy Hill Drive (BHD) included ones at the intersections with Warrigal, Werai and Tandara. Only 1 bus stop was discussed along Seaham Road, which was at Sophia Jane Drive.
Each bus stop will have bays on both sides of the road. ie for buses travelling in both directions.
PSC identified two pathway route options. Option 1 is their preferred route, which has the pathway in the section between Werai Close (#56 BHD) and #84 BHD on the eastern side of BHD, with the remainder on the south-western side. Option 2 has the pathway all on the south-western side of BHD.
Under option 1, the road crossings would NOT be zebra pedestrian crossings. They would have pedestrian refuges at each side, but pedestrians must give way to traffic at that type of crossing.
Both options require power poles to be moved, necessitating brief power outages. Fewer outages would be needed for option 1.
Both options are likely to require some land acquisitions. ie need to move front boundaries/fences back a short distance. Potentially affected land owners have been consulted.
Where acquisitions are required, landowners will be compensated based on valuations, and fences replaced at PSC expense on a like for like basis.
Where the pathway crosses driveways, these too will be repaired/replaced on a like for like basis. The pathway construction will be consistent with the traffic load at each point. i.e. more robust where vehicle traffic is involved such as on access roads and crossing driveways.
Questions and feedback can be posted onto the above map, as follows: Click and drag one of the icons for Thumbs-up, Ideas or Comments to the applicable map location. Fill in the details, tick agree to terms, and click “Add Comment”. You will receive an email confirmation of your entry.
Please pass this onto your friends, neighbours along BHD and other stakeholders, to encourage them to provide feedback to PSC via the map.
Further consultation, design and costing will be undertaken to eventually produce a detailed plan.
Hanson continues to prepare their management plans that require approval before they can apply to adopt the new consent. Once the new consent is adopted, quarry output cannot exceed the previous limit of 700,000 tonnes per year, until the pathway and bus bays are completed.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
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
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.