In today’s newsletter: news about the Quarry Consultative Committee, an update on our resident survey, and some notes about council representation.
Brandy Hill Quarry Community Consultative Committee (BHQCCC)
The BHQCCC has been chosen.
Community representatives are Neil Ritchie, Margarete Ritchie, Robert Adams, Les Fisher and James Hart.
Hanson Construction Materials Pty Ltd representatives are Tracey Marks, Kathy Lloyd, Michael Benic and Scott Tipping.
A council representative and independent chairperson are yet to be appointed.
The first meeting for the committee was held on the 18th December, attended by the above plus the consultant Hanson has engaged to prepare the EIS for the quarry expansion. The agenda outlined the purpose, membership and operating guidelines for mining project consultative committees, current quarry operations, environmental monitoring and the status of additional monitoring required for the expansion EIS. The recent installation of a PM10 dust monitor will be of special interest to some readers. The minutes will be posted on our website when they become available in the New Year.
The BHQCCC is intended to continue functioning for the life of the quarry. In other words, we will not have to wait for Council to pass on information to the community; it will come straight to the community via the committee. The EIS for the expansion will not be ready for exhibit until near the end of 2014 with resolution of any concerns not expected until mid-2015. This will be a long process, and is very different from how prior expansions and operations were approved and monitored. Regular meetings are expected only quarterly, but others can be arranged on a needs basis. At the next CCC meeting the EIS consultant will explain to us the input that he is seeking from the community. We expect that our survey will be a part of that process.
It is crucial that we have a solid community response to this survey so that we can honestly represent this community. So far we have had over 68 responses. We are aiming for about 150 or more. We have had most responses from the Brandy Hill area with a smattering from Seaham, Eskdale and Nelsons Plains. This was expected as residents of Brandy Hill bear the brunt of most truck movements but Giles Road residents are impacted upon by blasting and dust. So, if you haven’t completed your survey yet, it is not too late. You can either complete it online via the link at the top of this page, or you can fill out a form and drop it off. The forms and collection box are still on the counter of the Seaham Shop and your survey can be left there. If you know of anyone who has not received the survey, there will be some copies left at the shop for completion.
So far 100% of respondents have indicated that the 7 day, 24 hour/day operation is the key objection and the road conditions and extra truck movements along our roads (Brandy Hill Drive in particular) are the next big issues. None of this comes as a surprise but we have to have this documented. Please talk to other locals about these issues and encourage friends and neighbours to do the survey.
Thank you to those residents who helped with the latest ‘letterbox drop’ and to the person who left a donation of $5 towards our ongoing costs. So far all expenses – for the printing, paper, and our website hosting – have come from the donations made by residents at our initial community meeting. That is one of the reasons I have been urging you to get others to sign up to the website so that our printing costs can be reduced.
I will leave you with this comment made by a senior staff member of Port Stephens Council. I was having a discussion about the lack of suitable walking/cycle paths to link the Brandy Hill / Nelsons Plains / Eskdale communities with Seaham School, Seaham Park, Brandon Park, Seaham Church and the Shop as well as with other residents. I was told I was highly disillusioned if I thought that would ever happen. According to this council manager, “Brandy Hill is way down the list of importance [regarding infrastructure] due to the small number of residents” – and that we didn’t have a “destination” to warrant a path anyway.
If the Council worked on the basis of population only, then other villages such as Williamtown, Bobs Farm, Salt Ash, Wallalong and Woodville would be even further down the list than Brandy Hill and Seaham. Our population is bigger than all the others mentioned. Maybe ask our elected representatives about their thoughts on this when you next talk to them. And why aren’t they speaking up for our needs?
I would also like to inform our community of the outcomes of the Council meeting I attended on the 10th December where the Wallalong/Woodville development proposal was voted on, but I think I will leave a full account to the representatives of the VOWW group who spoke on the night. I will ask for a comment from them as I believe it will be more comprehensive. So look for that early in the New Year.
I would like to thank you all for your support over the past six months.
On behalf of the entire committee of the BH/Seaham Action Group I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a new year full of good cheer.