It has been quite difficult to get Port Stephens Council engagement on issues related to the Brandy Hill Quarry. On behalf of the Brandy Hill / Seaham Action Group I recently invited two Councillors, who had responded regarding these issues, and the quarry manager, to meet with me to ensure our concerns are known.
The meeting took place on March 18 at the quarry, and present were Michael Benic (manager, Brandy Hill quarry), Peter Kafer (West Ward Councillor), Geoff Dingle (East Ward Councillor), and myself. Thank you to both Councillors for attending and reporting these issues back to Council.
Points discussed included:
- Compression braking signs. The present ones are too small and not placed in the most appropriate positions. Hanson have offered to pay for proper signs, much larger and in keeping with usual Council/RMS regulations. Hanson will forward advice passed on from their drivers as to best placement and then it is up to Council to install.
- Speed limits on Brandy Hill Drive. These were queried by the manager and then discussed. Councillors stated that this option was often opposed by politicians as it was not popular with residents. What are your thoughts on this? Are you prepared to lower your own speed?
- Speed limit along Clarence Town Road. Manager discussed problems with speed limit of 100 kph along Clarence Town Road at the entry/exit to the quarry. Drivers report that it takes a fully laden truck 20 seconds to cross Clarence Town Road but it only takes 7 seconds from when a car comes over the crest from the direction of Seaham, to the intersection. One of the drivers said that it ‘scares the hell out of him’ every time he has to cross that road. RMS and Council can’t see anything wrong with that intersection as it is now. They have spent ‘black spot’ grant on changes to the intersection. Have they thereby made it even more of a black spot?
- Road noise issue. The road noise increases with the size of the gravel used. This comes as no surprise to most of us. Finer gravel obviously costs more and Council rarely uses it, according to the Councillors. Potholes and uneven surfaces also contribute to noise-based stress among residents.
I mentioned to Councillors that there are often terms used in discussions that most residents do not fully understand and asked for clarification.
One such term is “voluntary planning agreement”. These can be applied to development licences and are one of the potential outcomes of the Community Consultative Committee. The agreement is between the developer (Hanson) and the consent authority (eg. State Planning). Some of the potential topics include road maintenance, footpaths and other community infrastructures, hours of operation and truck movement restrictions.
While these issues have been on the agenda for a while now we have had no way to ensure that Council is listening. I hope Councillors Kafer and Dingle can get some results so that we start moving forward on some of these minor issues.