As you know, Daracon has been transporting gravel from the Martins Creek Quarry along Butterwick Road, Clarence Town Road, Brandy Hill Drive and Seaham Road for a number of years. It has been a burden on those residents who live along these roads in particular, as it combines with truck traffic from the Hanson quarry. In addition to that, Daracon has not paid any road levy to any of the three council’s including Port Stephens Council, for road maintenance or improvements. and truck traffic through Paterson risks the closure of businesses and the loss of the services they provide.
On 12th October, the judge finally handed down his ruling on the court case. The court hearing was held in April last year. Dungog Shire Council brought the action against Daracon for 11 breaches of the conditions of consent for the operations of the quarry.
It is difficult to summarise such a long document but here are a few key points.
- Council has won on many of the declarations and orders. The court has confirmed the Martins Creek Quarry operations are illegal in many respects.
- The 1991 consent issued to State rail was ruled to be the valid conditions for operations as a railway ballast quarry and not as a general quarry.
- The judge also ruled and that the EPA license variation to 2 million tonnes/annum was illegal.
- The judge issued a number of orders regarding ongoing operations, which contain restrictions. Operations must abide by an Interim Environmental Management Plan (which was volunteered by Daracon), that must be fully implemented within 3 months.
- The 3 month stay before the orders take effect is to reduce the impact on employees and avoid the adverse consequences of a sudden curtailment in supply to existing projects.
- Daracon may make a further application to the court if in 3 months they have not received an SSDA approval.
- Being a civil matter, there is no fine, restitution order or gaol-term, however, Daracon pays court costs and the ruling provides a strong basis for further court actions seeking damages.
So it is a good outcome. The delay was explained in that the 350 pages covering the 11 separate matters, is the longest ruling in the history of the Land and Environment court! That is even even larger than the Mabo land rights case!
The full ruling is now available on the Land and Environment court’s website: DSC v Daracon
If you open the link, scroll down just a few pages to the “Table of Contents”. Each entry is also a link to that section, so click to go straight to that section. We suggest you go to the section “THE OUTCOME OF THE PROCEEDINGS” for the summary.
We don’t see any direst impact on the Brandy Hill Quarry expansion proposal.
We will be watching for the next steps with interest. Will the quarry curtail operations? Will they redo their SSDA proposal for expansion? What will happen next in the courts?
Till next time.