In this post
We have enjoyed the festive season break and hope you did too, but there has still been quite a bit happening regarding our quarries.
In this update there is information on further Martins Creek Quarry court outcomes. These are significant because of the direct impact of their haulage trucks on our roads but also because they set precedents relevant to the Brandy Hill Quarry expansion. There was a CCC meeting in November, a list of questions from CCC community members and the answers were recently received from Hanson. Lastly, there is information on where the expansion approval process is up to.
Hanson held a “have a chat” session on 6th February. More on all these matters follow.
Martins Creek Quarry
The land and environment Court ruled in October that the 1990 EIS and consent were the valid conditions for that quarry and that Daracon were operating the quarry well outside the consent and therefore illegally. The court issued orders that Daracon must comply with the consent, which imposed severe limits on the areas it could extract, the annual tonnage and amount by road.
The judge gave a three month stay on the orders to allow alternatives to be arranged by customers and contractors and for Daracon to find alternative employment for staff and workers, as they claimed that abiding by the consent would force closure of the quarry. The stay would expire in January. The ruling also gave Daracon the option to apply for an extension of the stay. During the stay period, Daracon was allowed to continue operating at levels greater than the consent, but less than they had been.
Daracon naturally applied for an infinite extension of the stay on the orders, and that was heard by the court in December. Two community representatives were invited by the judge to make presentations to the court. James Ashton from MCQAG and Neil Ritchie from BHSAG spoke against an extension of the stay, as did the DSC legal team. A significant outcome of the hearing was that the EIS for the new State Significant Development Application must be redone because the baseline is now the 1990 consent. The earliest expected completion of the new approval process is March 2020, probably later.
The judge could not condone the illegal activities continuing for that long, so the application for an infinite extension on the stay of orders was rejected. A compromise extension of just two months was granted, so Daracon have until early March to comply with the Orders. We will wait and see if they close, scale back activity or increase rail haulage, from March until a new approval is granted.
One of the key findings in the October ruling is that key documents that were the basis of a consent, such as the EIS and any key restrictions, limitations or conditions in those documents are incorporated into the consent.
This gives a strong legal basis for us to reject Hanson’s claim that they have 24/7, as the Brandy Hill Quarry 1983 EIS states in three sections that operations will be 6am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, and this adds to PSC’s submission to the DPE that as the consent authority, it believes the approved hours are 6am to 6pm Monday to Saturday.
Neil had a phone conversation with Genevieve Seed who is the DPE officer responsible for the BHQ expansion, to ensure that the department is fully aware of the implications of the court rulings, PSC’s stance on the approved operating hours, and the devastatingly detrimental impact that 24/7 operations would have on the character and amenity of our residential areas.
Finally, have you noticed the reduction in truck traffic from Martins Creek, and the reduction in early morning and late evening truck movements since the October ruling? It has been quite dramatic and very welcome and shows the positive impact that restricted operating hours has on local amenity and rural/residential character. Daracon have not asked for 24/7 in their EIS, but have sought to extend the hours from what the current consent permits.
Brandy Hill Quarry
The expansion proposal is still in the hands of the DPE in the “Assessment” phase. We are waiting on the DPE to make recommendations to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC). The IPC will then call a public meeting to hear more submissions , and then they will make a ruling for the DPE to implement. The DPE advised me in January that they are still waiting on information from Hanson, and that the earliest that their recommendations would be available is late February. It will probably be later than that.
Things that have happened since the last post:
- There was a CCC meeting in November. Here are the minutes:
Finalised minutes from Brandy HIll CCCC held 15-11-18
- One of the actions from the above meeting was for the community members of the CCC to present Hanson with any questions. These were submitted in December and here are the answers: BHQ – Response to Community Questions_January 2019Again, nothing new, but it may clarify some issues in people’s minds.
- Another action Hanson proposed was to hold a “have a chat session”.
The first of these was held on Wednesday 6th at the farmhouse at 888 Clarence Town Road, opposite the quarry.
It seems quite a few members of the public attended along with some BHSAG members. There was not much new information, but one point was that Hanson do not expect to build the concrete batching plant as it is much more expensive to cart concrete than gravel and sand. In other words it is more economical to have the batching plants close to the market. Hanson are just including provision for batching into the potential scope of the new approval. They have no plans to close or relocate the Raymond Terrace batching plant.
One new item was the release of a draft document titled: “Community and Stakeholder Engagement Plan”. I don’t have an electronic copy, so that will be posted as soon as it is available.
My initial impression is that it is to tick a box with DPE.
Hanson is trying to steer the issues of amenity and safety (pathway, intersection improvements and bus stops) into the voluntary planning agreement (VPA) , and the recommendation/decisions on the allocation of the meager transport levy toward the above, to a committee.
Our view is that the DPE/IPC must make the safety issues prerequisites to the new consent. These items are not negotiable and must not be at the expense of other road maintenance funds.The subject of Hanson continuing to claim they currently have 24/7 was raised again. Hanson stated that they have a document to that effect and legal advise that they can operate 24/7, but still have not produced any proof. This is despite PSC stating in their RTS that 6am to 6pm Monday to Saturday as stated in the EIS is the approved operating hours. PSC were and still are the consent authority for the 1983 approval.
- Hanson advised that the next CCC meeting will be held on the 21st February.
So in summary, Hanson is not budging from wanting 24/7 for crushing and despatch. They have no compassion or willingness to preserve the character or amenity of our area. Hanson continues to be evasive and non committal regarding offering any infrastructure to improve the safety at any intersections (the quarry entrance is the obvious one in need of improvement), or for pedestrians cyclists and school children and buses along Brandy Hill Drive.
Neil regularly cycles the eastern end of Brandy Hill Drive to Seaham. The cutting near the “Wallaby XING” is typical of the other cuttings. The lane from centreline to shoulder line is just 3 metres wide. There is no shoulder outside the line. The shoulder line is a far left as I can ride. His bike protrudes 0.3m into the lane. If there is oncoming traffic, traffic cannot overtake and give the required 1.5m clearance without crossing into the oncoming lane, so must slow to his speed. Trucks are 2.4m wide, so a truck needs to cross a minimum of 1.2m into the oncoming lane, and more to provide any margin of safety, or slow to the cyclist speed.
These photos show a truck in the cutting near Eloura Cl and two trucks meeting near Warrigal Cl where both cross over the shoulder lines. That is also a blind crest and corner! A cycleway, as per PSC’s Cycleways Plan, is mandatory to allow cyclists to get off Brandy Hill Drive. Of course there are lots of other reasons for a pedestrian pathway as well, and we’ll cover those in a later post.
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We are also keen to get the views of anyone who attended the chat session, or has any other feedback.