End-September Update

Firstly, welcome to everyone who follows our website, and particularly those people who have recently joined us.

BHSAG and VOWW have been very busy since May. This update covers activities since the NSW IPC’s 16th July approval of the Brandy Hill quarry expansion, which remains subject to signoff by federal minister for the Environment by 13th October.

Considerable efforts have been directed to ensure the Federal Minister for the Environment has independent current data on the local Koala population, and understands public sentiment on this matter. These efforts have resulted in considerable ongoing media coverage centred on the Facebook campaign “Save Port Stephens Koalas”.  This group now has nearly 4,500 members, locally, nationally and internationally.  You may have seen some of the extensive radio, TV, newspaper and online coverage.   There has been significant celebrity interest and involvement, including Olivia Newton-John, Jimmy Barnes, Magda Szubanski, and Shaynna Blaze.  The Federal Environment Minister met with Campaign Managers and the University Koala Experts last week.  It is still very important that you express your views to the Minister, as per our previous post.  
We are not currently proposing any protest meetings/marches.

One of the many Koala sightings in the area

A team of professional koala experts at the Newcastle University were engaged by BHSAG/VOWW to conduct a koala survey.  They thoroughly researched the koala habitat surrounding the Brandy Hill quarry site. Their report states the quarry expansion would destroy some of the most valuable koala habitat in Port Stephens.  The area is also a critical breeding corridor.  The Brandy Hill/Seaham area is the last in-land koala ‘hub’ and over 40 separate sightings of koalas have been made by locals, within quarry land or in close proximity to the site, since the campaign began.  Breeding female koalas and bellowing males show this is an important breeding ground.   

In addition to quarry matters, VOWW continues to be involved with inappropriate rezoning proposals. A developer wants to have land at 610 Seaham Rd rezoned to small lot rural-residential (<0.8ha). This garnered opposition from the adjacent chicken, turkey and beef farmers. VOWW committee provided support at two council meetings. Despite these efforts,  PSC decided to refer the rezoning to the NSW Planning’s “Gateway” process. Unless Gateway rejects it outright this will go to public exhibit and seek public comment, before a decision is made.

Another inappropriate rezoning to small lot rural-residential in Giles Road was also opposed at a recent council meeting. Fortunately, PSC decided to reject that proposal.

There are other rezoning proposals in the Seaham, Brandy Hill and Nelsons plans areas that we will keep you informed about. One, to rezone part of 792 Seaham Rd (the old Eskdale property) to 2 hectare rural residential, seems to be in keeping with adjacent estates, but we await the details.

BHSAG has also been in contact with DPIE regarding Hanson’s management plan for compliance with the new IPC conditions. DPIE expects Hanson to take up the new consent later this year. Perhaps they are really running out of available rock under the old consent.

BHSAG continues to correspond with PSC regarding Hanson’s trucks ongoing breach of conditions by despatching prior to 6am.

We have also been in contact with our Councillors, to ensure that the bus bays and shared footpath as required under the new consent, are fit for purpose. Given that the roads do not currently meet standards for contemporary quarry trucks, the shared footpath is even more essential for the future safety of pedestrians and cyclists, particularly as trucks are expected to get heavier and longer over the life of the new consent.

We have been contacted by a resident of Woodberry, regarding large numbers of quarry trucks using Raymond Terrace and Woodberry Roads and the Tarro railway bridge and highway interchange. They believe these are Brandy Hill Quarry trucks, using routes that are not approved under either the current or IPC consents.

How can you help VOWW and the BHSAG committee and the work they are doing to fight inappropriate development in West Ward, and to hold PSC accountable?

Become a member of VOWW (BHSAG is a subcommittee of VOWW), an incorporated body to represent you , the local residents. See attached membership application form for details of how to submit your application and pay the $5 annual fee.

Let us show PSC that we are not just “THOSE PEOPLE”, a vocal minority (to be ignored), but a vocal majority! If we don’t act on issues now, we stand to lose our local character and amenity to big developers, who have no regard for us or the environment. We are not opposed to development, just that which is inappropriate for the area. Remember why you chose to live where you do.

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