Hanson held a Community Consultative Committee (CCC) Meeting on the 8th December, the first meeting since June and the first since the quarry received approval from the Federal Minister for the Environment.
The main points of interest for BHSAG and followers were:
- Current members of the CCC will remain for as long as they wish.
Peter Rees has resigned from the CCC so his and any other vacancies will be advised and refilled in due course. We thank Peter for his significant efforts through the CCC toward protecting the amenity and character of the area, particularly for Woodville and those along the haulage route to Maitland.
- The chairperson advised that the CCC would be held quarterly in accordance with the guidelines and consent conditions for the full term of quarry operations, including rehabilitation.
- Hanson is busy preparing the various management plans as required by the IPC and minister approval conditions. These include Noise, Air, Water, Environmental, Blasting, Traffic (including the drivers code of conduct.), Biodiversity and Rehabilitation. The plans will need to be submitted to the Department of Planning and Environment (DPIE), and be updated as required until they gain the departments approval.
- While Hanson claims that all processing equipment currently meets the noise criteria, they have undertaken to upgrade the primary crusher with a noise enclosure, to minimize the impacts on nearby residents and meet “best practice”. Hopefully, best practices will be mandated by the department for all other processing equipment as well.
- Hanson is hopeful that their management plans will be submitted and approved by March 2021, but know that these processes can take much longer than expected.
- Regarding the revegetation required by the federal minister, the priority will be on plantings to add to the koala corridor to the south of the current woodland. That is anticipated to start in autumn 2021. A 5 year program of plantings is anticipated.
- Hanson is keen to commence discussions with PSC on the VPA in regard to construction of the bus bays and shared footpath. The issue for Hanson is that while they can provide their contribution as specified in the IPC determination, PSC must provide the balance of any funds required, and don’t yet have a costed design plan, budget or timeframe for completion of the infrastructure. Hanson can adopt the IPC consent, but cannot exceed 700,000 tones per annum until the bus bays and footpath are completed.
- BHSAG are concerned that PSC will not provide a design that meets NSW standards for a shared footpath, and/or will delay its construction to the detriment of community safety and Hanson’s expansion.
- Hanson acknowledged that under the new consent, transport routes must be adhered to for both outward loads and returning vehicles. That will mean Richardson Rd will be used instead of Adelaide St to Heatherbrae, and trucks must not use Raymond Terrace Road or go via Morpeth to/from the New England Highway or M1.
- The quarry still has reserves available under the 1983 consent, but these are running out. The economy downturn due to COVID reduced demand, resulting in the current reserves lasting longer than was predicted earlier this year.
- The speed limit on Seaham Road between Brandy Hill and the floodplain to Raymond Terrace was discussed. The intersection with Hinton Road is a particular hazard point, with locals collecting the equivalent of a skip bin full of wing mirrors and car parts from near misses in recent years. Hanson supports the lowering of speed limits in the area.
- It was proposed to hold the next meeting on Wednesday 17th March, when more will be known on the status of the various management plans.
After the CCC meeting, Andrew Driver asked Margarete if she would agree to being a community representative on the VPA committee. Margarete agreed, but PSC subsequently denied Hanson’s request for a community representative. The first VPA meeting was held today by video link, but we have not had any feedback yet.
Before the CCC meeting, Neil had discussed the status with the DPIE. That discussion was consistent with the points above. PSC remains the consent authority. The steps toward the Department of Planning becoming the consent authority are as follows:
- Hanson must complete the various management plans to the satisfaction of the DPIE and federal minister..
- Hanson must complete any engineering required to meet the management plans. (They say there is very little required).
- Once Hanson can comply with all of the conditions in the approved management plans, at a time when they wish to, they give notice in writing that they want to adopt the new consent, giving 1 months notice.
- When the department approves the request, the new consent comes into force and the 1983 consent lapses.
- The DPIE has a section that will then manage consent compliance for the duration of the project..
The above is expected to take some months. Hanson don’t have the luxury of continuing to operate indefinitely under the old (more lenient) consent, as they will soon run out of available rock under that consent.
So PSC will remain he consent authority for some months yet. If you have any issues with quarry operating hours, transport etc, contact PSC and Hanson’s Complaints Hotline:
Hanson Hotline: 1800 882 478
Port Stephens Council: 02 4988 0255
BHSAG welcomes new people following our website, and wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and COVID restriction free 2021.
At this stage we are not expecting to post anything about the quarry until after the next CCC meeting. However, there are a number of other local issues with proposed rezonings for development that are likely to trigger a post or two!
Thanks for your support.