Loss of Habitat from Quarry Expansion


The Brandy Hill quarry expansion has been an issue for the community since mid 2013. At that time the main concern for residents centred on 24/7 operations and safety along the road haulage routes. But over the last 7 years other issues have arisen: dust, noise and biodiversity to name but a few. While the IPC determination has addressed some of these issues, biodiversity was left in limbo. The submissions made by VOWW and BHSAG in 2017 were based on information available at the time. Since then far more has come to light.

Information was requested of Hanson which was previously unavailable due to “commercial in confidence “ and our own research has revealed a far greater biodiversity impact than was previously understood on the proposed expansion site. Of particular note, is a report commissioned by Hanson for their EIS, dated February 2019 and sent to Department of Planning and is therefore on public record. Findings in this report brought to life the detrimental impact the clearing of 52 hectares of core koala habitat would have on the local koala population. Changes in federal and state environmental law (spec. koala), drought conditions, increased development and the Black Summer bushfires over recent times has pushed the importance of protecting our local koala population to even greater significance. The information on which the IPC based it’s determination was a 2015 koala survey provided by Hanson. No information was provided nor requested on the CURRENT status. We have a significant local koala population and it is one of the last remaining healthy colonies in the Port Stephens region.

There is now strong evidence that we have breeding females and an active core colony in the area. An updated survey must be requested. You may have seen heightened activity on social media as well as in main stream media on the significance of the Brandy Hill koala population. We must not lose sight of the fact that the bulldozing of land for the expansion will also affect other endangered species including the grey-headed flying fox, regent honeyeaters, spot-tail quoll and swift parrot. The Brandy Hill quarry expansion was approved by the NSW government just 2 weeks after a parliamentary enquiry found koalas in the State would be extinct by 2050 without urgent government intervention. Minister Ley has the final say on approving the quarry expansion. Remember, the number one threat to koalas and other wildlife is destruction and fragmentation of habitat.

If you want to voice your opinion please contact the Federal Environment Minister. On the 8th September, Sussan Ley will make her final decision on whether the expansion of Brandy Hill quarry will go ahead. You can use your social media accounts to call on the Minister to #savePortStephenskoalas. Don’t forget to tag!

Facebook: @SussanLeyMP
Twitter: @SussanLey
Instagram: @SussanLeyMP

or email by using the link on the “The Hon. Sussan Ley MP” homepage.

Brandy Hill Quarry Hours of Operation

The IPC decision on future hours of operation has basically carried the current consent conditions forward. The key IPC condition is that product loading and despatch and quarrying operations are limited to 6am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, and at no time on Sundays or public holidays. This is the same as the 1983 EIS and consent, with the exception that the latter does not mention public holidays, and there are exceptions for maintenance and secondary/tertiary crushing. The 1983 consent conditions will remain in effect until Hanson formally advises the DPIE of the “date of Commencement” of the new consent.

The hours of operation were one of the principal issues we had with Hanson’s proposal, and has been a frequent matter for complaints about noise in the early morning and into the night. We were frustrated by PSC’s non enforcement of this matter, which we understand was partly due to the uncertainty about what the IPC would determine for the future.

That uncertainty has now gone, so I have written to PSC to properly enforce the hours of operation while they remain the consent authority.

So if you see gravel trucks entering the quarry before 6am or after 6pm Monday to Saturday, or at any time on Sundays, or hear any quarrying or crushing noise outside 6am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, please lodge your complaint with PSC. You can also complain on the HANSON Hotline, but PSC is the consent authority responsible for enforcement, so they are the prime contact, until the new consent comes into force.

IPC Determination!

We received the following at 5.05 PM today from NSW Planning:

Please be advised that the Determination for the Brandy Hill Quarry Expansion Project is now available on the IPCN website:


The wait is over! Please read the 3 documents from the IPC, either from the above website near the top under the heading “DETERMINATION”, or attached at the end of this post, to draw your own conclusions.

The IPC has basically endorsed the recommendations from the DPIE with some improvements in favour of the community.

  • The 6 bus bays and pathway must be completed BEFORE annual production can exceed 700,000 tonnes
  • No trucks before 6am
  • Enclosure of all fixed processing equipment from stage 1.

There will be many disappointments for the community, but also many for Hanson, so perhaps there is some balance.

Clearly, without the efforts of so many community members, the outcome would have been much worse, so I thank you all.

The three IPC determination documents are available below:

Brandy Hill Quarry is on NSW Government List of Projects to be “Fast Tracked”

If you have heard that the quarry is on the government’s list of projects to be fast tracked, don’t be alarmed. We have been assured by the IPC that, as the quarry project is already before the Commission, there will be no short cuts or by-passing due process.

Kate Washington also pointed out that the Brandy Hill Quarry project has one of the least employment and capital values of all the projects listed. We note that the employment figure of 31 is inflated compared to Hanson’s figure of 18 in other publications. Here is the full list of fast tracked projects:

Hanson Complaint Hotline

On 29th April we received the following email from the quarry CCC Chairperson Lisa Andrews, regarding who to contact with complaints about the quarry. This was the first time we had been notified of the Hotline in all the years since the CCC was formed! Please make use of it to report your first hand experience of problems. It could still be some time before the SSDA is finalised, so keep reporting problems.

We all know that Hanson disregard the conditions of consent, but they also use the lack of complaints as justification to keep doing it. For example, in this document to the DPIE on the 11th May: https://majorprojects.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/prweb/PRRestService/mp/01/getContent?AttachRef=SSD-5899%2120200521T005501.926%20GMT
they say:

Already in 2020, the normal operating hours to 10:00pm of the secondary and tertiary equipment have been required on 60 evenings. It is notable that Hanson has not received any complaints about these evening operations.”

Dear CCC members,

I hope you are all well during these unprecedented times.
Recently multiple Hanson staff have been receiving numerous enquiries and complaints regarding Brandy Hill Quarry. Hanson understands the importance in providing an avenue for community members to ask questions and lodge complaints regarding a Hanson site. However, while the site remains compliant with its development consent and Environmental Protection Licence conditions, staff are somewhat limited in their ability to appease the concern of some residents. In the interest of all parties Hanson is providing a more formal procedure of communication to ensure all complaints are captured, investigated and responded to.  Accordingly, we are asking CCC members to pass along to the broader community the following details regarding Brandy Hill Quarry environmental enquiries or complaints:

Hanson Hotline: 1800 882 478

Port Stephens Council: 02 4988 0255

EPA Environmental Line: 131 555

The Hanson Hotline provides community members a way to contact Hanson regarding any concerns, enquiries or complaints while allowing a streamlined avenue in tracking the issue and providing a response to the complainant. This is also the number provided on signage associated with the quarry.

Finally, Port Stephens have overall responsibility for the current Brandy Hill Quarry consent.  Should you have any complaints and/or enquiries relating to the approval conditions for the quarry, please lodge them with Council directly.  Please note that as the site’s regulatory authority, complaints and/or enquiries regarding the environmental performance of the quarry, may be lodged through the EPA’s Environmental Line.

I trust this information is of assistance.

Kind regards,
Belinda Pignone
Environmental Planning & Compliance Coordinator

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require any further information.
Thank you and regards

Lisa Andrews
Independent Chairperson &
Articulate Solutions Pty Ltd
t: 0401 609 693
e: lisaandrews.ic@gmail.com

So despite lack of success with complaints to date, keep them coming as the DPIE and IPC will be monitoring the complaint register (we hope).

IPC Public Meeting 12th June 2020

The IPC held the public meeting on the Brandy Hill Quarry Expansion by video-conference yesterday, from 10am to about 4pm. It was a tiring day after weeks of preparation by the 6 BHSAG committee members who spoke on behalf of BHSAG and VOWW. Many other passionate and concerned residents from Giles Road, Nelsons plains and elsewhere also made their presentations. We wholeheartedly thank everyone who presented to the commission or have already sent in written submissions.

The meeting was live streamed so we hope you had the opportunity to watch some of the proceedings. Hanson had two speakers present first, and they both mainly pushed their need for more hours and more trucks in order to service the Sydney market.

Written submissions
If you still want to have your say on this project but were unable to participate in the Public Meeting, you can submit your comments in writing to the Commission via email to: ipcn@ipcn.nsw.gov.au , by post or the online portal: http://www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/have-your-say Written comments are weighed the same as spoken presentations. The IPC will accept submissions until Friday 19th June. Your support is important.

Meeting Presentations
The presentations by committee members will be posted as soon as we can. Here is the first installment, from Neil Ritchie. We can only hope the IPC has listened with more empathy than Hanson has to date.

We were very disappointed with PSC’s responses to questions from the IPC last week about costings for the bus bays and shared pathway, and the suitability of the roads and intersections for heavy vehicles. See below from the IPC website:

Other presentations will be posted as they become available .

Hanson Does Not Accept the Department’s Proposed Conditions of Approval

If you have read the Department’s assessment of the quarry expansion and thought that the recommended conditions of approval are reasonable to some degree, don’t be complacent. Don’t sit back and think the job is done. Read the following “Appendix A…” document, which is publically available on the IPC website,  and have your say, either in person by videoconference, or by mailing a written submission to the IPC (see previous posts for the details). We don’t want the IPC to relax any of the proposed conditions for Hanson’s sake, we want them tightened further for our sakes!

Appendix A_LtrHanson_14May20

Hanson has not accepted the recommended conditions and continues to push for 24/7 and thinks that its business needs overshadow the preservation of our area’s amenity and character and thus our lifestyle and wellbeing.

Hanson’s proposed “concessions” in the Voluntary Planning Agreement with PSC are also a sham and insult. The $120,000 mentioned for bus bays is not an additional contribution, just an advance payment that will be used as a credit to reduce future road maintenance payments.

The $1.5m for the pathway is only half what it will cost, even though their trucks account for over 90% of all the heavy vehicle traffic on Brandy Hill Drive, and will increase.

Have your say with the IPC and take control of your future!



IPC Hearing

The Independent Planning Commission (IPC) will hold the hearing on the Brandy Hill Quarry Expansion on 12th June, by video conference.

Please either register by 5th June to speak to the commission on the 12th June, or simply send a written submission to the IPC to arrive by the 19th June.

The notice was in the Newcastle Herald today (21st May) and on the IPC website.

IPC Notice – BHQ




NSW Planning’s Assessment of the BHQ Expansion Proposal

Today, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment posted  their recommended conditions for approval of the Brandy Hill Quarry Expansion project onto their website.

We were advised with the following email from Genevieve Lucas, who has overseen this project from the beginning:

“The Department has now completed its merit assessment of the Brandy Hill Quarry Expansion Project.

I have just made the recommendation live on our Major Project’s website, so it will be available either now or very shortly.

NSW Planning’s Assessment

The Department has recommended that the application could be approved, subject to strict conditions of consent. This includes limitations on operating / product transport hours.  The Department’s Assessment Report provides details of our recommendations and I encourage you to read this document as well as the recommended conditions of consent.

The application will now be considered and determined by the Independent Planning Commission of NSW. The Commission will undertake its own public engagement processes, and I encourage you to check their website for further information https://www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/ (it might be later on today that the project is available on their website).

It’s been a number of years that we have been in touch about this application and I appreciate all the inputs and updates you have provided.

I wish you all the best for the next steps, and as always, please contact me if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

Genevieve Lucas
Team Leader

Resource Assessments, NSW Planning, Industry and Environment”

The link above provides access to three documents covering the department’s assessment. While I have not yet had time to read all the detail, a quick review and phone conversation with Genevieve enabled me make the some observations.

While everyone will have their own unique view on the proposed quarry expansion, I will limit my summary to the issues that BHSAG raised. Firstly, in its initial submission, which represented, as best we could, the consensus from the surveys and other feedback that we received from the community. The issues are listed with the most important first. later I will review the issues that BHSAG raised after Hanson provided its “Response to submissions”.

  1. Hanson wanted 24/7.
    BHSAG pushed for the current 6am to 6pm 6 days per week.

    The recommendation is much closer to what we wanted:

    A12. Truck movements at the site (ie either arrival or dispatch) must not exceed:
    (i) 18 movements between 5:00 am and 6:00 am;
    (ii) 24 movements between 6:00 am and 7:00 am;
    (iii) 60 movements per hour between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm;
    (iv) 10 movements per hour between 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm, on up to 20 evenings per calendar year; and
    (v) 600 movements per calendar day;

    1-Fullscreen capture 18-May-20 40911 PM

  2. Hanson wanted 60 loaded truck dispatches per hour.
    BHSAG pushed for 30, the current maximum. 
    Recommendation: The department has indirectly specified 30.
    See: A12 (iii) 60 movements per hour between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm (Which includes empty arrivals) 
  3. Hanson wanted to process Batching plant waste.
    BHSAG opposed it.
    Recommendation: A10. The Applicant may receive and process up to 20,000 tonnes of concrete waste material at the site in each calendar year.

  4. BHSAG pushed for a significant increase in the road haulage levy, to better cover the cost of maintaining the many roads used by quarry trucks.
    Outcome: I am told that the VPA with PSC includes a significant increase.

  5. BHSAG pushed for a shared pathway along Brandy Hill Drive.
    The press release from Hanson advised that they will contribute toward the pathway. The departments recommendation:
    $1.5 million towards the construction of a shared pathway along Brandy Hill Drive. Additionally, Hanson has agreed to provide all funding for the shared pathway within two years of the commencement of the Project.

  6. BHSAG pushed for additional bus bays along Brandy Hill Drive.
    In response to these concerns, Hanson has agreed to implement a VPA with Council including:
    $120,000 towards the construction of bus bays along Brandy Hill Drive, to be provided as an upfront payment of haulage levies required under Council’s contributions plan. The Department has recommended that existing product transport volumes (ie 700,000 tpa) are retained until the proposed bus bays are constructed.

    Other items that BHSAG pushed for, but  were not taken up were:
  7. Signage on Brandy Hill Drive regarding school children and “40 when lights flash”.
  8. Pedestrian crossing refuges on Brandy Hill Drive, near all side streets.
  9. Speed limit reduction to 60kph on Brandy Hill Drive and on Clarence Town Road near the quarry entrance. (Note that Clarence Town Road has recently been reduced to 80kph.
  10. Easily read truck ID, so that trucks breaking the “code of conduct” are more easily identified and reported. (This item will be discussed further at CC meetings).
  11. A system of monitoring trucks for noisy engine/exhausts.

Issues Subsequent to the above initial submission, BHSAG advised the department in November 2018 that Hanson’s Response to Submissions continued to be grossly inadequate. The concerns raised then and the current outcomes are summarised below.
Reject 24/7. There must be an overnight curfew of despatch and crushing.
Outcome: Largely success. See above.

Mandate the provision of safety and amenity infrastructure (separate from the haulage levy) for footpaths and bus stops.
Outcome: Bus bays must be built before Hanson exceeds the current output limit. 
The Shared pathway must be funded within two years of the commencement of the new consent (irrespective of tonnage). Genevieve’s expectation is that PSC will expedite the construction over say 5 years.

 Ensure the haulage levy covers all council road routes through PSC and MCC.
Outcome. Maitland Council is pursuing a VPA covering a haulage levy on MCC roads.
PSC have an agreed VPA with Hanson.

 Increase the haulage levy because multiple haulage routes are used. PSC has to maintain over 30km of haul roads, and not just the 12km to the nearest state road at Raymond Terrace. The paltry ~$400,000 pa does not cover anywhere near the cost of maintaining that length of road where the vast majority of heavy vehicles are, and will increasingly be, fully laden quarry trucks. Note that our surveys and casual observation indicate that fewer than 15 heavy non gravel trucks use Brandy Hill Drive daily. So the proportion of the 718 daily gravel trucks on that route will be the vast majority.
Outcome: I understand there is a significant increase in the levy in the VPA with PSC.

 Mandate dust and sound attenuation enclosures on all processing equipment from stage 1. 
Outcome: I understand that all crushing equipment will be enclosed.


My initial appraisal of the department’s assessment, in terms of the issues raised by BHSAG, is that we have been successful to a much larger degree than expected. While not all our wishes are granted, the big ticket items of limiting hours of operation and hourly truck numbers, providing safety and amenity infrastructure in the bus bays and a pathway, and ensuring local councils are better funded to maintain our roads, have all been largely addressed.

BHSAG’s next challenge will be to present to the IPC, to ensure that the department’s recommendations are not watered down to appease Hanson, and where there are deficiencies, we will  continue to push for conditions closer to what our community wants.

The BHSAG committee will need a little time to fully understand the department’s assessment, and decide on our next steps. We will keep you informed on that and the IPC timetable.

That’s all for now.