Martins Creek Quarry Expansion – Submission Period Extended

Anyone that travels to Paterson or Maitland will appreciate the impact that an extra 280 truck movement/day will have on the queues and congestion in Melbourne street and surrounding roads, I encourage you to make a submission.
The following was received from MCQAG:

“Martins Creek Railway Ballast Quarry currently has an amended development application on public exhibition (link to the exhibted documents here)

The proposal being exhibited is an amendment to the 2016 EIS and SSDA that was previously exhibited in November 2016 and also follows on from the largest decision in the NSW Land & Environment Court history that in 2019 led to the operator of the quarry being restrained from unlawful operations at the site which it had been conducting since 2012. 

This planning process is independent and unrelated to the court action.

The Amendment DA is seeking approval for the following;

  • 1,100,000 tonne per annum extraction for 25 years
  • clearing of 21Ha of native vegetation containing EPBC threatened species (Koalas, Slatey Red Gums, swift Parrots, Regent Honey eaters and Spotted Quals)
  • 500,000 tpa transport of product by road
  • 600,000 tpa transport of product by rail from the site
  • 280 truck movements per day (peak) 140 loaded/140 empty
  • 40 truck movements per hour (peak) 20 loaded/20 empty

We hope as many concerned residents can lodge submissions objecting to the proposal. In relation to the human/built environment impacts we have summarized these in a link on our website, primarily MCQAG is recommending that residents with “Lived Experiences” of past unlawful operations detail in their submissions how the above parameters will result in a return to those impacts that have impacted them and their communities historically, we are advising that residents pay particular attention to the amenity and social impacts (sense of place, social fabric, rural amenity etc) that can NOT be explained away in technical studies relating to noise, vibration or air quality. 

In relation to the fauna and flora impacts these have been “detailed” in the proponents biodiversity assessment report (Link to doc here), the consultant report finds that a number of the above EPBC threatened species could reside but haven’t been found on the site, however we have photographic evidence that all have been located/sighted on land immediately adjoining the site, and the study has therefore understated the impact likely to occur with the removal of this habitat.

Submissions are now due by COB on the 31st July we understand (they must be lodged via this portal Link Here).

Any submissions opposing the Proposal (including a key focus on the impacts that have been omitted/understated by the Proponent and their Environmental consultant Umwelt) as detailed above would be greatly appreciated.

Happy to take calls/queries to assist in relation to submission lodgement etc.

thanks in advance
James Ashton
Secretary MCQAG”

Martins Creek Quarry – Submissions Due on Revised Plan

Daracon’s updated plan, after their earlier one was ruled invalid by the courts, is on display for public comment from 2nd June until 2nd July.

I understand the plan is for all trucks to go via Bolwarra to the Highway at Melbourne St East Maitland, so Butterwick Rd/ Brandy Hill Dr would only be used for local destinations on those roads. However, if you travel to Paterson or Maitland, you will have experienced how much, when that quarry was operating illegally, that the quarry truck traffic adversely impacted on the residents, businesses and other road users on that route. The Martins Creek quarry truck volumes under this plan will be similar to then. The growth of Maitland since, means traffic queues and congestion in Maitland and East Maitland in particular are now much much worse, without any Martins Creek quarry trucks. With the Brandy Hill quarry expansion sending 25% of trucks also via Maitland, the future traffic noise, congestion and impacts in the future will be amplified.

So now is your chance to have your say, until 2nd July. Please refer to the attached flier provided by the Martins Creek Quarry Action Group (MCQAG), and the link to the Department of Planning project.

https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/project/10051

Despite years of consultation regarding the real and lived devastating social impacts , Daracon are pressing for the majority of product to be transported through Paterson by road, despite the existence of the on site rail siding. Please make your submission by the 2nd July.

No extension to the stay on court orders. Daracon decides to close Martins Creek quarry

Daracon had lodged an application with the NSW Land & Environment Court seeking a further 12 months extension to the Stay on orders which expired on 20 September. That would have enabled their operations to continue outside the bounds of the 1991 consent, until a new consent is granted.

Justice Duggan handed down her decision on that application on Monday 23 September 2019 and has chosen to refuse the application. In making her decision she weighed factors relating to the impacts to Daracon versus public interest and ensuring the Environmental Planning laws are upheld. Open the link below, and skip to the end for the summary.

 

Link to court decision

Apparently Daracon decided to close the quarry immediately. We expect they will continue progressing their state significant development application with the NSW Dept of Planning, in the hope of re opening the quarry under a new consent, sometime in the future. That is unlikely to occur before 2020/2021, if  consent is granted and if Daracon accept the conditions that come with a future consent.

The Herald ran an article on the events.

Newcastle Herald

 

Dungog Council Rejects Extending the Stay on the Court Orders

The following update was received from the Martins Creek Quarry Action Group (MCQAG) last night. Great news!

Dear Members & Friends

Further to our message from earlier this week.

In a show of support towards impacted residents Dungog Shire Council this evening unanimously voted against entering into an agreement with Daracon to extend the stay on orders made against Daracon’s unlawful operations by the NSW Court of Appeal.

It is now open for Daracon to make this same request to the Land & Environment Court before a Judge, prior to the 20th of September. 

Thank you to all the residents who attended the Council meeting this evening.

Regards
James Ashton

The “stay” has allowed Daracon to continue operating illegally, by extracting rock other than primarily for railway ballast, quarrying beyond the area to which the consent applied, dispatching a greater percentage of material by road than was allowable and impermissibly processing rock on the western land.

Yesterday, we had sent an email to the Dungog council urging them to reject any extension of the stay of the court orders. (Note: IEMP = Interim Environmental management Plan, which applies during the “stay”, setting interim tonnage, operating hours and truck frequency limits).

I write to council to urge you to reject any request from Daracon to extend the stay of the court orders. Any extension would allow the quarry to continue operating under the IEMP which was intended as a transition to compliance with the 1991 consent conditions.

While your councillors will all have some degree of sympathy for either the residents or the quarry, this is not a matter for sympathy. It is council’s duty as the current consent authority for the quarry, to carry through the actions already undertaken through the courts, and require Daracon to comply with the courts validated consent conditions. There must be no further extensions of the stay on the court orders. That is the law, and that is your duty.

Council must not assume that the SSDA being pursued by Daracon will ever be finalised and approved, and if so under what conditions, and whether Daracon would be prepared to proceed with reopening the quarry under those conditions.  The IEMP conditions may therefore grossly exceed any future conditions.

Council does not have the legal or moral right to allow the increases implicit in the IEMP over the 1991 consent to continue. Only a new EIS with full  scrutiny by all agencies, the DPE and the IPC can assess if and under what conditions would a quarry operations be allowed continue.

As a resident on a Martins Creek Quarry haul route, and a weekly visitor and shopper in Paterson, I urge council to disallow any extensions to the stay on the court orders.

Yours sincerely
Neil and Margarete Ritchie

It is great news that the council has voted to reject any further extension to the stay on the court orders. We must now wait to see if Daracon complies by the 20th September deadline, or continues to use the courts for further delays.

Court Dismisses Daracon’s Appeal

the NSW Court of Appeal handed down it’s decision on an appeal brought by Daracon against the Land & Environment Court Decision issued by Justice Molesworth in October 2018.

The appeal was heard by Justices Basten, Gleeson and Chief Justice Preston, and they upheld the key findings of the primary judge; that Daracon contrary to the current development consent are unlawfully extracting rock other than primarily for railway ballast, quarrying beyond the area to which the consent applied, dispatching a greater percentage of material by road than was allowable. Their honors also upheld the finding of Justice Molesworth that the 2007 EPL variation issued by the EPA was invalid. 

The orders and restraints made by the Court of Appeal decision have been stayed for 3 months as Justice Preston notes “to allow time for the State significant development application to be determined and for the appellants otherwise to arrange their affairs and operations to comply with the law”.

You can read the full details of the Court of Appeal Ruling

This decision now confirms what lawful operations can continue from the site. The MCQAG committee will be seeking advice as to what this decision means for the State Significant Development Application (SSDA) as it will presumably set new Environmental Baselines upon which Environmental Assessments must be made. 

Martins Creek Quarry Drops Route Via Brandy Hill

We received the following letter today from Umwelt, who are managing Daracon’s revised EIS and State Significant Development Application for Martins Creek Quarry. The attached letter outlines a few modifications to their proposal including dropping the use of haul route 2 to Raymond Terrace via Butterwick and Brandy Hill. Read the detail below:

Dear Neil

Please find attached correspondence to the Brandy Hill and Seaham Action Group on behalf of Daracon.

If you could kindly distribute this to the other members of the Group it would be appreciated.

Kind regards

Trish McDonald
Senior Environmental Consultant

Umwelt (Australia) Pty Limited
75 York Street
Teralba, NSW 2284
Phone: (02) 4950 5322
Mobile: 0436 694 644
www.umwelt.com.au

Attachments:

Letter

Route 2 via Butterwick and Brandy Hill

BHSAG’s Reaction

  • This is welcome news for residents along this route and road users.
  • It would reduce the total quarry trucks traveling to from Raymond Terrace, lessening the “cumulative impact” with Brandy Hill quarry trucks.
  • It will probably only be applied if/when a new SSDA consent is issued, so don’t expect any change in the near term.
  • If the other issues with route 2 (the “iron bridge”,  five T-intersections and road width etc are ever addressed, route 2 could be reinstated.
  • Hanson would no longer be able to claim that lots of other heavy vehicles use BHD/Seaham Rd and Clarence Town Rd routes which reduces their responsibility for providing safety infrastructure (ie quarry entrance intersection upgrade and pathway and bus stops).
  • There will still be a cumulative impact on the route through Bolwarra to the Lorn or Flat Road bridges.

Martins Creek Quarry Appeal

The following was received from the Martins Creek Quarry Action Group:

Dear All

Amended Stay Orders have been published on the Dungog Shire Council Website, my understanding is these amended terms were negotiated between the parties earlier this week. 

In summary it permits 20 loads per hr and 90 loads per day (no change from previous orders). A new restriction is that operations and sales form the quarry are prohibited on Saturdays and Daracon is now required to pay 80c/tonne to DSC for road maintenance contributions.

These orders will remain in effect until the Appeal has been heard in May 2019.

Unfortunately still business as usual, but with a little bit of ground gained back for the community (regarding the Saturday closure and road contribution).

Regards
James

January 2019 Update

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.

Requested Pathway

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.

image1.jpegIMG_1579.jpg

Please encourage friends and neighbours to follow this site in order to automatically receive future posts.

We are also keen to get the views of anyone who attended the chat session, or has any other feedback.

BHSAG

 

 

 

Judge’s Ruling on the Martins Creek Quarry Court Case

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.

  1. Council has won on many of the declarations and orders. The court has confirmed the Martins Creek Quarry operations are illegal in many respects.
  2. 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.
  3. The judge also ruled and that the EPA license variation to 2 million tonnes/annum was illegal.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Daracon may make a further application to the court if in 3 months they have not received an SSDA approval.
  7. 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.

July 2018 Update – MCQ and BHQ

Martins Creek Quarry

Despite the court case brought by DSC closing in April last year, a ruling has still not been made. However, Jacqui Tupper (DSC) notified MCQAG that the court has advised the parties that judgment on the Martins Creek Quarry matter will be handed down by the 17th August 2018. 

The following is a mail-out from MCQAG on 11th July. We encourage you to contact Umwelt to give them your perspective on how that quarry affects you. BHSAG committee members will be meeting with Umwelt. The cumulative impact of both quarries on our area is still a major concern.

Dear Members and Friends

you are receiving this email because we have you in our database as either a financial member of MCQAG or you have lodged your email on our website for updates on Martins Creek Quarry Expansion.

As you may know, MCQAG has never advocated for the closure of Martins Creek Quarry, only that any new consents require the facility to operate at a more reasonable scale that enables the quarry to coexist with residents and neighbours around the site and along the haulage route.

Quarry Expansion Update

Daracon has commenced the “Response to Submissions” stage of the State Significant Development Application process. Daracon has engaged Umwelt an environmental consulting firm based in Teralba as the lead consultancy to perform this work. 

MCQAG committee has met with Umwelt in the past three months, they have explained that they will be re-commencing community consultation and various environmental studies on the project over the coming months.

Umwelt have posted a Community Information Sheet to affected residents during the month of June. The flyer provided information on Daracon’s “Refined Project”. We are aware that many residents have not received this flyer and so we have attached a link to the document: Daracon Community Update

As you can see in the flyer Daracon’s refined project consists of;

  • 900,000 tonne per annum by road
  • 60 truck movements per hour
  • 280 truck movements per day
  • No loading of trucks or pit operations prior to 7am six days per week

The MCQAG committee’s view of the “Refined Project” is that the 7am starting time for load out of trucks and quarry operations is good news for impacted residents however the intensity of the operation proposed on an hourly basis in this refinement match and even exceeds that which was experienced in 2014 and 2015 when life around the facility and along the haulage route (particularly within the activity centre of Paterson) was simply unlivable; with intolerable impacts on our way of life, rural amenity and village character. The proposed increase in daily truck traffic is a 1166% increase in the currently approved 24 trucks per day from the site and the annual extraction limit proposed is a 300% increase from the currently approved 300,000 tonne per annum scale.

We Recommend You Take the Following Action

As noted in the community information sheet link above, Umwelt is commencing stakeholder engagement with affected residents. MCQAG encourages you all to register your interest with Umwelt (via their email social-team@umwelt.com.au) to ensure you get to participate in their consultation process. Importantly MCQAG strongly recommends you;

  • Register with Umwelt to participate in the consultation process using the email above
  • When dealing with Umwelt, remain steadfast regarding the issues that effect you and your community, remember the issues and impacts detailed in your submissions have most likely not been addressed with the refined project parameters listed above
  • Keep records of your discussions with Umwelt
  • Do not allow Umwelt or Daracon to divide and conquer, We must all remain united together to fight against the scale of the refined project to protect our way of life, rural amenity and village character.

We will provide updates to you all as the RTS process continues. Importantly please do not hesitate to contact MCQAG representatives on the telephone number or email below if you wish to discuss this further. We are happy to assist and advocate for you when dealing with Umwelt or Daracon.

MCQAG’s next committee meeting is on the 24th July at the Paterson School of Arts Hall, members and residents are welcome to attend.

Regards
James Ashton 
Secretary MCQAG
0413 616 677
info@mcqag.org

 

Brandy Hill Quarry.

There has not been any communication from Hanson since the CCC meeting early this year. However, James Moore has contacted Hanson regarding an offer they made at that meeting to provide a traffic speed display. The display is mounted on a trailer and would show drivers their actual speed as they approach the display. It does not record any data for subsequent analysis, and Hanson have asked that BHSA cover insurance for the month that they would allow. With the need for insurance and PSC, RMS and resident approval for a suitable location, there are a few hurdles before this could happen.

Although Hanson predicted at the last CCC that their Response to Submissions (RTS) may have been be ready by April, that has not yet happened, and could be months away.

We continue being wholly disappointed in the complete lack of any compromise in Hanson’s project scale, despite the years of CCC meetings and the huge number of opposing submissions from the community. Our disappointment in Hanson is even greater when we see that Daracon, who have never asked for 24/7, reduced their proposed hours of operation and also reduced their proposed road haulage annual tonnage by 40%, maximum trucks per day by 35% and maximum trucks per hour by 25% in their “Community Update” document. At least Daracon appear to be prepared to make some concessions in their Response to Submissions. Hanson have offered none. We can only hope that the NSW Department of Planning rejects Hanson’s approach.

We continue to:

  1. Vehemently oppose 24/7 quarry operations and the huge increase in both the average and maximum trucks per day and per hour. These would be a totally unacceptable assault on the amenity and residential character of the area.
  2. Demand that Hanson provide an off road pathway along Brandy Hill Drive and connecting the the Jacaranda preschool and Brandon park, bus bays and other safety improvements.
  3. Stand by all the other mitigation measures outlined in BHSAG’s submission.

Next Steps

  • We will continue investigating the speed display sign offered by Hanson.
  • Meetings will be held with Umwelt next week.
  • We are already drafting a presentation to the Independent Planning Commission- IPC (the new name for the Planning Assessment Commission – PAC).
    Once NSW planning accept Hanson’s RTS, and make recommendations to the IPC, we expect the IPC to hold a public meeting where key parties will be invited to make short presentations. That will be our last and only avenue to have some restrictions placed on Hanson’s ongoing operations.

Thats all for now. Thanks for your ongoing support. Any feedback via this website is always appreciated.