Hanson CCC Meeting in March

A CCC meeting was held on 9th March, attended by new members, including Bronwyn White , Chantal Parslow-Redman and James Moore representing BHSA. Peter Rees, Neil and Margarete, Paul LeMottee, Prue McGee and Robert Adams were the other community representatives

For the benefit of the new members, a brief tour of the quarry was conducted in vehicles. The main stops were the rock face where a blast was being prepared, and the new bund wall which is visible from Clarence Town Road near the electricity sub station. The old crushing equipment was not operating and was given a wide berth. I wonder why!

The CCC meeting was held in the old farm house at 888 Clarence Town Rd. Hanson has bought the property to add to the buffer zone around the Quarry.

All the community representatives were extremely disappointed with the meeting. This was expected to be the last CCC before Hanson completes their response to submissions, and it will be as Hanson advised that they expect to lodge it during April. We had asked for an agenda item where Hanson would discuss what they would change or offer to address the concerns in the opposing submissions.

This is what we asked for before the meeting:

In the light of the DPE’s letter to Hanson including the direction as follows:

“ The Department requests that Hanson provide a revised SIA which, at a minimum: a) responds to the potential social impacts of the project, and either proposes adequate mitigation measures or justification as to why no mitigation is warranted. Particular consideration should be given to the various measures put forward by the Brandy Hill & Seaham Action Group (e.g. restricted production and operating hours, construction of shared pathways and road safety measures). Proposed responses should follow the hierarchy of avoid, minimise and mitigate. “

We would like added to the agenda of the next meeting, a discussion of mitigation measures in the BHSAG submission. This is to ensure that Hanson understands the intent of those measures, and it will be an opportunity for Hanson to provide feedback on those measures or alternative measures that Hanson might be considering in its “Response to submissions “.

When we got to the agenda item titled “Response to submissions “, the Consultant from Key Insights spoke briefly about the difficulty in reconciling the needs of the quarry with the concerns raised, but offered no compromises. The consultant from RW Corkery then spoke about what they were doing to address the technical deficiencies identified in the noise, dust and other environmental sections of the EIS, and gave an overview of the project.

Apart from clarifying that due to the noise regulations, there would be a limit on overnight truck movements, no compromises or mitigation measures were presented that in any way addressed the communities concerns.

24/7, the high number of daily truck movements and the lack of safety infrastructure  along Brandy Hill Drive for pedestrians, cyclists and school buses were not addressed in any way whatsoever.

After 4 years of community “consultation “ and the wide support BHSA has had for limitations to be applied to the proposal and for Hanson to offer improvements to the transport corridor, Hanson have offered no compromises and no infrastructure for safety or amenity.

Perhaps Hanson will offer something in the “Statement of commitments “ that is part of their response, but we are not expecting anything based on the CCC meeting.

We expect that here’s will be a Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) meeting where BHSA will have another opportunity to present our case. We can only hope that the Department of Planning and the PAC will be more sympathetic than Hanson.

And on the Martins Creek Quarry front, a CCC meeting is being planned. Daracon has also engaged a consultant to help them with the response to submissions. Word has been received that the judgement on the DSC V Daracon court case is expected during April.

Neil and Margarete

Hanson has Engaged “Key Insights”

It is time to report on the latest development in the planning process for Hanson’s Quarry expansion. Because the Social Impact Assessment was severely lacking in the EIS,  Hanson is required to respond to the many resulting objecting submissions and address community concerns.

Hanson has engaged Ellen Davis-Meehan of Key Insights Pty Ltd to independently review and help Hanson update the SIA. Part of the process is to contact community representatives to better understand the concerns raised.

BHSA put Ellen in contact with residents of Giles Road who have serious issues with noise, vibrations and dust and she also met with the community members of the CCC on 15th September. We had a very good hearing and will post the minutes when they become available. Hopefully her understanding of the concerns will translate to a more realistic SIA and modified plan for future quarry operations.

On a totally unrelated matter, VOWW will be having a meeting on the 29th November at 6.30pm at the Woodville Hall near Iona Public School. Newly elected councillors for West Ward and the Mayor have been invited to come along to hear community concerns and answer questions from residents. This is an excellent opportunity to talk about everyday issues such as local roads, intersections, flood plain development, Quarry issues, bus stops etc. It is not meant to be confrontational, just informative for both Councillors and residents.

There will be tea/coffee and cake with a Christmas flavour after the meeting. We hope to see some residents from the Brandy Hill/Seaham/Nelsons Plains area join with those from Wallalong and Woodville with a common purpose.

There is still no news on the Martins Creek Quarry expansion or the court case brought by Dungog Council.

Margarete

Martins Creek Quarry Action Group (MCQAG) End of Year Summary

The following from MCQAG sums up recent events very well. It  includes the Land And Environment court judge dismissing the Daracon (aka Buttai Gravel and Hunter Industrial Rental Equipment) application to indefinitely defer the court action brought by Dungog Shire Council. The case will be heard as planned in February.

MCQAG

Dear Members and Friends
Firstly thank you to everyone who lodged a submission objecting to the proposed expansion of Martins Creek Quarry. Also thank you to the many people who contacted MCQAG offering assistance, advice and support.
Here is the wrap up of a busy end to 2016;

State Significant Development Application

The exhibition period is one of the few opportunities members of the public can have their say and influence decision makers. We understand that everyone who lodged a submission will now be entitled to address the Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) public meeting or hearing that will be held if the Daracon proposal is not rejected by the Minister prior.
MCQAG’s committee’s supplementary submission was lodged with the Department of Planning last week, you can read MCQAG’s submission via this link.
We note there were around 800 submissions lodged. ~410 of these were objections. A number of submissions included Daracon staff and contractors submitting form letters showing their support for the EIS.
There were also multiple government and agency submissions lodged. The most interesting are in the links are listed below;
• Department of Planning
RMS
• Dungog Shire Council
• Port Stephens Council

As noted in the agency and local government submissions above there appears to be numerous issues and deficiencies that will require the proponent to “do more work” on the EIS.

It looks to us like the EIS will need to be revised completely to address the short comings identified from submissions and according to Daracon’s own planning consultant there won’t likely be a determination on the DA until December 2017.

Land & Environment Court Proceedings

In November this year whilst the EIS was on exhibition Daracon lodged a Notice of Motion with the Land and Environment Court seeking a deferral of the main Court hearing which is set to be heard on the 13th of February 2017.

This court matter is independent of the State Significant Development process and relates to lawfulness of the current operations at the site.
On the 9th of December his Honour Justice Sheahan heard arguments from both sides as to why the substantial court case set for February next year should or should not be delayed.

Today his Honor Justice Sheahan issued his judgment dismissing the Notice of Motion and awarding costs to Dungog Shire, the 3 week hearing as we understand it will commence on the 13th of February.  You can read the judgement handed down today via this link.

Action Group Update

Committee meetings will re commence in February, if you are interested in coming along or joining as a financial member please contact MCQAG via the webpage.
On behalf of the committee we wish you all a safe and merry Christmas
Regards
James Ashton
MCQAG Secretary

BHSA

After lodging a complaint to Hanson last week about early morning truck noise, we discovered that the empty trucks before 5am were servicing the Martins Creek quarry. Hanson often dispatch about 6 full trucks before 6am, but they are loaded then remain on site over night. The ones we observed did travel quietly. PSC will be lodging a complaint to Daracon about 4:30am trucks on Port Stephens roads.
As this is expected to be the last post from the BHSA committee this year, we also wish you Merry Christmas and a safe, happy and healthy 2017.

December 2016 Update

Firstly, there is still no news on the Brandy Hill Quarry expansion but we can be sure that Hanson will be watching the progress of the Martins Creek Quarry EIS with keen interest. We certainly are watching the Martins Creek Quarry because it has many of the same issues that we expect will arise in the Brandy Hill Quarry expansion, and the Department of Planning & Environment’s (DPE) handling of that is a precursor to how it will handle the Brandy Hill Quarry expansion.  Let me remind you that Daracon trucks and their other haulage contractors are the major users of Butterwick Road & Clarencetown Road through West Ward of PSC. Residents along Butterwick Road, Clarencetown Road, Brandy Hill Drive and Seaham Road are already suffering with the noise of early morning empty trucks heading towards Martins Creek as early as 4.30am. Of course there is the cumulative impact with Hanson’s trucks. The roads are set to deteriorate faster with Martins Creek Quarry paying no levies to any council. Hanson does pay a road levy per tonne moved.

Hanson have asked all the attendees at the CCC meetings for their permission for the minutes of the meetings to be included in their EIS. A new chairperson has been appointed for future CCC meetings. More information will be posted at a later date. The next CCC meeting is being planned for February 2017.

In this post:

A. Update on submissions on the Martins Creek Quarry EIS
B. Land & Environment Court (LEC) hearing on Daracon’s application for a deferment of Dungog Shire Council’s (DSC) court action.
C. Situation appraisal
D. Next Steps

A. Update on submissions on the Martins Creek Quarry EIS

Submissions closed on 24th November and have now been posted on the DPE website. Click here to view them.

Some organisations including Martins Creek Quarry Action Group (MCQAG) asked for more time to complete their submissions, and those will be lodged this week.

In total, 846 public, 12 agency and 100 business and organisation submissions (including BHSA) were lodged. Those are amazingly large numbers. There were 25 from our postcode, so our thanks to all the people who took the time to put their concerns in writing. This is definitely a situation where the DPE is taking notice of our submissions.

The majority of submissions oppose the expansion in some way. While there were many submissions supporting the expansion, they were mostly Daracon employees, suppliers and subcontractors, using form letters from Daracon. An analysis of the public submissions showed that the vast majority of the support came from Newcastle and Maitland, and the objections came from Paterson, Vacy and the haul routes, as can be expected. The supporters are those who make money from the quarry versus the objectors whose lives are being by adversely affected by its current and proposed operations.

The submissions that we found most interesting, and we encourage you to read them for yourselves to form your own conclusions, are:-

  1. The DSC submission which outlines why the court action has been taken. The main points are the annual tonnes being extracted far exceed the 300,000, that 70% is not going by rail, and that various land use rights are being breached. Please refer to that document for the details.
    It also states that “Dungog Shire Council acknowledges that Martins Creek Quarry does present a valuable natural resource and does not object to its operation in some form as long as the scale of those operations have had an appropriate environmental assessment and the operations do not significantly impact on the rural/residential amenity of residents residing in close proximity to the Quarry itself or along the transport Haulage routes. The Martins Creek and Paterson communities have over the past 10 years had their amenity and in some cases health negatively effected by excessive truck movements and the resultant impacts”  MCQAG and BHSA agree with that position.
  2. The 9 page letter from DPE to Daracon (Buttai Gravel) is in the folder ” DPE request for Response to Submissions”. It specifies in some detail all of the things that the DPE requires to be addressed in Daracon’s Response to Submissions (RTS). The lack of meaningful consultation and any resulting compromises to reduce resident’s concerns, and a large number of traffic and noise issues were included.
    In light of the court action which is challenging Daracon’s use of the current 900,000 tonne annual extraction rate as the baseline to ask for a further increase to 1.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), the DPE now requires Daracon to submit two extra versions of the EIS. One for an increase of 1.2 mtpa from 300,000 tonne, and another for  a 900,000 tonne increase from 600,0000 tonne. The 300,000 tonne rate is what  DSC claims in their court action, to be the Quarry’s current licensed rate.
  3. The RMS submission expressed concerns that it was not consulted about Gostwick bridge, while the EIS states that it was. The RMS is very concerned about the damage that the high volume of trucks is doing and will do to that historic one lane bridge, and also states that for the proposed traffic volumes, it should be replaced with a two lane bridge.The RMS also expressed concerns about the practicality of the proposed intersection upgrades and also that they do not comply with road standards. Land acquisitions and the impact on parking spaces in Paterson’s Main Street and access to businesses, all require further detailed analysis.
  4. The MCQAG submission will be worth reading as it is a very thorough compilation of all the adverse impacts on the amenity of residents and visitors to the area, and includes a number of professionally prepared technical rebuttals of the EIS.
  5. The PSC submission did echo and expand on the concerns that BHSA presented on 15th November. It included:
    • Restricting any noise from trucks to between 7am and 7pm.
    • The need for significant levies to fund road upgrades and maintenance,  and
    • A levy to also fund safety and amenity improvements in the form of footpaths, bus stops and intersection upgrades.
  6. The Maitland City Council (MCC) submission is very disappointing. Draw your own conclusions on what might be going on behind the scenes there!

B. Land and Environment Court (LEC) Action

DSC has taken Daracon (Buttai Gravel) to court over what it claims are 19 points where Daracon’s operations have been or are currently in breech of the conditions of the consent or licence to operate the quarry, as applied to State Rail before Daracon took over. see the DSC submission.

The case is listed to be heard in the LEC in Macquarie Street Sydney for 3 weeks from 13th February 2017. Daracon recently applied to have the case deferred to September 2017, so an all day hearing was held in the LEC on Friday 9th December for the judge to decide on whether to grant the delay or not.  A number of MCQAG, VOWW and BHSA representatives attended the hearing. Though the judge did not announce his decision on the day, he promised one before Christmas. We are very hopeful that the delay will be rejected, so that the case proceeds in February.

A summary of the hearing follows. It explains much about Daracon’s behaviour. The court case is likely to be a key factor in how the DPE handles the EIS, and more importantly, whether the current operations, which have destroyed amenity for residents, will be curtailed back to the levels that applied under State Rail, or perhaps be stopped completely, until a new consent is approved by the DPE.

Daracon did not argue their reasons for asking for the delay, rather just stated that they believe that they have an unrestricted licence for the quarry and therefore are not breaching any conditions. Daracon claim that there are no restrictions on how much they extract, on how it is transported, the times of day they do it, and that there are no levies they should be paying for the upkeep of roads or anything else!

DSC argued the merits of their case and that it needs to be resolved ASAP in the interest of residents, and because in most probability, a court decision is required so that the DPE can rule on the EIS. The other point they made is that Daracon believe and are acting as if they have an unrestricted license, and have stated that if a new consent has conditions or restrictions that are unfavourable to Daracon then they would chose to not adopt the new consent., and simply continue doing what they are doing. DSC want the court case resolved so that Daracon’s operation are curtailed to State Rail levels in order to restore local amenity, and that the only option for Daracon to increase output is to progress the EIS, and then abide by all conditions imposed by the DPE.

DSC argued that Daracon have systematically delayed the court case. It has already spanned 84 weeks, while most similar matters are resolved within 10 weeks. Daracon have also been slow progressing the EIS and have already stated that responding to all the submissions, and in particular resubmitting versions of the EIS for 1.2 and 0.9 mtpa increases, will take probably to the end of 2017.  With their stated position on reserving their right to only adopt any new consent if it does not disadvantage Daracon, the development application is also being used as a delaying tactic. The court case therefore must be resolved quickly so that the principles of the court can be upheld: That delay is undesirable, and that no party should be prejudiced by delay. In this case residents are being prejudiced every day that Daracon operate as they are. We will post an update when the court’s decision is available.

C. Situation Appraisal

Daracon believe they have an unrestricted license to operate the Martins Creek quarry. They pay no levies for roads, operate the quarry without the costs and restrictions that other quarries have, and will win whatever contracts they can to make profit, with  no compassion for residents.

Daracon are racing to extract whatever rock reserves remain (which have most likely been overstated in the EIS), and have been using the expansion EIS to delay any restrictions being imposed, and/or to hopefully get increases granted by DPE without restrictions that are too onerous being applied.

Daracon certainly don’t want the court case to proceed, as it could put a stop to their current activities that have so impacted residents, and would  force Daracon to rely on the outcome of their EIS with the DPE. A hefty fine is also a possibility.

In our view the crucial factors are: the poor infrastructure, particularly the Gostwick bridge and many inadequate intersections and road sections, and the impact on amenity, employment and the businesses in Paterson (with and without the proposed intersection changes) and along the haul routes. The DPE letter requires Daracon to properly consult with residents.  We take that to mean they must negotiate and  propose some voluntary restrictions, so that  the DPE does not need to impose any. Other quarry projects have had the numbers of trucks and haulage times severely restricted when travelling through villages like Paterson. The DPE is likely to impose significant levies on truck haulage to pay for the very expensive upgrades required for whatever volume of trucks are allowed in a new consent. In the light of the existing rail siding, I expect the DPE would severely restrict road haulage but allow higher quantities to go via rail.

Daracon did not listen to the concerns of residents and modify their proposal to mitigate any of the valid concerns raised. The objections contained in the submissions to the EIS are exactly the same objections that were raised when the expansion was first proposed!

So, with regards to the local Brandy Hill quarry,if Hanson do not include concessions in their EIS on operating hours rather than persisting with 24/7, it will be clear that they also have not taken the SEARs seriously. If there is nothing in their EIS about working with PSC to ensure that road shoulders and intersections are improved in a reasonable timeframe, then again they will also not have taken the SEARS seriously. If there is nothing definite in their EIS about working with PSC to build and maintain a pathway along Brandy Hill Drive linking to Brandon Park and the Jacaranda Preschool, then meaningful consultation will not have occurred. If any of the above are not addressed to residents satisfaction, it is clear that the DPE will ask Hanson to go back to the drawing board for that to happen before they complete their RTS (response to submissions).

D. Next Steps

  • Hopefully the LEC judge will rule next week that the court case proceeds in February.
  • MCQAG will be encouraging us all to attend the court hearing to support the DSC legal team.
  • The court case outcome should be known, hopefully by March/April.
  • The BHQ CCC should meet again in February. The timing of the Brandy Hill Quarry  EIS going on public exhibit is still unclear. Whether it complies with the SEARs better than MCQ, remains to be seen.

Conclusion

The responses of DSC, PSC, RMS and DPE to the MCQ EIS are very encouraging. The LEC case is critical to resolving Daracon’s excessive and illegal unrestricted operations, and then making the EIS the means for setting the rules for ongoing operations.

We are hopeful that Hanson learns from the MCQ process and prepares its EIS to comply with the community consultation aspects of the SEARs.

Thanks for your support. We are making a difference, and will continue to do so.

Have a merry Christmas and may the New Year bring extra happiness.

BHSA

 

Martins Creek Quarry EIS Submissions

Submissions closed today, so we do hope that you got to have your say to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE). The Brandy Hill & Seaham Action committee have had a busy time since our last post.

  1. We met with councillors Paul LeMottee and Ken Jordan on 9th Nov, to get their support towards ensuring that the submissions from council and our group would have as much in common as possible. We asked this on the basis that we believed that DPE would be more likely to make a favourable ruling on this project if we were all asking for similar things.The councillors agreed and subsequently arranged a 30 minute meeting with council staff on Tuesday 15Th Nov, for us to present our concerns and what we would be seeking from DPE.
  2. Our delegation met with mayor McKenzie and managers and staff from the planning department who had responsibility for preparing council’s submission. We were pleased with the response we had. Here is summary of the material presented  : meeting-with-psc-15-11-2016-bhsa
  3. Along with the MCQAG group, we had signs made for installation along the main quarry haulage roads, to encourage as many submissions as possible. I hope you saw the ones on Brandy Hill Drive.
  4. We contributed to the V.O.W.W. submission.
    We will post that here if they agree.
  5. We finalised the submission from BHSA. While it is impossible to say everything that everyone wants and in the way that you would want it said, we hope you think we have done a reasonable job on your behalf. A lot of effort went into it.
    The 10 page document can be viewed here.  bhsa-mcq-submission-final
  6.  PSC provided us with a copy of their submission. We were very pleased to see that they obviously listened to our delegation and agree with it our position. Our councils submission supported us very strongly. If we get permission, it will be posted on our website for you to see.

So many thanks to everyone that made their own submissions. The next phase is for DPE to provide all submissions to Daracon and ask for their responses. We expect that a Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) will be mapped out with the three councils and that the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC)  will be involved in the decision process. Daracon continues to stall the court case with Dungog Shire Council, having asked for a deferment of the hearing set for early 2017, until September 2017! It will be interesting to see how that plays out, and whether the DPE will want the court case resolved before making its ruling, or not.

It is possible that the PAC may arrange a further public meeting on the matter before making their recommendations to the DPE, so there is still a long way to go before this quarry matter is decided.

There is no news on the Brandy Hill Quarry expansion EIS.

That is all for now.

 

 

 

 

October 2016 Update

In this post:

  1. BHSA Committee Update
  2. Hanson’s Brandy Hill Quarry Expansion Status
  3. Daracon’s Martins Creek Quarry Expansion Status
  4. Next Steps

1 BHSA Committee Update

Though it has been 12 months since we have posted an update, the BHSA committee is still operating. However, James Hart is moving and has had to cease his activity on the committee, leaving just the Ritchies and Fishers plus Bob Adams and Peter Rees on the committee. If anyone else would like to join the committee for the important next phase, then please contact us.

The lack of recent posts is because no further CCC meetings have occurred while Hanson has been preparing their full EIS. The committee members have also needed a break from the stress and responsibilities of this important community issue.

We have not been completely idle! The council mergers announced by the NSW government in February or early March, which included PSC/Newcastle merger, triggered phone and email contact with NSW Planning. We wanted to make NSW Planning aware of BHSA’s role on the CCC, the size of the Brandy Hill community on the main haul route, our stance on the expansion (based on the results of our community surveys), and our concern over the impacts of the NSW government’s planned council mergers. While the topics raised in those discussions will be well known to Hanson, we felt that revealing the detail to Hanson before they submit their EIS would be counter-productive to our cause, so it was not posted on our website.

The proposed PSC/ Newcastle council merger remains a great concern. We expected that it would take PSC council’s attention away from them developing plans and costings for the concessions we have been asking for at the CCC. Those actions are essential prerequisites for them to negotiate with Hanson on any Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) that would cover road maintenance and the other concessions BHSA has been asking for to alleviate/mitigate community concerns over the expansion. The feedback from NSW planning was encouraging at the time, but after we joined a recent MCQAG delegation which met with PSC mayor and senior staff, our worst concerns have played out. PSC has done nothing on the Brandy Hill expansion, let alone considered the potential cumulative impacts of both quarry expansions!.

Committee members have also attended many Martins Creek Quarry Action Group (MCQAG) committee meetings. More on that matter in section 3.

Our dormant period is ending, as we understand that Hanson are close to finalising their EIS, and Daracon’s EIS went on public exhibit last week. Refer to the following sections 2, 3 and 4 for more details.

2 Hanson’s Brandy Hill Quarry Expansion Status

On the NSW Planning website:
http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/index.pl?action=view_job&job_id=5899
this project is still at stage 2  “Proponent Prepares DA and EIS”, of the 7 stage process.

On 11th October Hanson contacted CCC attendees with the following:

“Hanson are finalising the EIS based on feedback from the Department of Planning and Environment and wish to include the agenda of the CCC meetings in the consultation section of the EIS. This will include the names of CCC members who attended the meetings and will be made public during the public exhibition period of the EIS. It is not proposed to include the minutes of the meetings.

Could you please advise via return email if you approve the inclusion of the agenda in the EIS.”

We replied with our consent, but have also asked why not include all the minutes as well, as from our perspective the minutes would clearly show the degree of actual consultation and where Hanson have and have not changed their proposal based on the community delegates feedback and requests.

From the above, we conclude that Hanson must be close to submitting their EIS. However, we also understand that after Hanson lodge their EIS, NSW planning will assess it for adequacy against the requirements in the Director Generals’ Requirements (DGRs) as stage 3. Then, as in the case of Daracon’s initial EIS, NSW planning may ask for additional detail, which would further delay the EIS going on public exhibit, which is stage 4 of the planning process.

A recent discovery of major concern to BHSA and MCQAG, is that the DGRs for both quarry expansions were changed without notifying the community groups, and probably not the councils, RMS etc. The new versions are dated 4th August 2016 for Martins Creek, and 5th July 2015 for Brandy Hill. The superseded versions have been removed from NSW planning’s website making it difficult to identify the actual changes, but it seems that additional requirements added after community feedback to the initial versions mainly around the cumulative impact of two quarry expansions, has been watered down! We have written to NSW planning on this matter and are waiting a reply.

3 Daracon’s Martins Creek Quarry Expansion Status

After NSW planning rejected Daracon’s EIS in July because of many deficiencies, a revised EIS was accepted by NSW planning and was put on public exhibit on 13th Oct. Submissions will be accepted up to 24th Nov. The DGRs for that project were revised on 4th August as noted above, so NSW Planning changed the goal posts. Why? We have asked for an explanation but have not yet received an explanation!

The Martins Creek Quarry EIS includes nothing on the potential cumulative impact of traffic, so we are very surprised and concerned that NSW planning, in putting the EIS on public exhibit, has deemed that the EIS meets the DGRs!

We are particularly concerned about the cumulative impact of the quarry truck movements of this expansion in conjunction with the Brandy Hill quarry expansion. While Daracon estimate that 25% of their annual tonnage will go via Brandy Hill Drive, at times, depending on contracts, that can ALL go along Brandy Hill drive, as it did for the Hexham rail siding project. The EIS states that the peak frequency of Daracon’s truck deliveries is 40 per hour. We expect Hanson’s figures will be similar. Add a similar number of unladen trucks going to each quarry and the peak total could be 160 truck movements per hour! If the additional trucks alone is not sufficient to have you concerned, perhaps the extended operating hours that Daracon want so that they can service the Sydney market, in conjunction with Hanson wanting a 24/7 permit for the same reason, will have you hopping mad!

The Martins Creek EIS can be viewed here: http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/index.pl?action=view_job&job_id=6612
The first EIS document is an overview (~190 pages), with more detail in the many further documents. NSW planning are holding a community meeting at the Paterson School Of Arts Hall, at 6:30pm on 2nd November.

MCQAG have prepared the following leaflet that will be letter box dropped in all the affected areas and along haul routes in the coming days.
mcqag-community-letter_eis-exhibition-public-meeting_20161019

Your attendance at the Paterson meeting will show NSW Planning something of the level of concern for that project, but your best course of action to influence NSW Planning to either reduce the annual extraction tonnage, limit the proportion going via road with the balance going via rail, and/or limit the operating hours so that our sleeping hours are not disturbed, or any other matter concerning you, is to make a personal submission. It is easy via the NSW Planning website. That is also NSW Planning’s preferred method. Use the link above and scroll down. This will be a practice for when the Brandy Hill Quarry EIS goes on public exhibit.

4 Next Steps

Brandy Hill Quarry Expansion:

  • Draft what you want to say to NSW Planning for when the time comes to make your submission. Wait for the EIS to go on public exhibit. We expect NSW Planning will hold a public meeting during the exhibition period. Then finalise and send in your submission before the closing date (yet to be set).
  • Contact us if you can assist the BHSA committee. We need your help!

Martins Creek Quarry Expansion:

  • Read the EIS overview and relevant other documents on NSW planning website (above), and attend the Paterson meeting at 6:30pm on 2nd November.
  • Draft your submission ASAP, polish it up and send it to NSW planning before 24th November. Submissions are your primary and best means to influence NSW planning to reject, limit or change the proposal (eg restrict operating hours or maximum truck movements per hour), and/or apply conditions such as a VPA for roads, footpaths, sound attenuation, intersections, bus stops or other infrastructure or offsets that you want.

That’s all for now from the BHSA committee.

Martins Creek Quarry Expansion

Much has been happening in the last few weeks regarding the expansion of Martins Creek Quarry which is managed by Daracon. Why are we concerned? Over half of the quarry truck traffic travels through our area, causing great concern over issues of safety, especially during school bus pick-up and drop-off times. There are also the ongoing issues of noise and road deterioration. Did you know that the wear and tear on a road, per axle of a fully laden truck is the equivalent of 10,000 cars. ( Statistic given by Mayor of Dungog Council at a recent closed community forum which Neil and I attended on behalf of our group.) This quarry is operating without an licence that is recognised by all stakeholders, and is causing extreme angst in the community of Paterson and elsewhere over the volume of truck movements. I believe we have a part to play to support their protest and thereby reduce the potential to cause even more headaches for us in Brandy Hill and Nelsons Plains.

Since Daracon took over operating the quarry from state rail, it has dramatically increased extraction rates and almost all product is being sent by road instead of rail. The operating license is in dispute as to the annual tonnage limit and no tonnage levy is paid to Dungog or any of the other councils whose roads are affected. The roads have already suffered significant deterioration which Dungog does not have the funds to repair. To resolve these matters, Daracon is now in a similar process to Hanson, in preparing a development application. Daracon also wants to increase tonnage to 1.5 million tonnes/year, by road. A Community Consultative Committee (CCC) will also be formed as part of the DA process. Unlike the Hanson CCC, all three councils have agreed to provide representatives.

The public has been invited to attend a public meeting on the 31st July at Paterson. You will find the official invitation below.

DSC Public Meeting Invitation 31-7-2014

Remember, we will suffer from the cumulative effect of two quarries seeking to expand!

Martins Creek quarry: how it will impact Brandy Hill / Seaham residents

You may be wondering why I am writing about the Daracon quarry at Martins Creek. Although this quarry was not on our radar as an issue when this community action group formed, we have since realised its current and ongoing expansion has huge implications for the whole area.

In mid-March I was asked by the Paterson Progress Association to give a short outline at a Paterson community meeting of how we are managing our discussions with the Hanson quarry at Brandy Hill. Neil and I represented our Brandy Hill / Seaham area at the meeting, which was organised to canvas residents’ opinions about the Martins Creek Quarry. About 150 residents turned up. It quickly became apparent that the community has great concerns with numerous issues.

Daracon pays no road levy to either Dungog Council, Port Stephens Council or Maitland Council, even though most of its product is transported on our roads as well as through Bolwarra and Lorn.

There has been no communication with the local communities, in particular with Paterson. Truck traffic has been monitored on normal work days at several sites and a resident recorded 100 truck movements past his front door between 5.45 am and 7 am (with video evidence to substantiate this).

Paterson has no detour options, and therefore all traffic has to travel down the main street. The safety concerns are well and truly warranted and road noise is excessive.

Paterson businesses are being severely affected, and considering that they are dependent on tourism as well, trucks rumbling through on Saturdays is most unwelcome.

Of particular concern to our own communities is that the trucks also affect Brandy Hill and Seaham residents. Once the trucks move on through Paterson they are travelling on Port Stephens Shire roads. Most of them head on down Brandy Hill Drive and High Street Wallalong, and some are now travelling through Seaham and around to Raymond Terrace. That is, they are using every possible route and not paying one cent to reduce their impact on our roads and the ambience of our local area.

The situation at Paterson, regarding the Martins Creek Quarry, is slightly different from our own situation regarding the Brandy Hill Quarry. We have been working with Hanson through the Department of Planning process and thus the community voice is being heard. It may be slow, but that is the nature of the whole process. In Paterson that process is not in place. The EPA granted Daracon an upgrade to the quarry operating licence from 450,000 tonnes to 2 million tonnes without community consultation. Residents believe that even this limit is being exceeded at the moment.

No one knows where Dungog Council stands on this. I sent several emails and made phone calls about this issue to Robyn Parker’s office, Dungog Council and Port Stephens Council late last year and earlier this year. This followed concerns expressed by Brandy Hill residents about the number of Daracon trucks and their haulage contractors barrelling down Brandy Hill Drive without concern for safety or noise issues. The only reply I had was from Port Stephens Council stating that there are no cross-boundary rules or discussions on this issue.

At the end of the Paterson meeting, the residents resolved to form a committee, seek discussions with George Souris (Member for Upper Hunter) and Robyn Parker (Minister for the Environment), and meet with Dungog Council and Daracon to sort out this issue which is not only distressing to all residents in Paterson but which also has such large implications for us all.

I have subsequently heard that a meeting with Daracon was held, but the outcome was not all that encouraging.

I believe it is in the interest of our residents that the Brandy Hill / Seaham Action Group works together with the Paterson Progress Association and VOWW on these matters that will affect us all.

You can read a Maitland Mercury piece on Paterson residents’ negotiations with Daracon here.