In this post:
- A summary of the benchmarking visit to Holcim and other quarries in the Marulan area in August
- Meeting with Hanson’s Social Impact Assessment (SIA) Consultant in September
- Hanson’s October letter following the SIA Meeting
- Next steps – December
- Visit to Holcim and other quarries in the Marulan area.
At the end of August, Neil Ritchie joined a delegation from MCQAG for a 2 hour on-site tour of the Holcim quarry near Marulan, and to also inspect the road transport routes of the other quarries in the area. Read Neil’s notes from the trip: Holcim Lynwood Quarry tour
The trip was to understand the efforts these quarries have taken/are taking to mitigate the social impacts of quarry operations and transport on local communities.
The Holcim quarry was very impressive. It is the closest of the quarries to a town – Marulan. It uses enclosed “wet” processes to minimise dust and noise emissions in all crushing and conveying operations. There was no visible dust and negligible noise during our site tour, even though the primary crusher and all other operations were in progress. This is very different from Hanson’s current and proposed operations!
Even though the majority of Holcim’s output goes by rail, they constructed a private haul road linking to a new Hume highway interchange which Holcim built (estimated cost over $40m), so that no road trucks would travel on local roads or pass through the residential area of Marulan.
Holcim even voluntarily built night time lighting screens, estimated to have cost millions, in order to preserve the rural amenity for the Towrang community many kilometres to the west across the valley.
There are few farm residences which are close to the quarry and affected by blasting, but if those residents have any concerns or complaints, Holcim send representatives to the resident’s home in order to experience the effects of subsequent blasts for themselves, and not just rely on instrument readings. Holcim also have a very generous community contribution scheme.
Understandably, Holcim have a very good relationship with local communities, and only need to hold CCC meetings twice a year!
Similarly, Gunlake quarry, which recently gained approved for an expansion using only road transport, upgraded about 10km rural road so their trucks can avoid the township of Marulan. The Boral quarry uses mainly rail, and the small proportion going via roads does not pass any residential areas. The Bungonia quarry built a private by-pass road around Bungonia, and is widening and upgrading about 20km of rural roads to the “Holcim” interchange. That quarry is limited to 5 truckloads per day until the road upgrades are completed.
The MCQAG delegates concluded that it is totally unacceptable for the Martins Creek quarry to send any trucks through the village of Paterson and the roads and bridges on all the haul routes, including along Brandy Hill Drive, are totally inadequate. Martins Creek has a rail siding – use it!
You can draw your own conclusions about whether Hanson’s EIS for 24/7 operations to 1.5mtpa at Brandy Hill, has taken any real consideration for the amenity of local residential communities!
2. Meetings with Hanson’s SIA Consultant.
There had been no interaction with Hanson since the DPE meeting in Raymond Terrace in April, until Hanson advised the appointment of Ellen Davis-Meehan of Key Insights Pty Ltd. Key Insights were to assist Hanson in responding to the submissions, in particular with the social impact assessment aspects.
On 15th September, Ellen visited the quarry and also met with residents of Giles Road. Then, Lisa Andrews the independent CCC chairperson, conducted a meeting attended by Ellen, the community members of the CCC and other residents of Brandy Hill.
The minutes and Ellen’s Key Insights meeting notes were made available only recently: Finalised minutes from Community Forum
Notes from Key Insights
We seemed to get a good hearing, which reiterated the concerns expressed in the many objecting responses to the EIS, and noted what we had learned from the quarries near Marulan. The report that Key Insights provided to Hanson has not been made available.
3. Hanson’s letter.
We were all hoping that Key Insights might produce some meaningful compromises from Hanson, particularly on the three major issues that will detrimentally impact the amenity and safety of our community: 24/7 operations, greatly expanded truck numbers, and the lack of paths, bus stops and adequate roads etc .
Read Hanson’s letter dated 24th October for yourselves: Letter from Hanson
As you will have read, there is nothing in the letter that offers anything on the two most concerning issues: 24/7 and greatly increased truck volumes, and little on the other matters.
Hanson continues to say they already have 24/7, but there is a large element of dishonesty in that claim. Hanson are taking the phrase in condition 4 of PSC’s consent that says “The applicant is to undertake all those environmental protection measures outlined in the environmental impact statement…” to not include the section of the EIS that says: “Extraction and processing operations will be carried out in daylight hours 6:00am to 6:00pm, Monday to Saturday.” I think you would agree that hours of operation are very much an “environmental protection measure”. This is another example of Hanson’s disregard of the social impact of their existing and planned expanded operations. Hanson were never granted 24/7 by PSC. Hanson are making this claim to justify the existing early morning dispatches and to pressure the DPE into formalising extended the quarry’s operating hours.
The community members of the CCC reviewed the letter and agreed that there was still no willingness on Hanson’s part to make any significant compromises in their “response to submissions”. Neil phoned Andrew Driver and conveyed our disappointment in his letter. For the first time since the CCC was convened a Hanson representative then asked “What do you want?” I referred Andrew to the BHSAG submission, where his question is clearly answered. He did not appear to have even read the document.
Andrew Driver reiterated Hanson’s approach with the EIS was to ignore community concerns and present the EIS to the DPE “on its merits”. They hoped that those merits would carry it through the DPE and PAC process and avoid involving the Land and Environment Court. His only concession was to commit to discussing the matter again with his superiors.
4. Next Steps
On 17th November, Lisa Andrews the CCC chairperson, advised “it is intended to hold a CCC meeting within the next few weeks’, on site, to discuss Ellen’s review of the Social Impact Assessment and for Hanson to provide members with an update on its response to submissions”. On Friday 24th November, Lisa further advised: “I wish to nominate Tuesday 19th December 2017 (5pm). The meeting will be held on site at Brandy Hill Quarry and a formal meeting notice and agenda will be sent out closer to the day.”
We have not RSVP’d yet, but I assume that if enough CCC members agree to attend then the meeting will proceed. BHSAG will ask again for a copy of “Ellen’s review of the Social Impact Assessment” so we can go to the meeting properly prepared.
An update on proceedings will be posted as they develop.
That is all for now on Hanson’s EIS progress.
PS There has still be no communications between Daracon and MCQAG since submissions closed on that EIS, and the Land and Environment Court still has not released its verdict on the case brought against Daracon by Dungog Shire Council.