On Tuesday 13th December, item 13 on the Port Stephens Council agenda had councillors debate a petition that was signed by over 500 local people. The petition opposed council’s plan to have two road crossings in the pathway design with the pathway starting from Seaham Road on the south side of BHD, crossing to the other side near Werai Cl then back again north of Tandara Rd. ie the petition supported the pathway remaining on the western side for the full length of BHD.
The council agenda included the recommendation that the petition be rejected and to continue designing the pathway with the two crossings.
Therese, who did all the hard work arranging the petition, was unfortunately unable to attend to speak to council during the public access session. However, Neil Ritchie did speak in support of the pathway petition. Many questions were then asked of Neil and council staff.
Once the formal meeting started, our west ward councillor Giacomo Arnott, successfully moved that item 13 be brought forward so those of us in the audience could hear the debate and then leave. The outcome was unanimously in favour of supporting the petition and to build the pathway on only one side of BHD!
So many thanks to Therese for conducting the petition and everyone that signed it, to Neil for speaking to PSC, to our west ward councillors for supporting us in the debate, and to council for their unanimous vote.
Here are the two most relevant pages from the draft council minutes. A link to the full minutes follows.
Here is the link to the minutes. Select “DRAFT 13 December 2022 – Ordinary Council Minutes – Pages 1-307” and go to Page No 245. (At some point the final minutes will be posted, but the page number may change). Note that the “Background” section relates to the recommendation to reject the petition.
So while there is still much to do regarding planning of the pathway and an acceptable Voluntary Planning Agreement to be negotiated between Hanson and PSC, that is good news leading up to Christmas. Hopefully they pathway will be able to progress early next year.
Residents between Seaham and Woodville have been extended an invitation to be part of a survey conducted through the University of Canberra, researching the difficulties (if there are any) in this area moving forward on a range of social , environmental, development issues and more. This is being conducted throughout Australia and is in relation to the DOTE (Dropping off the EDGE) longitudinal study.
I have agreed to help facilitate the meetings and that is why I am sharing the information through this website and related Facebook posts. Please read the following information carefully and if you are interested respond directly to RSVP on the flyer attached.
The format will be 2 workshops of 6-8 people each on Thursday 27th May. Time 10.30am – midday and 5.30pm – 7pm. Refreshments will be provided. Please refer to the document below.
I believe this could be a valuable exercise in understanding how we as a community see our strengths and weaknesses and also to understand how we look to the future.
I have been advised that the speed limit on Seaham Road between Seaham and the vicinity of the intersection with Hinton Road Nelsons plains, has been reduced from 90 to 80kph.
This is after years of lobbying by VOWW, BHSAG and local residents, with the support of both Hanson and PSC.
Of particular concern has been the intersection with Hinton Road where nearby residents have endured years of angst from countless close shaves and accidents that leave car part debris strewn around. The intersection remains a concern due to the lack of passing and turning lanes. Bus stop safety and that of residents accessing their driveways along this section of Seaham Road has been the other major concern. The speed reduction will give drivers more time to react to slow and turning vehicles, and hopefully will reduce the severity of any collisions that do occur.
This change is consistent with the 80kph speed limit that was introduced on Clarence Town Road and Butterwick Road in 2019.
We are pleased that the speed limit reduction has been implemented before the pending increase in quarry truck movements from the approved quarry expansion, Hanson continue to work toward being able to adopt the new consent.
So please be mindful of the new speed limit, for the safety of locals and other road users, and to avoid speeding fines. As you know, the police and mobile speed cameras do monitor our roads. Also be mindful of mobile phone use camera trailers that have been seen operating in the area.
I have not found any media release from Transport for NSW on the matter, but did notice workmen at the end of Brandy Hill Drive, possibly installing the new signs. If there is any further information come o light, we will keep you informed.
Firstly, welcome to everyone who follows our website, and particularly those people who have recently joined us.
BHSAG and VOWW have been very busy since May. This update covers activities since the NSW IPC’s 16th July approval of the Brandy Hill quarry expansion, which remains subject to signoff by federal minister for the Environment by 13th October.
Considerable efforts have been directed to ensure the Federal Minister for the Environment has independent current data on the local Koala population, and understands public sentiment on this matter. These efforts have resulted in considerable ongoing media coverage centred on the Facebook campaign “Save Port Stephens Koalas”. This group now has nearly 4,500 members, locally, nationally and internationally. You may have seen some of the extensive radio, TV, newspaper and online coverage. There has been significant celebrity interest and involvement, including Olivia Newton-John, Jimmy Barnes, Magda Szubanski, and Shaynna Blaze. The Federal Environment Minister met with Campaign Managers and the University Koala Experts last week. It is still very important that you express your views to the Minister, as per our previous post. We are not currently proposing any protest meetings/marches.
One of the many Koala sightings in the area
A team of professional koala experts at the Newcastle University were engaged by BHSAG/VOWW to conduct a koala survey. They thoroughly researched the koala habitat surrounding the Brandy Hill quarry site. Their report states the quarry expansion would destroy some of the most valuable koala habitat in Port Stephens. The area is also a critical breeding corridor. The Brandy Hill/Seaham area is the last in-land koala ‘hub’ and over 40 separate sightings of koalas have been made by locals, within quarry land or in close proximity to the site, since the campaign began. Breeding female koalas and bellowing males show this is an important breeding ground.
In addition to quarry matters, VOWW continues to be involved with inappropriate rezoning proposals. A developer wants to have land at 610 Seaham Rd rezoned to small lot rural-residential (<0.8ha). This garnered opposition from the adjacent chicken, turkey and beef farmers. VOWW committee provided support at two council meetings. Despite these efforts, PSC decided to refer the rezoning to the NSW Planning’s “Gateway” process. Unless Gateway rejects it outright this will go to public exhibit and seek public comment, before a decision is made.
Another inappropriate rezoning to small lot rural-residential in Giles Road was also opposed at a recent council meeting. Fortunately, PSC decided to reject that proposal.
There are other rezoning proposals in the Seaham, Brandy Hill and Nelsons plans areas that we will keep you informed about. One, to rezone part of 792 Seaham Rd (the old Eskdale property) to 2 hectare rural residential, seems to be in keeping with adjacent estates, but we await the details.
BHSAG has also been in contact with DPIE regarding Hanson’s management plan for compliance with the new IPC conditions. DPIE expects Hanson to take up the new consent later this year. Perhaps they are really running out of available rock under the old consent.
BHSAG continues to correspond with PSC regarding Hanson’s trucks ongoing breach of conditions by despatching prior to 6am.
We have also been in contact with our Councillors, to ensure that the bus bays and shared footpath as required under the new consent, are fit for purpose. Given that the roads do not currently meet standards for contemporary quarry trucks, the shared footpath is even more essential for the future safety of pedestrians and cyclists, particularly as trucks are expected to get heavier and longer over the life of the new consent.
We have been contacted by a resident of Woodberry, regarding large numbers of quarry trucks using Raymond Terrace and Woodberry Roads and the Tarro railway bridge and highway interchange. They believe these are Brandy Hill Quarry trucks, using routes that are not approved under either the current or IPC consents.
How can you help VOWW and the BHSAG committee and the work they are doing to fight inappropriate development in West Ward, and to hold PSC accountable?
Become a member of VOWW (BHSAG is a subcommittee of VOWW), an incorporated body to represent you , the local residents. See attached membership application form for details of how to submit your application and pay the $5 annual fee.
Let us show PSC that we are not just “THOSE PEOPLE”, a vocal minority (to be ignored), but a vocal majority! If we don’t act on issues now, we stand to lose our local character and amenity to big developers, who have no regard for us or the environment. We are not opposed to development, just that which is inappropriate for the area. Remember why you chose to live where you do.
Please email or phone councillors tonight or first thing tomorrow, if you have any objections to this rezoning, as it will be voted on tomorrow evening.
At tomorrow’s council meeting, councillors will debate the re-zoning of farmland at 610 Seaham Rd, Nelson’s Plains from Rural (RU1) to residential (RU5). No one in the community has been made aware of this and as a consequence no objections have been lodged with councillors. The developer of this land has however personally lobbied councillors individually. Developers have a history of getting around the council and state laws with no regard to the community that will most likely to be affected. In this case there will need to be changes made to several council rules regarding access to Seaham Rd., distances to odour sources such as the chicken farms, reduce the minimum lot size, etc.
This potential re-zoning is contrary to all council planning guidelines and the term “rural Lifestyle” does nothing to mitigate the loss of productive farmland and the potential loss of investment and livelihood of the 3 surrounding chicken farms. We urgently need to get the message to councillors before tomorrow’s meeting that you are opposed to this rezoning.
Here are some of the arguments against. The local farmers object to this because it places extra pressure on their farming practices. Eg: the need to improve pasture land means spreading fertiliser like chicken manure which will obviously annoy any new housing residents. The chicken sheds which create odour by their very nature and also night time operation, will be at risk. There are guidelines for new housing close to chicken sheds and agricultural for these very reasons and these guidelines will not be met by rezoning. The rezoning would be contrary to council’s own planning guidelines for rural West Ward and also contrary to NSW planning guidelines. An extra road intersection onto Seaham Road would add an extra danger with the possibility of 600 trucks per day from the Hanson quarry, should it get the final go-ahead. Housing in close proximity to floodplain with stormwater run off and potential for polluting the Williams River. The reduction of lot sizes below the 1ha, to 8000 square metres. Incompatible land use in the midst of farm and chicken farm. There will be pressure to then close down this chicken industry. Main argument is the preservation of valuable, productive farmland and agricultural use. Once this is lost it cannot be regained.
Please email or phone your objections to every councillor by tomorrow. The timeline is crucial. As early as possible. Note the P LeMottee has advised he will abstain due to conflict of interests.
Here is a link to the PSC papers, and go to page 98.
We have been quite distracted lately due to corona virus disruptions. The chairperson of the CCC advised us in early March that a Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) had been agreed with Port Stephens Council. Sorry for the delay in bringing that to you. The press release about the agreement is here: 2000305 Hanson_Brandy Hill Quarry VPA Statement
Our attempts to obtain the detail of the agreement have been unsuccessful, claiming confidentiality, as it also includes details of the haulage levy.
However, the press release does cover the two key items of infrastructure that BHSAG have campaigned for: Off-road bus stop bays and a shared pathway, so that is very good news. The aspect of when those items would need to be constructed will be determined by the NSW Department of Planning and the Independent Planning Commission. (More on that shortly)
We hope everyone dodged the corona virus, and that you are making cautious use of the relaxed rules for social interactions.
The following has been provided by Pre McGee from the Seaham Park and Wetland Committee, which has put forward two projects for NSW Govt funding. These are a bus shelter and associated laneways at Seaham School and school bus interchange and outdoor exercise equipment for Seaham Park.
These projects have successfully gone through stage 1 and 2 culling and stage 3 is a public vote.
The bus shelter is a high priority because in the 1990s there was a bus shelter which was removed because it was a closed-in structure which did not provide good visibility from the street.
The Seaham School bus stop and associated school bus interchange is both a transfer point for children from surrounding areas going to schools in Maitland and Raymond Terrace but also a disembarkation point for children going to Seaham School. There are both health and safety issues associated with there being no bus shelter and no formal bus laneway.
Parents and the community are concerned about children waiting in extreme heat for buses. At the interchange it would be hotter due to the urban island heat effect where localized warming occurs due to dark coloured and paved surfaces and the heat emissions from idling buses creating intense heat. There is no shelter and no trees at the interchange.
There is also no designated waiting area for school children to wait or alight for buses.
In wet weather school students shelter across the road under the shop awning and run across the road when their bus arrives. This create safety issues for themselves as well as drivers.
Drivers and children will not be put at risk of children running across the road when their bus arrives as they will be able to shelter on the side of the road where the bus stops.
Please vote and support these projects. This flyer explains the process. SP My Community Projects Flyer 2019
(a document box may appear at the bottom of your PC screen – click to open)
Letterboxes in the area have been receiving the following flier about VOWW ‘s activities including the results of the photo competition. The VOWW AGM is on the 31st July at the Woodville School of Arts Hall at 6:30pm. Come along and meet other community minded people.
There will be a guest speaker at this meeting. Chas Keys is a former deputy director of the SES in NSW. He has written extensively on flood management, flood warning systems, planning for floods and education of the community about flood safety. His talk will include the inevitability of population growth pressures on urban fringe areas like ours and will be riveting for residents. Questions will also be welcome.
The BHSAG is a subcommittee of VOWW, so we encourage you to support VOWW with your $5 per year membership, which is due from July each year.
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 email@example.com) 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 steadfastregarding 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.
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:
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.
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.
Stand by all the other mitigation measures outlined in BHSAG’s submission.
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.