November 2017 Update on Hanson’s EIS

In this post:

  1. A summary of the benchmarking visit to Holcim and other quarries in the Marulan area in August
  2. Meeting with Hanson’s Social Impact Assessment  (SIA) Consultant in September
  3. Hanson’s October letter following the SIA Meeting
  4. Next steps – December

 

  1. 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.

PSC is Seeking Feedback on “2028 Our Place, Our Plan”

There is a document available from Port Stephens Council offices and the Raymond Terrace library entitled Port Stephens 2028 – Our Place. Our Plan. It is also available from the PSC Website
It is a discussion paper for the future of all wards and thus is relevant to us here. John Redman, President of VOWW and I attended a meeting held by Mayor Ryan Palmer and attended by West Ward Councillor Paul LeMottee and representatives of Service Groups from the West Ward area.

At this meeting ideas for the future of Raymond Terrace were proposed and John and I gave our ideas for the Brandy Hill, Seaham, Nelsons Plains, Woodville and Wallalong area. For us the major issues included connectivity between our ‘villages’; roads, paths, cycleways and also communications within the community as well as between this community and Council.
Final submissions have to be made to Council by 1st December.

VOWW is holding a normal meeting at Woodville Hall, near Iona School at 6.30pm on Wednesday, 29th November. Councillor Giacomo Arnott will attend. This will be a good opportunity to raise any concerns as well as outline our vision for our area for the next 10 years. If you have a suggestion that you would like to present please come along and have your say. All ideas will be discussed and VOWW will put together a proposal to Council by the 1st December. We also encourage you to put in your personal submission to Council either by completing the online survey via the website link above, or by email to council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au and quote PSC2014-01504, or write to Council:
Attn: Penny Amberg
Port Stephens Council,
PO Box 42, Raymond Terrace, NSW. 2324

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

Update on Quarry Expansions -August 2017

Since the the last post, there is nothing further to report from either Hanson or Daracon on their quarry expansion plans. Both are presumably working on their responses to the submissions.

What has happened of intestest includes the following:

  1. After the southern highlands Gunlake Quarry expansion was rejected by the PAC, the proponent took the matter to the Land and Environment Court, and after some apparent negotiation with NSW planning, the project was approved with some major changes to the conditions. However, the compromises left the residents group still very disappointed with the outcome.
  2. There has not yet been a court ruling on the case between Dungog Council and Daracon. The judge has made rulings on other matters that were heard at about the same time, but they were one day hearings. This case went for 5 weeks and the findings are expected to take much longer to prepare. We will post details of the ruling when it becomes available. It is likely that Daracon need the ruling so that they can finalise their response to submissions.
  3. MCQAG have organised a visit to the southern tablelands to tour the Holcim Quarry, which is touted as a best practice operation, in both their operations and in listening to and reacting to residents concerns ie true consultation. The Holcim Quarry uses both road and rail to freight its products, so has many similarities to Martins Creek and Brandy Hill quarries. Neil will attend the visit as we expect there will be things to learn about that will help in the next stages of consultation with Hanson.

Thats all for now.

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.

October 2015 Update

This update covers a few topics:

  • CCC matters
  • Progress on the survey about a path along Brandy Hill Drive
  • The impact of the Martins Creek quarry
  • Current Gravel Projects

CCC

Minutes of the May meeting were finalised and will be posted shortly on our website. The significant items included:

  • A draft Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) had been provided to CCC members on a confidential basis, seeking community feedback prior to it being finalised. A number of items were challenged, and these were to be fully documented by BHSA.
  • The need for a pathway along Brandy Hill Drive was discussed, but it was clear that the Port Stephens Council representatives were not taking the idea seriously, and were also not considering that Hanson were prepared to contribute funding for it.
  •  HANSON’s contribution of free and discounted gravel for residents to repair driveways after the April Super Storm was gratefully appreciated. (Note that the Daracon Martins Creek quarry provided no community assistance after that storm).

The September CCC was a significant milestone. The minutes will not be posted until they are approved at the next meeting, currently set for 26th November. The highlights were:

  • Councillors Paul LeMottee and Geoff Dingle, and John Maretich from PSC attended for the first time. The councillors fully supported the resident’s plea for a pathway. Hanson supported the need for a path and confirmed their willingness to negotiate on the funding of the safety improvements and pathway. Though John Maretich expressed concerns about the cost and practicality of building a pathway, PSC was asked to progress the engineering and cost assessments for input to subsequent negotiations. The previous council representative no longer works for the council.
  • BHSA advised that a survey was being conducted to get wider community feedback on the prospect of a pathway. Early responses were all strongly in favour of a pathway.
  • The feedback BHSA had provided on the draft TIA, had been forwarded to the consultant responsible, and most of the points had resulted in positive changes to the final TIA. Whilst not every suggestion had been taken up in full, it was a significant improvement, including recognition that the roadway is unsuitable for pedestrians. BHSA advised that we will challenge some aspects of the TIA when it is on public exhibition, as it paints an overly “rose coloured glasses” view of the suitability of the roads at present, and their assessment of the cumulative impact with the Martins Creek quarry grossly understated the number of trucks coming from there.
  • Hanson advised that the noise impact report had been prepared, and that their full EIS had now been presented to the department of planning (DOP) for an “adequacy check”. Hanson agreed to provide the CC members with a copy of the noise impact report.
    EIS is nearing the Public Exhibition phase, and the timing will depend on what if any additional documentation or changes the DOP requests from Hanson.

PATHWAY SURVEY

A letterbox drop and website post of the survey has resulted in about 50 responses at last count. Thanks to all the people who took the time. Almost all respondents strongly support the need for a pathway. A full analysis of the responses to each question, and a précis of the comments will be posted when time permits. If you have not yet returned your survey, please do by mid November.

Suffice to say that the feedback has strongly supported our committee’s push for infrastructure to improve safety along the main quarry haul route.

MARTINS CREEK QUARRY

We often have a representative at the MCQAG committee meetings and also at the MCQ CCC meetings. The Paterson community is very much opposed to Daracon operating that quarry at considerably higher levels of truck traffic than State Rail ever did, as it is having a significantly damaging effect on local businesses, area roads and residential amenity. Dungog council has taken legal action against Daracon for breaching the extraction licence they believe applies. Daracon pays no levy for road maintenance to any of the three council areas crossed by its haulage routes!

Daracon is hoping to legitimise its operations which are already approaching 1.5mtpa by submitting an EIS for that level of operation. The significant aspect for Brandy Hill is that they estimate that on average, 25% of their trucks will use the Butterwick road, Clarencetown Road, Brandy Hill Drive and Seaham Road route toward Raymond Terrace. Obviously, depending on the major contract destinations, the proportion using this route will vary but the peaks will almost double the trucks using Brandy Hill drive.

Daracon have not yet prepared their TIA, so we are yet to see their assessment of the cumulative impact of the two quarries.

CURRENT GRAVEL PROJECTS 

There are major infrastructure projects in the Williamtown area, including the airport upgrade. The three local quarries are all providing gravel for these projects, so the number of trucks using the route to Raymond Terrace  will be noticeably higher than usual. This is a taste of what the norm is likely to be if the quarry licences are increased, and the peaks will be even greater!