End-September Update

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.

Approved Hours Of Operation

It seems Hanson has curtailed crushing operations outside of the approved hours. That is very welcomed as it has greatly improved the lives of people living in neighbouring properties. Thank you Hanson.

However, Hanson continues to have trucks entering and leaving prior to 6am on most weekday mornings, detracting from the rural amenity along the haul route, and endangering wildlife. Both were reasons the IPC only allowed truck movements after 6am.

The following is the latest reply from PSC on the matter. If you have first hand evidence of unlawful truck movements outside 6am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, please lodge your complaint with PSC.

Urgent Action Required – PSC to Debate Rezoning 610 Seaham Rd Nelsons Plains on 25th August

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.


Cr Ryan Palmer
mayor@portstephens.nsw.gov.au | 0402 749 467

East Ward
glen.dunkley@portstephens.nsw.gov.au | 0438 550 356

jaimie.abbott@portstephens.nsw.gov.au | 0403 176 298

john.nell@portstephens.nsw.gov.au | 0419 375 059

Central Ward
chris.doohan@portstephens.nsw.gov.au | 0434 601 957

sarah.smith@portstephens.nsw.gov.au | 0421 317 173

steve.tucker@portstephens.nsw.gov.au | 0437 045 940

West Ward
giacomo.arnott@portstephens.nsw.gov.au | 0468 391 459

ken.jordan@portstephens.nsw.gov.au | 0422 781 180

paul.lemottee@portstephens.nsw.gov.au | 0414 548 525

Welcome to new people following our group.
Thanks for everyone’s support.
Margarete Ritchie.

Loss of Habitat from Quarry Expansion


The Brandy Hill quarry expansion has been an issue for the community since mid 2013. At that time the main concern for residents centred on 24/7 operations and safety along the road haulage routes. But over the last 7 years other issues have arisen: dust, noise and biodiversity to name but a few. While the IPC determination has addressed some of these issues, biodiversity was left in limbo. The submissions made by VOWW and BHSAG in 2017 were based on information available at the time. Since then far more has come to light.

Information was requested of Hanson which was previously unavailable due to “commercial in confidence “ and our own research has revealed a far greater biodiversity impact than was previously understood on the proposed expansion site. Of particular note, is a report commissioned by Hanson for their EIS, dated February 2019 and sent to Department of Planning and is therefore on public record. Findings in this report brought to life the detrimental impact the clearing of 52 hectares of core koala habitat would have on the local koala population. Changes in federal and state environmental law (spec. koala), drought conditions, increased development and the Black Summer bushfires over recent times has pushed the importance of protecting our local koala population to even greater significance. The information on which the IPC based it’s determination was a 2015 koala survey provided by Hanson. No information was provided nor requested on the CURRENT status. We have a significant local koala population and it is one of the last remaining healthy colonies in the Port Stephens region.

There is now strong evidence that we have breeding females and an active core colony in the area. An updated survey must be requested. You may have seen heightened activity on social media as well as in main stream media on the significance of the Brandy Hill koala population. We must not lose sight of the fact that the bulldozing of land for the expansion will also affect other endangered species including the grey-headed flying fox, regent honeyeaters, spot-tail quoll and swift parrot. The Brandy Hill quarry expansion was approved by the NSW government just 2 weeks after a parliamentary enquiry found koalas in the State would be extinct by 2050 without urgent government intervention. Minister Ley has the final say on approving the quarry expansion. Remember, the number one threat to koalas and other wildlife is destruction and fragmentation of habitat.

If you want to voice your opinion please contact the Federal Environment Minister. On the 8th September, Sussan Ley will make her final decision on whether the expansion of Brandy Hill quarry will go ahead. You can use your social media accounts to call on the Minister to #savePortStephenskoalas. Don’t forget to tag!

Facebook: @SussanLeyMP
Twitter: @SussanLey
Instagram: @SussanLeyMP

or email by using the link on the “The Hon. Sussan Ley MP” homepage.

Brandy Hill Quarry Hours of Operation

The IPC decision on future hours of operation has basically carried the current consent conditions forward. The key IPC condition is that product loading and despatch and quarrying operations are limited to 6am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, and at no time on Sundays or public holidays. This is the same as the 1983 EIS and consent, with the exception that the latter does not mention public holidays, and there are exceptions for maintenance and secondary/tertiary crushing. The 1983 consent conditions will remain in effect until Hanson formally advises the DPIE of the “date of Commencement” of the new consent.

The hours of operation were one of the principal issues we had with Hanson’s proposal, and has been a frequent matter for complaints about noise in the early morning and into the night. We were frustrated by PSC’s non enforcement of this matter, which we understand was partly due to the uncertainty about what the IPC would determine for the future.

That uncertainty has now gone, so I have written to PSC to properly enforce the hours of operation while they remain the consent authority.

So if you see gravel trucks entering the quarry before 6am or after 6pm Monday to Saturday, or at any time on Sundays, or hear any quarrying or crushing noise outside 6am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, please lodge your complaint with PSC. You can also complain on the HANSON Hotline, but PSC is the consent authority responsible for enforcement, so they are the prime contact, until the new consent comes into force.

IPC Determination!

We received the following at 5.05 PM today from NSW Planning:

Please be advised that the Determination for the Brandy Hill Quarry Expansion Project is now available on the IPCN website:


The wait is over! Please read the 3 documents from the IPC, either from the above website near the top under the heading “DETERMINATION”, or attached at the end of this post, to draw your own conclusions.

The IPC has basically endorsed the recommendations from the DPIE with some improvements in favour of the community.

  • The 6 bus bays and pathway must be completed BEFORE annual production can exceed 700,000 tonnes
  • No trucks before 6am
  • Enclosure of all fixed processing equipment from stage 1.

There will be many disappointments for the community, but also many for Hanson, so perhaps there is some balance.

Clearly, without the efforts of so many community members, the outcome would have been much worse, so I thank you all.

The three IPC determination documents are available below:

Brandy Hill Quarry is on NSW Government List of Projects to be “Fast Tracked”

If you have heard that the quarry is on the government’s list of projects to be fast tracked, don’t be alarmed. We have been assured by the IPC that, as the quarry project is already before the Commission, there will be no short cuts or by-passing due process.

Kate Washington also pointed out that the Brandy Hill Quarry project has one of the least employment and capital values of all the projects listed. We note that the employment figure of 31 is inflated compared to Hanson’s figure of 18 in other publications. Here is the full list of fast tracked projects:

Hanson Complaint Hotline

On 29th April we received the following email from the quarry CCC Chairperson Lisa Andrews, regarding who to contact with complaints about the quarry. This was the first time we had been notified of the Hotline in all the years since the CCC was formed! Please make use of it to report your first hand experience of problems. It could still be some time before the SSDA is finalised, so keep reporting problems.

We all know that Hanson disregard the conditions of consent, but they also use the lack of complaints as justification to keep doing it. For example, in this document to the DPIE on the 11th May: https://majorprojects.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/prweb/PRRestService/mp/01/getContent?AttachRef=SSD-5899%2120200521T005501.926%20GMT
they say:

Already in 2020, the normal operating hours to 10:00pm of the secondary and tertiary equipment have been required on 60 evenings. It is notable that Hanson has not received any complaints about these evening operations.”

Dear CCC members,

I hope you are all well during these unprecedented times.
Recently multiple Hanson staff have been receiving numerous enquiries and complaints regarding Brandy Hill Quarry. Hanson understands the importance in providing an avenue for community members to ask questions and lodge complaints regarding a Hanson site. However, while the site remains compliant with its development consent and Environmental Protection Licence conditions, staff are somewhat limited in their ability to appease the concern of some residents. In the interest of all parties Hanson is providing a more formal procedure of communication to ensure all complaints are captured, investigated and responded to.  Accordingly, we are asking CCC members to pass along to the broader community the following details regarding Brandy Hill Quarry environmental enquiries or complaints:

Hanson Hotline: 1800 882 478

Port Stephens Council: 02 4988 0255

EPA Environmental Line: 131 555

The Hanson Hotline provides community members a way to contact Hanson regarding any concerns, enquiries or complaints while allowing a streamlined avenue in tracking the issue and providing a response to the complainant. This is also the number provided on signage associated with the quarry.

Finally, Port Stephens have overall responsibility for the current Brandy Hill Quarry consent.  Should you have any complaints and/or enquiries relating to the approval conditions for the quarry, please lodge them with Council directly.  Please note that as the site’s regulatory authority, complaints and/or enquiries regarding the environmental performance of the quarry, may be lodged through the EPA’s Environmental Line.

I trust this information is of assistance.

Kind regards,
Belinda Pignone
Environmental Planning & Compliance Coordinator

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require any further information.
Thank you and regards

Lisa Andrews
Independent Chairperson &
Articulate Solutions Pty Ltd
t: 0401 609 693
e: lisaandrews.ic@gmail.com

So despite lack of success with complaints to date, keep them coming as the DPIE and IPC will be monitoring the complaint register (we hope).

IPC Public Meeting 12th June 2020

The IPC held the public meeting on the Brandy Hill Quarry Expansion by video-conference yesterday, from 10am to about 4pm. It was a tiring day after weeks of preparation by the 6 BHSAG committee members who spoke on behalf of BHSAG and VOWW. Many other passionate and concerned residents from Giles Road, Nelsons plains and elsewhere also made their presentations. We wholeheartedly thank everyone who presented to the commission or have already sent in written submissions.

The meeting was live streamed so we hope you had the opportunity to watch some of the proceedings. Hanson had two speakers present first, and they both mainly pushed their need for more hours and more trucks in order to service the Sydney market.

Written submissions
If you still want to have your say on this project but were unable to participate in the Public Meeting, you can submit your comments in writing to the Commission via email to: ipcn@ipcn.nsw.gov.au , by post or the online portal: http://www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/have-your-say Written comments are weighed the same as spoken presentations. The IPC will accept submissions until Friday 19th June. Your support is important.

Meeting Presentations
The presentations by committee members will be posted as soon as we can. Here is the first installment, from Neil Ritchie. We can only hope the IPC has listened with more empathy than Hanson has to date.

We were very disappointed with PSC’s responses to questions from the IPC last week about costings for the bus bays and shared pathway, and the suitability of the roads and intersections for heavy vehicles. See below from the IPC website:

Other presentations will be posted as they become available .