THE company behind a proposal to double the output of Brandy Hill Quarry said it had reduced daytime laden truck movements from the site to 300 after widespread community and government agency concerns, but insists most concerns are based on “misunderstandings”.
Hanson’s proposal to more than double the quarry output from 700,000 tonnes to 1.5 million tonnes of material per year from the site north of Raymond Terrace drew nearly 200 submissions, the majority negative.
In a response to submissions as the project reaches a final assessment by the Department of Planning, Hanson said it had reduced proposed operations from 24 hours per day, seven days a week, to six days a week for most works. But it has rejected a push to reduce 24 hour per day operations altogether, despite government agencies including the Environment Protection Authority expressing concern about excessive noise from truck movements through the narrow rural roads near the quarry.
“Hanson has reviewed the proposed operations and reduced operating hours for some aspects of the project, however has retained night time operations where this is important to satisfy demand. This includes transportation activities,” its response to submissions made public this week said.
Hanson has told the Department of Planning a cap of 58 laden truck movements from the quarry between 10pm and 7am was reasonable.
Despite a doubling of quarry output, Hanson said road traffic noise levels are “not predicted to significantly increase under the project”. It also acknowledged complaints, backed by government agencies including Hunter New England Health, that its consultation with the community had not met Department of Planning or community expectations.
On October 30 the Environment Protection Authority declined to recommend conditions of approval for the expanded quarry operations after noting Hanson had not adequately addressed concerns about emission impacts on surrounding areas. Hunter New England Health also expressed concerns about coarse and fine particle emissions under the expanded operations, saying national air quality guidelines would not be met.
The EPA advised the Department of Planning to give truck noise “careful consideration”, after noting it could regulate air emissions and dust from the quarry, but is “unable to regulate truck movements to and from the premises”.
Brandy Hill resident Margarete Ritchie said even the amended proposal for the quarry would result in more than 700 truck movements to and from the site, 24 hours a day.
Ms Ritchie and members of the Brandy Hill/Seaham Action Group said they were shattered at Hanson’s response to submissions which suggested they were unable to read company documents, rather than strongly objecting to the significant increase in quarry operations.
“They have written in their executive summary that the community misunderstood their original discussions, that all of our concerns are “perceived”, and that a path along the main haulage roads is not necessary because they will tell their drivers to reduce the speed to 60 and they will have a code of conduct for all drivers,” the group said.
“As for sleep disturbance it is also a perceived concern, so truck movements 24 hours a day, seven days a week when their contracts demand, is apparently okay.
“Dust and noise issues are similarly dealt with. Those residents who live directly uphill from the quarry are rightly concerned that the proposal to crush waste concrete will cause concern, with silica dust released onto their roofs and then into their water tanks.
“But that’s another nothing-to-worry-about issue according to Hanson.”
The quarry was originally approved by Port Stephens Council in 1983, and has expanded original output from 200,000 to the current 700,000 tonnes of quarried material per year. The material is used largely for road construction.
Hanson proposes expanding its quarried area from 36 hectares to 78 hectares, and approval for another 30 years. The Department of Planning is assessing the proposal.