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Quarry applications continue unabated

Quarry applications continue unabated

As outlined by the President of the Voice of Wallalong and Woodville (VoWW), Margarete Ritchie, at last month’s Community Forum at Tomaree Community Centre, many Port Stephens residents, together with those from the Mid-Coast and Dungog, are devastated about the potential cumulative environmental and community impacts of 5 new quarry proposals. This represents a doubling of quarry operations and associated impacts as another 5 existing operational quarries are seeking, or have been approved by the Dept. of Planning NSW or the Independent Planning Commission, to increase production and extend the operations for an average of 20 years.

Such an expansion of quarry activity is having a hugely detrimental effect on residents and wildlife from ever-increasing heavy truck movements causing noise, air & water pollution, and the clearing of native vegetation eroding habitat connectivity and displacing threatened species. 

In the September 2023 EcoUpdate, we reported on the proposed Stone Ridge Quarry in Wallaroo State Forest and the letter sent to Federal Environment Minister, The Hon. Tanya Plibersek. Through the hard work of the Save Balickera Group, the Gloucester Environment Group, Koala Koalition and others, there were well over the 50 objections needed to take the issue to the IPC – a massive 135 individually-written objections out of a total of 159 submissions. Since then, residents and their supporters have sent in many more submissions on further quarry applications in the region.

Fifteen local community groups have formed a coalition to campaign against these quarry impacts and have endorsed a call for strategic and conservation planning outlined in an Issue Paper. This Paper was sent to the Hon. Kate Washington MP and the NSW Government Ministers for the Environment, Planning, Roads, Regional Transport and Roads, Resources, as well as the Secretary for the Hunter.

‘We write to request the NSW Government to take urgent measures to produce a strategic and conservation framework to better assess, mitigate and crucially, reduce the present and projected cumulative impacts of operating, approved and proposed hard rock quarries in our Lower Hunter region.’

The community groups are calling on relevant NSW Government Ministers and departments, local Members of Parliament and local Councils to cooperate to:

  • Develop a Lower Hunter Quarry Cumulative Impacts Mitigation Action Plan to introduce standardised, scalable cumulative impact assessment and monitoring of social and environmental impacts including traffic, dust, noise, water discharges and vegetation loss with a view to reducing impacts on the community and environment.
  • Quantify contemporary data on supply and demand for quarry products to guide ecologically sustainable, efficient and cost effective provision of materials, and assess alternative sources of recycled housing and infrastructure materials, including gravel and aggregates from recycled coal-ash waste.

The full document, Lower Hunter Hard Rock Quarry Strategic and Conservation Planning February 2024, is available here to download, and includes a summary of issues and the justification statement.

Useful links:

Lower Hunter Hard Rock Quarry Strategic and Conservation Planning February 2024

Hunter Quarry Expansions – Hunter Community Environment Centre

Joint letter to NSW ministers – April 2024

Save Balickera – Stop the quarries

Will State Forests become quarries? – EcoUpdate September 2023

Published: 4 May 2024