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Council considers increasing road fees

Eastern Sand and Gravel lodged a development application with the Goulburn Mulwaree Council to progressively expand production at its Aglime Fertilisers limestone quarry from 25,000 to 120,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) over a five-year period.

The existing development approval for the quarry, which is located in Marulan, New South Wales, was issued under an old council contributions plan which only required that the operator pay a one-off fee of $5713 for roads, bushfire and garbage waste charges.

However, the council is now seeking to apply the current rate – which is calculated per tonne per kilometre – to the quarry operation as part of its expansion. “It is now contended that extraordinary road damage/haulage route should be charged on the full annual haulage quantity given the scale and nature of the development,” a council development application officer report stated.

Based on the maximum 120,000 tpa maximum production limit, it was estimated the new fee would be approximately $38,796 per annum. Eastern Sand and Gravel challenged this, contending that the new contribution rate should be calculated solely on the additional 95,000 tpa it was applying for as part of the expansion project, which would result in fees of approximately $30,714 – more than $8000 less than the rate proposed by the council.

The quarry’s development application – including the council’s recommendation on an updated contribution rate – is now being considered for approval by the relevant state Joint Regional Planning Panel.

Rate review

In related news, Louise Wakefield, director of planning at Goulburn Mulwaree Council, told Quarry that the council’s current contributions plan – known as section 94 – was being reviewed to ensure the rates “adequately addressed the current and future requirements for road maintenance”.

While Wakefield indicated that the review had not been prompted by a specific operation, she noted that the decision was made after consideration of road maintenance reports on existing haulage routes for quarries in the Marulan area.

“The review being undertaken is to ensure the full cost of all required upgrades, repairs and maintenance to all public amenities used by extractive industry operators in the local government area are appropriately reflected in the section 94 plan,” Wakefield explained.

“Council does not have a predetermined position on what the contribution rate should be as there has to be a direct relationship between the expected types of development in the area and the demand for additional public facilities to meet that demand. Council staff are working closely with an expert consultant to ensure the plan accurately captures the information around demand, and therefore a specific contribution rate can be determined.”

The review is expected to be completed by September 2015, with any draft changes to be placed on public exhibition for community consultation prior to implementation.

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