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Planning panel to review ambitious sand project

The Sutton Forest Quarry Project application will go before the state’s Independent Planning Commission (IPC), after 428 objections were submitted by deadline Thursday, 21 June, a spokesman for the planning department said.

Sutton Forest Quarries is seeking to open a sandstone quarry and processing plant, just off the Hume Highway. The extraction, processing and stockpiling areas will be on a site spanning 67 hectares.

The quarry is expected to have an output of one million tonnes per annum (tpa) of friable sandstone reserve that will yield approximately 860,000 tpa of sand products for sale over 45 years. A total of 21 million tonnes of light quality sand products will be produced in the first 30 years, and eight million tonnes in the following 15 years.

According to the executive summary of the proponent’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the proposed project is set to “fill the void” after the closure of the Penrith Lakes Quarry in recent years, and the imminent closure of the Kurnell Peninsula sand mine.

Community consultation

The NSW Department of Planning has arranged a community consultation with the proponent to bring them “on the same page” to discuss the public objections and responses to the project classified a state significant development.

Issues relating to groundwater pollution, loss of biodiversity, increased traffic movements and noise levels, reduced air quality and reduction in the value of neighbouring properties are to be reviewed.

“The community’s feedback and the applicant’s response to issues raised will be taken into consideration when we develop our recommendations,” the spokesman said.

“Because there were more than 25 public objections, the Department’s assessment report and recommendations are sent to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) for final consideration and decision,” the spokesman added.

The EIS highlights the importance of maintaining traffic levels and minimising noise and dust to the community, considering the proximity to the Hume Highway.

Access to and from the quarry would be from the highway via a proposed quarry interchange and a 1.4km quarry access road to be constructed. The daily average of 134 truck movements carrying 67 loads would be at a maximum of 332 movements, carrying 166 loads in peak sales periods.

No blasting is proposed within 0.5km of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, at nearby Penrose Park, while programs for monitoring of noise and air pollution will be undertaken.

The main objective of the development is to secure a long-term sand resource that would provide a range of construction materials to the Sydney, Illawarra, Southern Highlands and Canberra construction markets at a market competitive price. Sydney would receive about 95 per cent of the sand products.

The NSW capital consumes an average of 6.5 million tonnes of construction sand annually, with fine to medium-grained sand forming two thirds of the requirement.

The proposed project would also provide full time employment for about 20 people at the quarry and 50 contractors transporting quarry products.

Sutton Forest Quarries was contacted for comment, but had not responded at the time of publication.

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