The NSW Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) recently approved a development application lodged by Sheridan’s Hard Rock Quarry, located in Hernani, to increase its basalt quarrying operation.
The quarry’s extraction rate will increase from 30,000m3 to 73,600m3 per annum, and its footprint will increase from 2ha to 5.73ha.
Commenting on the approval, Northern JRPP chair Garry West said, “We have worked closely with Clarence Valley Council, the community and the proponent to make a decision that balances the economic needs of the region and the impact on the local environment.
“The panel’s decision includes a number of conditions that the proponent must meet including how they will rehabilitate vegetation, protect local fauna and monitor water and dust levels.”
Truck movement concerns
Initially, the expansion proposal had generated concerns within the community that truck movements would increase. Quarry owner Graham Sheridan believed that this was partly due to an inaccurate internal document from the neighbouring Bellingen Shire Council, which had been invited to comment on the development application.
While Sheridan stated he had had no intention of increasing his current truck movement limit, community concerns surrounding traffic were still incorporated into the JRPP’s approval.
“Community submissions were made concerning Saturday traffic along Waterfall Way through Bellingen which led to a decision to impose a condition not to permit the haulage of quarry product east-bound on Waterfall Way east of Maynards Plains Road on Saturdays,” West said.
“The panel also conditioned a number of road safety issues on Bald Hills Road identified in the road safety audit submitted by the applicant in support of their application.”
Sheridan told The Bellingen Shire Courier-Sun he was relieved that the development application had been approved. “While I am glad the process is over, I never had any doubts – it was always going to happen,” he said.
Sheridan also reiterated that the expansion would not result in increased truck movement. “About 85 per cent of my product goes to the west, to Armidale and Tamworth. There’s very little that goes to the east of the quarry. This was something always known and I tried to get this message out, but there have been a few people who took my [development] application and blew it out of all proportions. It really was a case of hysteria,” he said.