The proposal is to fill the former quarry site with virgin excavated natural material (VENM), excavated natural material (ENM) and other clean fill material sourced from earthworks projects across Sydney and the local regional area.
According to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared by GHD on behalf of Bell Quarry Rehabilitation Project Pty Ltd, the rehabilitation process will involve:
- Importation of approximately 1.2 million cubic metres of VENM, ENM and other clean fill material (subject to specific resource recovery exemptions).
- Vehicle haulage at a rate of up to 140,000 tonnes per annum (tpa).
- Emplacement and compaction of soil material within the existing quarry voids.
- Shaping of fill to closely represent the pre-quarry landform and to allow surface water drainage across the final landform.
- Development of a water management system to control surface water discharges throughout the rehabilitation program and from the final landform.
- Revegetation of the site with locally endemic species to provide effective integration with the surrounding landscape.
The key objectives for the project, which is expected to take 15 years to complete, include:
- Rehabilitation of the site to a condition more closely representing the original landform and that of the adjoining Blue Mountains National Park.
- Maximised resource recovery through diversion of VENM, ENM and other clean fill materials away from landfill for beneficial reuse in site rehabilitation activities.
- An undertaking of the rehabilitation works that is sympathetic to the surrounding land use and environmental setting.
- Provision of ongoing local employment opportunities.
Local residents have expressed some concern over the project, in relation to increased truck movements, visual and noise amenities and monoxide pollution in a region that acts as an already “heavily used corridor by heavy vehicles heading to the western plains”.
"Tourism will continue to provide far more financial and associated benefits to the region than will be provided by fees from the operation of a waste dump in the Bell Quarry," one resident wrote in a letter to the council, excerpts of which have appeared in the Lithgow Mercury newspaper.
The Lithgow City Council has voted to reject the proposal based, in part, on the community’s opposition. Following a public meeting, the Lithgow Mercury reported that Cr Joe Smith said: "I've sat here tonight and listened to these residents. They don't want it, and I'm sure we don't want it."
Written submissions on the proposal are encouraged, quoting Council’s file reference DA No. 294/18.
Council's objections will be lodged with the NSW Joint Regional Planning Panel, which will have final say on the proposal.