Williamtown Sand Syndicate – trading as Newcastle Sand – will soon commence construction of its sand mine in Williamtown, 20km north of Newcastle, after it reached a confidential financial settlement with residents that were threatening to launch an appeal in the New South Wales Land and Environment Court.
Under the terms of the deal, Newcastle Sand will make an annual payment to approximately 15 residents of neighbouring properties while the quarry is operational, with residents agreeing to cease all legal proceedings.
“The approval is now 12 months old, meaning the appeal period has lapsed, and the original consent is active,” Newcastle Sand’s general manager Darren Williams told Quarry. “So we are now full steam ahead and actively setting up the quarry to commence operation.
“We are bound by confidentiality, but the compensation was a number they were comfortable with, and that we felt fairly compensated them for any inconvenience. Mind you I think it is important to say the application was approved and it met all the guidelines – 100 per cent.”
The Newcastle Sand quarry, at 398 Cabbage Tree Road, Williamtown, has been approved to extract 3.25 million tonnes of resource at a maximum rate of 530,000 tonnes per annum. It will produce three key products including screened sand, concrete and asphalt sand and sandy loam for the Hunter and Sydney regional markets.
It can trade for up to 69 hours per week, excluding Sundays and public holidays, and has clearance for up to 10 truckloads per hour.
In May last year, the NSW Independent Planning Commission approved the quarry. A chief concern among opposing residents was the potential impact that per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances contamination (PFAS) – emanating from the nearby former Williamtown RAAF Base – could have on human health.
However, the IPC found there was no evidence of PFAS in the extractive material or the groundwater under the project site, meaning the project was unlikely to cause harm.
Among other findings, it also ruled that the impact on biodiversity, including koalas, would be adequately compensated through biodiversity offsets, with on-site rehabilitation further reducing the effect.
Despite the IPC’s findings, residents lodged an appeal with the Land and Environment Court, which Williams said largely focussed on the environmental impact, as opposed to traffic, noise or dust. He said residents based their argument on the effects on fauna and flora such as koalas, squirrel gliders and vegetation.
“At that point of time our plan already had sign off from the state and federal authorities, so we were pretty confident that the Land and Environment Court would have gone in our favour. However, like any time you go to court, it's a role of the dice, you never know what commissioners are thinking,” he said.
“It’s been a six-year process, and we have spent well over a million dollars on the approval. We have got three to five years’ of significant data on-site with regards to ecology, groundwater and air monitoring.”
Williams added that the approved level of truck movements was likely to be well above what was required for the operation. Loading and dispatch of laden trucks could occur from 6:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, and 7:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday.
He said the company would commence construction of the site in about a month. Once operational, Newcastle Sand will become the closest sand reserve to the M1 Beresfield interchange, making its products accessible to construction and glass markets as far afield as Sydney.
“Our equipment has been ordered, we have got two brand new loaders in the yard ready to go, we have got our screen there ready to go, conveyors and a weighbridge on order, so we would like to think late this year to early next year we will be open,” Williams said.
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