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Port Stephens sand mine could minimise risk to electricity grid

A Newcastle contracting company has proposed a new coastal quarry to extract windblown sand that could pose a future risk to the local electricity network.

Consultancy firm Tattersall Lander, acting on behalf of Hay Enterprises, has lodged a development application with the Port Stephens Council to establish a sand mine in Anna Bay, 51km northeast of Newcastle.

The proposed development, which is bordered by Nelson Bay Road to the north and the sand dunes of Stockton Bight to the south, seeks to remove wind-deposited sand to natural ground level.

The proposed site is located within an existing electrical easement that runs east to west across the property, and comprises an area immediately south. (Electricity easements allows Ausgrid employees to access powerlines and substations on private property.)

Hay Enterprises, a Newcastle firm that offers a range of services including civil works, earthworks, land clearing and sand supply, wants to extract and remove up to 50,000m3 of sand per year for 30 years. The proposed operation will supply sand for general purposes in the construction industry.

According to an environmental impact statement (EIS), removal of windblown sand would ensure the electricity easement within the site is kept clear and can be accessed for maintenance purposes.

“The alternatives to this proposal are: do nothing and allow the sand to accumulate – [which] is not viable due to maintenance efficiency and safety issues – or allow Ausgrid to remove the sand within the easement – [which] is not ideal as it consumes Ausgrid resources unnecessarily,” the EIS stated.

“Allowing the proposal as a commercial enterprise means that it is in the interests of the proponent to actively monitor the situation and remove sand at the appropriate times.”

Economic benefits

Low volumes of sand will be extracted for construction and filling purposes, with no specialist sand available in the area. At an advised rate of $19 per cubic metre, the operation could generate up to $950,000 per annum.

Hay Enterprises would also seek to employ people from the local regional area, including two sand loading operators, up to 10 truck drivers and 12 part-time staff for the construction of a site office and internal road network.

The proposed development would involve a maximum of 40 truck movements into and out of the site per day, and would operate between the hours of 7am and 6pm from Monday to Friday and 8am to 1pm on Saturday.

Rehabilitation of the project, which will involve the removal of 1ha of vegetation, will address geotechnical stability of the quarry batter.

According to the EIS: “It is recommended that when the mine is not actively loading out that batters be limited to a maximum of 1.5H:1V and for long term stability against mass failure that the slopes be battered at a maximum 2H:1V.

“Final rehabilitation will ensure that slopes are battered for long term stability against mass failure. Southerly dune faces will be mass planted with spinifex species.”

Public submissions for the project closed on Friday, 15 November, 2019, according to the Port Stephens Examiner.

The Port Stephens Council will manage and complete the assessment of the application and provide recommendations to Hunter and Central Coast Regional Planning Panel, the consenting authority, for final determination.

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