New Zealand construction materials supplier Fulton Hogan has commenced three weeks of high stakes public hearings to consider hundreds of submissions over its controversial quarry proposal on the outskirts of Christchurch.
The company has applied to Environment Canterbury and Selwyn District Council, in the central South Island, to establish the Roydon Quarry on 170ha of land between four roads in Templeton.
The proposed project, which will be active across up to 26ha at any one time, is a direct replacement for Fulton Hogan’s nearby Pound Road Quarry that has operated for the past three decades but is expected to exhaust its aggregate resource within the next four years.
Due to demand for aggregates generated by the Christchurch earthquake rebuild, aggregate resources within the city have been depleted at a quicker rate than originally forecast. The quarry would be well placed to service southwestern areas.
The site is now subject to three week-long blocks of public hearings, which began last week. The operation has come up against staunch opposition from residents who also have the backing of Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.
Of the 454 submissions, it has been reported that 354 oppose the quarry and resident groups have raised more than $40,000 to pay for legal advice and experts.
Central to their concerns are the proposed 1200 total truck daily movements (maximum). Dust risk exposure has also been a highly charged issue, despite assurances from public health officials.
Going beyond compliance
Fulton Hogan South Island general manager Craig Stewart said the company would not operate if it could not manage dust or respirable crystalline silica exposure.
“Fulton Hogan’s goal or vision is for this to be an industry showcase quarry in New Zealand,” Stewart said in a video on the Fulton Hogan website.
“We want it to be part of the community to the point that the community don’t even appreciate we are there as a neighbour … It’s our intention to go beyond compliance.”
According to the company, the Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Ramon Pink assessed a nine-month quarry air quality monitoring program in nearby Yaldhurst, and concluded there was no serious public health risk to residents from airborne dust.
“This study related to a much greater quarry open area, and given the comparison between the Yaldhurst quarries and the proposed Roydon Quarry, the risk to residents adjacent to the Roydon quarry is expected to be lower still,” the company stated.
Dust concerns will be addressed by limiting the extraction area at any one time, sealing internal roads and speed restrictions, use of field conveyors to move material, foggers and misters, planting of trees around the perimeter and water carts for dust suppression.
Earth bunds will also shield the operation from public view and reduce noise.
In response to truck movement concerns, Fulton Hogan believes this will be mitigated by the fact 90 per cent of trucks will head east into Christchurch city on the arterial road network.
Truck movements through the small town of Templeton will be restricted to local deliveries only, with three to five heavy traffic movements per day on Jones Road towards Templeton
If approved, the quarry site will be excavated in sections, likely beginning in the centre of the site and then move out toward Dawsons Road and then in stages toward Jones Road. Quarried parts of the site will be rehabilitated during the quarry’s lifetime.
The last of the week-long hearings takes place from 9 to 13 December.
“The hearings are progressing through a robust process set in place by the regional and local council and is being followed through by the commissioners with all experts and submitters receiving an opportunity to put forward their evidence,” Fulton Hogan’s national environment and sustainability manager Don Chittock told Quarry.
“We look forward to seeing the consent application hearings through to conclusion over the next three weeks.”