A New South Wales state planning panel has approved the development of a basalt quarry at Cedar Point, south of Kyogle, in the state’s north. The decision means up to 47,000m3 of aggregate will be extracted from the site over the next 43 years.
The Kyogle Council had recommended to the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel that the final decision on the quarry should be deferred so that it could negotiate an agreement with the developer Rodney Graham about an infrastructure contribution.
However, the state planning panel ruled that “another deferral” was not appropriate. “If they wanted to do [a plan], it could take up to 12 months and we believed this had taken long enough already,” panel chairman Garry West explained.
Instead, the panel’s recommendation was for approval of the quarry but with a list of more than 90 conditions attached, mostly related to roadworks, noise and blasting conditions. This includes requirements of the developer to negotiate with the owners of the three properties within the one kilometre buffer zone to purchase their properties if they wish (the price for sale would be determined as if the development had not occurred) and to create a website to publish environmental compliance data.
Kyogle Mayor Ross Brown explained that the council’s quest to defer the final decision on the quarry stemmed from concerns raised about the capacity of the Cedar Point Bridge to handle traffic associated with the quarry.
“It is an old bridge and there are some concerns whether there might be some increased damage to the bridge by heavy loads,” Cr Brown said.
An agreement with the developer could have been voluntary or a “development contributions plan” imposed under state law.
Cr Brown said the council had not been required to develop a contributions plan for the bridge and had not had the funds to do so.
In 1996, Kyogle Council first submitted an application to develop the quarry itself but dropped the plan for lack of funds to rebuild the one-lane bridge that trucks would have to cross.
Only last month, a public meeting in Kyogle to gauge public opinion on the quarry revealed that locals were essentially positive about it.
?About 17 people addressed the meeting. About a third spoke in favour,? Garry West said. He added that one of the major issues was the haulage route and the quality of the bridge that will take up to 87 truck movements a day.
The Joint Regional Planning Panel found deficiencies in the council report and a peer review recommended further environmental assessments.
Sources: The Northern Star, ABC North Coast, ABC News