Maintenance Products

Quarry settles out of court for exceeding limits

Wyanga Holdings, the New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services Department (RMA) and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) were set to appear before Justice Sheahan at the NSW Land and Environment Court on 27 November. However, Wyanga Holdings withdrew its appeal on the day over its Corindi Quarry licence issues, agreeing to pay costs for the EPA and RMS in the appeal.
Three months ago, the EPA suspended Wyanga Holdings? licence for the quarry for exceeding extraction limits. The EPA said that Wyanga Holdings had seriously breached the extraction limits on its licence in all three reporting periods since the licence was issued. Wyanga had apparently extracted more than 368,000 tonnes of aggregate, despite the licence for extraction amounting to 50,000 tonnes per annum.
As we reported last week, Wyanga Holdings recently approached solicitors for advice about Clause 94 of SEPP 2007 that appeared to allow special dispensation for quarries supplying government infrastructure. Clause 94 allows extraction operations undertaken by or on behalf of the RMS to not require consent. Since Corindi Quarry gravel was being used for the Pacific Highway upgrade, the company thought it had a valid argument.
After contacting the EPA, the company was advised that Clause 94 did not apply and that Wyanga needed development approval for further extraction. From that point onwards, the dispute headed to court.
Permission required for further extraction
?It appears settled that this provision does not apply to the subject quarry operator ? or any other similar quarry operations providing quarry material to any highway infrastructure project,? Gary Peacock, a quarries planning specialist from Outline Planning Consultants in northern NSW, said.
The outcome only applies to New South Wales. It means Wyanga Holdings will have to lodge a development application with Coffs Harbour City Council for consent to operate the quarry in excess of its original licence. The council rejected an earlier application.
In the light of the ruling, it appears that quarries can only supply highway infrastructure projects in accordance with the quarry production limits imposed by any local council or other authority and that they must also comply with any EPA licence.
Peacock said that new development approvals would need to be obtained if current quarry production limits need to be increased, even if these are for the supply of quarry material to infrastructure projects.
Development consent must be in place before the EPA will issue additional licences.
Sources: EPA NSW, Outline Planning Consultants, Land & Environment Court New South Wales

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