Concerns over getting fill to Bombo Quarry

Councillor Warren Steel (centre) with some of the members of WAKE UP Kiama Downs by the proposed truck route

With the exhibition period for Boral’s application to modify the DA for its quarry closing on 17 June, Keith Dedden believes people are only just beginning to understand the impact of what is being proposed.

As reported in previous posts, Boral is seeking approval to prepare the site for development by backfilling it with clean fill from tunnelling infrastructure projects in metro Sydney.

It is looking to modify its existing quarrying consent to allow it to bring material onto the site via its Panama Street access point.

The fill will be transported via road (down the southern end of Riverside Drive and along Hutchison St) and rail, with the rehabilitation expected to take between five to seven years.

As a member of the residents’ action group WAKE UP Kiama Downs, Mr Dedden has leveraged off his professional civil engineering, and assessment and approval, experience to make a submission to Council.

With his house backing onto the train line at Cathedral Rocks, he has been aware of the scope of the project from the start, attending the consultations provided by Boral and studying the proposal in detail.

“It isn’t so much the backfilling of the Quarry that is a concern, it is the way they are proposing to transport the excavated material from Sydney, and are trying to get it approved through a modification to the existing consent,” he says.

“We know it has to be transported, but not for 24/7 for 365 days a year for 5-8 years, through residential streets and via night trains.

“256 trucks a day down Riverside Drive is sure to cause an accident.

“This is an intolerable situation.

“We are concerned about the health impacts of the noise, the dust and trains waking people at night for years.”

Boral is looking to modify a quarrying consent granted in 1971, rather than lodging a new Development Application.

Mr Dedden has a number of issues with this strategy, including that the original consent didn’t require backfilling, but just the spreading of the overburden on the quarry floor.

“Boral is choosing to do the refilling, yet they want to rely on an approval given for quarrying.

“The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EP&A Act) didn’t exist back then.

“They are operating under an Environment Protection Licence which limits them to 500,000t of extracted material a year, but they are looking at putting back 1.4 million tonnes per annum.

“The EP&A Act says that if you are a consent authority and are looking at granting a modification you must be convinced it is substantially the same development as that which was originally approved.

“This is nothing like that. It is many times larger, and is putting sandstone back in rather than taking basalt out.”

A spokesman for Boral says that the modification pathway was accepted by Council at a pre-lodgement meeting.

“The ‘substantially the same’ test is a considered weighing up of facts presented in a quantitative manner, which is why our Bombo proposal also included detailed technical reports for traffic, air quality, noise and surface water.”

He went on to say that the comparison needed to accept it as a modification include:

  • considering the circumstances in which the original development consent was granted
  • appreciating the quantitative as well as qualitative differences (as set out the application’s the Statement of Environmental Effects)
  • assessing the physical features that are changed, and also the environmental impacts of the changes
  • determining whether there are any changes to important, material or essential features of the development.

“The modification has provided an opportunity for us to undertake a contemporary impact assessment using the latest environmental modelling requirements.”

The process has been guided by the site’s Environment Protection Licence, last amended in 2012, which contains a number of more modern environmental elements, including an annual production limit.

Despite the pre-lodgement thumbs up, WAKE UP Kiama Downs’ submission is calling for Council to require a new DA to be submitted, rather than assessing it as a modification.

“Because of the size of the proposal, it would then be classified as a designated development, which would mean it would require an Environmental Impact Statement to be prepared for it,” says Mr Dedden.

Another point against the modification is that neither Council or Boral possess a copy of the original 1971 consent and all the documents associated with it.

“I don’t know how Council can modify something without the original document,” says Mr Dedden.

If Council does choose to assess the modification, the residents’ group is calling for it to include conditions such as:

  • restricting the transportation to be between 6am and 10pm
  • requiring Boral to negotiate with Sydney Trains to obtain access to its site via the roundabout off the M1 rather than using residential roads
  • requirements on the quality of the fill
  • a study to look at minimising the landfill required.

IDEAL SOLUTION IS VIA SYDNEY TRAINS LAND

Councillor Warren Steel says more and more people are approaching him with their concerns about the impact of the trains and trucks in a residential area.

“I know it has got to be filled, but it has to come in by truck,” says Cllr Steel, who lives between Riverside Drive and the railway.

“We’ll do everything we can to stop it, especially when there is the ideal solution of having the trucks turn right off the highway at the roundabout.

“If this current plan is approved, the people along the trainline will cop it day and night, and everyone will be up in arms.

“It just can’t happen.”

He’s also worried the weight of the trains, heavily laden and 37 carriages long, will cause a land slip resulting in disruption to essential services infrastructure.

“We’ve got to get Boral and State Rail talking to each other to allow access via the roundabout.”

To this end, Gareth Ward MP has responded to the residents’ group’s request and sent a letter to the NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance, asking for Sydney Trains to assist by negotiating access through its site by Boral.

 

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