Environmental groups seek conservation plan for Hunter region quarries

A map of existing and proposed quarries in the region. Image: supplied.

A TRIO of environmental groups are calling for a management plan for new and expanding quarry locations in the Lower Hunter and surrounding area.

The three organisations – EcoNetwork Port Stephens, Gloucester Environment Group, and Hunter Community Environment Centre – have called for the NSW Government to create a combined strategy and conservation plan to manage the cumulative effects of quarries upon the region’s environment.

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“The combined impacts of five operational quarries (Brandy Hill, Boral-Seaham, Martins Creek, Karuah East and Karuah) and five new proposals (Eagleton, Stone Ridge, Deep Creek, Hillview, and Karuah South) affect the Local Government Areas of Port Stephens, MidCoast and Dungog Shire,” the groups’ joint release said.

“These quarries present risks to community safety, rural amenity and the condition of the environment, including waterways, threatened and endangered species and habitat.”

The coalition of environmental groups is insisting that proactive, strategic planning is urgently required, to mitigate the long-term negative effects of ‘ad-hoc hard rock quarry developments’ in the Lower Hunter Region.

The groups have published six points for urgent State Government consideration, claiming that planning and environmental laws are failing, threatened species’ habitats are at risk, end-of-life operational standards are lacking, risks to climate are conspicuously unmentioned, and demand appears to be considered as ‘infinite’.

In response, the NSW Government’s Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI) said applications for new hard rock quarries or quarry extensions in NSW are “rigorously assessed” for environmental, social and economic impacts.

“These assessments consider issues including the suitability of each site,” a department spokesperson said.

“Potential impacts on threatened wildlife, native habitat, waterways, traffic, noise, air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, visual amenity and the rehabilitation of the quarry when production ceases are carefully considered.

“Cumulative impacts of nearby projects are also considered along with the economic benefits of providing construction materials for roads, housing and infrastructure.

“Most of the approved quarries were referred to the Independent Planning Commission for determination.”

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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