Residents query expansion of Hanson quarry at Brandy Hill

OPPOSED: Some of the Brandy Hill residents who are opposed to the expansion of the Hanson quarry. Picture taken February 2019.
OPPOSED: Some of the Brandy Hill residents who are opposed to the expansion of the Hanson quarry. Picture taken February 2019.

A recommendation from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to approve, with conditions, the expansion of the Hanson quarry at Brandy Hill has left many residents in the small Port Stephens community fearing the destruction of the local koala habitat.

Hanson, which is proposing to more than double hard rock production from the current 700,000 tonnes a year, said it was committed to operating the quarry in an environmentally friendly manner.

But residents say there are serious environmental risks, particularly for the koala and other native animal populations, in addition to concerns over road safety, health, noise and dust emissions if production levels reach 1.5 million tonnes a year over the next 30 years.

Residents have been provided with an opportunity to voice their views on the recommendations when the commission hosts an electronic public meeting from 10am on Friday, June 12.

Anyone wishing to speak must complete an expressions of interest form available on the Independent Planning Commission's website or by emailing no later than 5pm on Friday, June 5.

Written submissions will also be accepted up to seven days after the June 12 meeting via email, post or the online portal

Brandy Hill and Seaham Action Group, who represent many of the 1000 resident expected to be impacted by the proposal, has been fighting the expansion on environmental and safety grounds for four years.

Spokesperson Margarete Ritchie said that the group has never opposed the ongoing operation of the quarry, "however, we opposed the first proposal of operating hours to 24/7 for both crushing and dispatch and have been requesting that road safety and health issues regarding dust and noise pollution be addressed".

"Hanson's original proposed would have been a huge imposition on this local community. While some of these issues have been modified through the commission's recommendations, there is still concern over the destruction of habitat for the koala population as well as numerous other animals," she said.

"Forty-five hectares of bushland will be cleared for this expansion and it spells the end for the koala. We will also be seeking a commitment from Hanson on the construction of a footpath along Brandy Hill Drive to ensure the safety of school children walking to and from the construction of [expected] bus bays."

Mrs Ritchie said that the action group was formed in 2013 after residents had noticed an increase in the number of quarry truck movements.

"We have every right to be able to move from home to bus stops or to walk/ride in safety," she said.

"When two trucks pass on Brandy Hill Drive they must cross the white lines and pedestrians have no safe passage. With up to 622 truck movements per day it is their responsibility to ensure the community's safety."

Also making news in Port Stephens