Quarry expansion riles residents

Lismore City Councils planned expansion of its Blakebrook quarry has neighbouring residents nervous about its impact on wildlife and traffic but Council says theres little to worry about.

The quarry, the biggest of four Council-owned quarries, is around six kilometres from Lismore on the Nimbin Road.

Council is asking the state government for permission to extract 600,000 tonnes of material per year compared to the 270,000 tonnes it extracts now.

The Goolmangar Environmental Action Group says the increased heavy traffic from the quarry operation will affect neighbours amenity with noise and dust as well as the local population of koalas, a threatened species, which could see some of their habitat lost as a result.

Group spokesman Alex Zychal said annual production from the quarry was set to triple not only by digging deeper but also by stripping new areas of land and the area surrounding the quarry contains a koala corridor and now the Council wants to put that at further risk.

The increase in trucks driving along these country roads will affect both locals and tourists we are already concerned about the dangerous speeds that trucks can reach on the Lismore-Nimbin Road, which is steep and winding in several places, and the expansion of the quarry will have a negative effect on road safety, Mr Zychal said.

Mr Zychal claimed Council did not have a good compliance record with the existing quarry and his action group had complained many times before to Council and the state government about noise and non-compliance over restrictions on operating hours and there had been little response on most occasions.

But Councils quarry manager Alf Werner dismissed the residents concerns, saying he was irritated by the misinformation bandied about in relation to the quarry.

He said that under the Planning Act, Council had to fully assess the impacts on flora and fauna, and look at traffic, noise, dust, water, visual amenity and aesthetics so its quite specific what we have to address.

He said the quarry itself was not visible from the road and more than 90 per cent of the expansion would be downward so were not going to knock trees down or destroy habitat.

Mr Werner said a key criteria of the environmental consultants working on the proposal was that it not impact on the environment.

He said it was an important and significant revenue stream for Council, bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We supply all our road works material for the shire from this quarry and we subsidise supply back to Council, he said. So if we shut the quarry down, Lismore would have to source the bulk of its material outside the shire and pay market rate and extra haulage costs, so it would have a significant impact if it were to close.

Its an opportunity to generate income for Council activities and not many councils take that opportunity, or are good at it, and this Council is quite good at it so our quarry puts a little handbrake on rate increases.

At the end of day, we need to expand our quarry in order to protect our revenue stream we have protective measures in place and have prepared a significant environmental impact study and the Minister will decide if its good enough or not, he said.

The draft plan is due to be considered by Planning Minister Frank Sartor next month and its public exhibition is due before the end of June.

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