Multiquip Quarries' expansion proposal upsets Bungonia residents

Multiquip Quarries general manager Jason Mikosic says everything the company is asking in a modified application for the Ardmore Park quarry at Bungonia is "reasonable."

Multiquip Quarries general manager Jason Mikosic says everything the company is asking in a modified application for the Ardmore Park quarry at Bungonia is "reasonable."

Owners of the Ardmore Park quarry near Bungonia should not be allowed to expand production before associated road works are completed, says a resident.

Jerrara Road property owner Ros Beveridge was speaking about Multiquip Quarries’ bid to increase sand and basalt output from 400,000 to 580,000 tonnes annually.

The application before NSW Planning also asks to extend the extraction pit by 3.5 hectares; to increase the maximum number of trucks transporting material from 88 to 124 daily; and increase operating hours for loading and transportation from 5am to 10pm Monday to Friday and 5am to 5pm on Saturdays.

The company also wants to build a bitumen pre-coating plant and extend the quarry’s life by eight years to 2047.

The project, 4km south of Bungonia on Oallen Ford Road, has generated community controversy throughout its protracted approval process, finally granted in 2009. Residents and the council opposed the original project in NSW Land and Environment Court cases and Planning Assessment Commission hearings, based on road and amenity impacts.

The latest modified application has angered some residents.

Mrs Beveridge, who lives 2km along Jerrara Road from Mountain Ash Road, said Multiquip was “putting the cart before the horse.” She argued the company had still not completed upgrade of the haul route from a village bypass, emanating at Mountain Ash Road, and along Jerrara Road to the Hume Highway. A schedule of works was outlined in consent conditions.  

“They still have to widen one side of Jerrara Road and fix more culverts and bridges,” she said.

“The road should be tested before they even think about ramping up production...They are now asking to extend considerably the haulage hours and truck movements, which is absurd. The amenity of the area would be severely impacted. It is totally unacceptable to have trucks running past your door step between 5am and 10pm.”

Mrs Beveridge said the company had taken 18 months to undertake roadworks to date and doubted they would be finished by June, as the company had stated.

She pointed to “substandard” stage two road widening works that the council had insisted be rectified before Multiquip moved to stage three work on the route.

“No one is overseeing the quality of work. The council only goes out when someone complains,” she said.

“Ever since we moved here (in 2002), it’s been nothing but trouble.”

NSW Planning is responsible for policing consent conditions, however Goulburn Mulwaree Council oversees the quality of roadworks. A council spokesman said they were monitoring this work “on a regular basis.”

Owners of the Ardmore park quarry near Bungonia are asking for a 180,000 tonne annual increase for the sand and basalt material. Photo: Armore Park Environmental Assessment by RW Corkery and Co Pty Ltd.

Owners of the Ardmore park quarry near Bungonia are asking for a 180,000 tonne annual increase for the sand and basalt material. Photo: Armore Park Environmental Assessment by RW Corkery and Co Pty Ltd.

“Not an expansion”

But Multiquip general manager Jason Mikosic said the road had vastly improved and the remaining work, including four culverts, bridges and widening, would be completed by May. Jerrara Road will be closed from 6pm Wednesday, February 7 for 12 hours. 

He rejected suggestions the application was an expansion.

“It is more about aligning the conditions of consent with day to day operations. We got our approval 10 years ago and things have changed. We’re aligning operations with today’s technology, work practices and best practice,” he said.

Mr Mikosic stressed there was no increase in average annual truck movements despite the request for a rise in the maximum number allowed daily. But the application states that trucks would be carrying 50.3 tonnes, compared to the current 30 to 33 tonnes.

“No additional impacts on the road pavement are assessed as likely,” the application states.

While acknowledging some sectors of the community would be opposed to the increased operational hours, the applicants stated these could be achieved with “limited effect on local amenity and in compliance with road standards and noise criteria.” A driver code of conduct would be implemented and the company would liaise with the community on further mitigation.

“I think we’ve done a very thorough assessment of the modification and when you look at it, everything we’re suggesting is reasonable,” he said.

Multiquip has also appointed a community liaison officer. In addition, it is in talks with the council about holding a public meeting in the village in the week beginning February 12.

Bungonia Progress Association president Bill Dobbie said he appreciated the company’s efforts to engage with the community, including painting the village hall and paying for signage.

“But we don’t want trucks increasing from 88 to 124 daily and we’re not keen on them being on the road when it’s dark...The roads have improved a bit but they’re still not the best.”

Mr Dobbie said people didn’t want a 100-year war” with Multiquip but nor did they welcome “continuous truck movements.”

He told The Post the company had advised it wanted the truck increase to take account of wet weather and the days it couldn’t operate. Mr Dobbie said this was not reflected in the application’s wording and speculated that a stockpile between Marulan and Sydney would be a better solution. Mr Mikosic did not wish to comment on this.

The Progress Association will discuss the matter at its meeting on February 12 at 7.30pm in the village hall.

Councillors will consider a submission to NSW Planning at their February 20 meeting.

It will also address Multiquip’s request to enter into a voluntary planning agreement with the council to replace section 94 road contributions. 

The development application is on public exhibition until February 26. The council is asking for an extra two days.

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