Proponents of a hardrock quarry near Goulburn have much more work to do if they're to meet community expectations, says the council.
General manager Warwick Bennett was speaking after councillors discussed a response to the State Government about Global Quarries Australia's plans for a hardrock quarry on Winfarthing Road, 10km southwest of Marulan.
The council will lodge a formal submission on the proposal to extract 500,000 tonnes annually from a site off the Hume Highway. Residents are upset about the project and are turning to the council for information and help.
On Tuesday, before their meeting, consultants GHD made a presentation to councillors.
But afterwards, Mr Bennett was no more assured of the details.
"They went through some of the issues we raised in our report but I have to say they are a long way short in terms of satisfying us with what is required," he said.
"...The concern for us is the complete vacuum of information and it's quite frustrating trying to work with the community but also decipher exactly what they (Global Quarries) want to do so we can tell people. They don't even know and that vacuum is quite unacceptable in my opinion."
Mr Bennett was referring specifically to water use, traffic and environmental impacts. Global Quarries wants to clear a large area for the quarry that residents say will devastate biodiversity in the E3 environmental management zone. They're also worried about the planned 45 trucks daily traversing the first 200 metres of Winfarthing Road to a forestry road turnoff.
Councillors agreed to lodge a submission calling for traffic, visual, noise, vibration, air quality, biodiversity and heritage impacts to be addressed. They also want more details on the site's suitability and community consultation.
In response to residents' concerns, they're requesting that a full interchange be built at the Winfarthing Road/Hume Highway intersection as a matter of safety.
The company has released a preliminary environmental assessment but council planners wanted more information about hours of operation, particularly for blasting, types of machinery to be used, number of employees, project staging and more.
Winfarthing Road resident of 37 years, Wendy Dally told councillors during open forum that there had been a dearth of information about the project and the community had galvanised as a result.
"How would you feel if your rural residential lifestyle is threatened by explosives and silica dust, second only to asbestos as a dangerous, hazardous substance that causes cancer?" she asked.
Mrs Dally said people's connection to the land and biodiversity would be deeply affected by the land clearing. Thirteen threatened species were in the area, including spotted quolls and koalas.
"We are not hippies or tree huggers; we happen to be people living in the bush," she said.
"We are not farmers and definitely not hobby farmers...We are just a unique group of peopel who live in close proximity - caring for the environment and each other."
Mrs Dally said people's lives had been put on hold as a result of the quarry and property values had "plummeted $150,000."
"Who wants to live near a quarry?" she asked.
Three homes are within 200 metres of the property. The council has also asked that the development address its development control plan which dictated a 1000-metre buffer distance between extractive industry and a residence.
"There are a number of dwellings within the 1km radius," planners' report stated.
Mrs Dally told councillors that residents only had four weeks to respond to a lengthy and very detailed document. They were relying on the council to guide them through the process.
She suffers from stage four incurable cancer. Mrs Dally said in consultation with palliative care, she and her family had decided she would die at home "among the peace quiet."
"I'm extremely concerned this will be taken from us," she said.
GHD technical director Anne-Marie Kirkman said she did not agree there was a vacuum of information.
"But I agree there is a lot more to do," she said.
Ms Kirkman said this was simply a function of the planning process. The company had elected to understand the issues first to then tailor the final environmental assessment to concerns.
"We're starting the conversation early but we've said all along that we'll be doing detailed technical assessments," she said.
"We'll be doing a full environmental assessment and we're absolutely committed to sharing that information with the community."
Ms Kirkman said the technical assessments could not be done until the Department of Environment and Planning issued its formal requirements (SEARS). However The Post has seen Departmental correspondence asking the applicant for outstanding information by May 16 so the SEARs could be issued.
A public exhibition process will follow the environmental assessment.
Regarding the acceptability of an interchange, Ms Kirkman said there would likely be traffic safety and mitigation measures but whether that involved an interchange was undecided at this stage.
"We do need to make it safe for employees, residents and Hume Highway users," she said.
The company will hold a drop-in session onsite from 10am to 1pm on May 25. But Mrs Dally said residents would much prefer a public meeting to be fully informed all at once.
Ms Kirkman agreed there needed to be a more formal, in depth session and said this would likely be held in Marulan after the SEARS were issued.
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