The council general manager has slammed as "an abuse of process" a fourth application to develop a controversial quarry due east of Goulburn.
The proposal to extract 30,000 cubic metres of basalt over seven to 10 years has been refused three times by the council, the Joint Regional Planning Panel and the NSW Land and Environment Court between 2011 and 2019.
Each time it has been lodged under different company names.
Warwick Bennett didn't hold back in his criticism of the most recent application. Laterals Planning, on behalf of Antiquaire Pty Ltd, has requested the State's planning department to issue its requirements for preparation of an environmental impact statement. The company wants to develop the quarry at 63 Curlewin Lane, off Tiyces Lane, some 15km from Goulburn.
"It's very frustrating," Mr Bennett said.
"The last (Land and Environment Court) case cost $110,000 and this application means we may have to spend a similar amount again. I think this is an absolute misuse of the whole process and it's just wrong."
The council will tell the Department of Industry, Planning and Environment exactly that. Councillors decided at their meeting on Tuesday to also stress that it considers "the latest proposal as unreasonable and not in the public interest."
It is calling for a full assessment of impacts on road and traffic, visual amenity, noise, vibration, air quality and biodiversity and is raising concerns about the project's sustainability, site suitability and the level of community consultation. A copy of the May, 2019 Land and Environment Court's refusal will also be made available to the Department.
At that time, the court refused the plan partly on the basis of "insufficient information." Specifically, it was not assured there was adequate detail to ensure road safety and did not accept the company's arguments that landowner's consent wasn't required at that stage to upgrade part of the road. Further, the DA did not comply with the planning act.
Residents have argued strongly that the quarry operator's 22 trucks daily would compromise road safety.
That application was lodged by Jasminco Resources Pty Ltd. Madeleine Miller is a director. Her father, Peter Miller was a former director of Figtree Reserve Pty Ltd, which lodged a 2011 DA for the same project. Mr Miller was also linked to Argyle (NSW) Pty Ltd, which submitted a 2014 application subsequently refused by the council. Court action in regard to this bid was discontinued in 2017.
Given this history, it would be reasonable to suspect that the latest application could be considered an abuse of process and not in the public interest.Council planners
Mr Bennett said despite the court last year upholding the Joint Regional Planning Panel's 2017 refusal and awarding $110,000 in legal costs to the council, "it hadn't received one cent."
"(They) refuse to pay," he said.
Similar attempts to recover costs from the previous two companies had also failed because they had been wound up, Mr Bennett told The Post.
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He said the Department and court were in a difficult position because they had no other option than to accept the applications "at face value."
"But we need to make very strong representations that we believe this involves the same principles for which the last three were knocked back and that for the council to maintain integrity we need to spend another $100,000 of ratepayers' funds. I think it's damned unreasonable," he said.
Council planners have raised several concerns with the project, which is in preliminary stages. It proposes a hard rock quarry across 4.5 hectares of a 89.14ha site and acceleration and deceleration lanes on the Hume Highway around Tiyces Lane.
Tuesday's report to councillors challenged the applicant's arguments that construction of these roads and other roadworks did not require planning consent.
"(They) are a key component of the proposal, therefore should be assessed as part of the development," the document stated.
"Failing to consider this leaves too many questions unanswered, particularly with regard to safety for both council and the broader community, many of whom provided representations at the recent court proceedings."
Planners also questioned the stated value of the work, saying they did not believe it was an "accurate estimate." They also wanted more details on truck operations, the ability of Tiyces Lane to handle two-way traffic and said its intersection with the Hume Highway didn't currently support trucks safely turning right to travel north.
In addition, they called for extensive community consultation, including identification of the people and properties affected and more details on the site's suitability.
The project is designated development, sits within an E3 environmental zone, and will be determined by the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel.
"...The site has a well documented history of unsuccessful applications for extractive industries," planners wrote.
"Council has expended significant time and monetary resources over the past 10 years only for further applications to be made. Given this history, it would be reasonable to suspect that the latest application could be considered an abuse of process and not in the public interest."
The council has nevertheless provided its environmental requirements.
The Post has endeavoured to contact Mr Miller without success. However Laterals Planning consultant Keith Allen said there would be some slight variations to the DA, which were subject to more detailed design
"It will be more consolidated. There will also be consultation with neighbours in accordance with the NSW planning act. Neighbours have already been notified," he said.
Tiyces Lane resident Tony Egan was one of several residents who spoke against the quarry at the 2017 planning panel hearing and the 2018 court proceedings.
He said the first people knew about another application was via a letter put in just some mailboxes. It did not identify the proponent but asked if they would have objections to a quarry in the area.
"We complained previously about the level of community consultation and then we receive this," he said.
"...The whole community is concerned that costs awarded to the council have not been paid twice now and now there's another application. It's very frustrating and our lives are on hold again....It's a farce."
Mr Egan said the project was too close to homes, with 10 within 1km, and it was not appropriate to have such a large industrial enterprise nearby due to noise, dust and amenity issues. Further, he argued it shouldn't be allowed in the E3 environment zone.
"It shouldn't even pass go," he said.
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