A group of Marulan district residents is urging the community to lodge submissions on a company's plans to significantly increase its quarry output and associated truck numbers.
Gunlake Quarries has released its Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for its state significant proposal to boost hardrock production up to 4.2 million tonnes per annum at its Brayton Road operation. Currently it sits at a maximum 2.6m tonnes per annum.
The company also wants to increase truck movements to a maximum 750 inbound and outbound each day, six days a week on its main haul route. This takes in Brayton, Ambrose and Red Hills Roads and links up with the Hume Highway to travel north.
Red Hills Road property owner Ken Wray says it's a trebling of truck numbers and an unacceptable impost on the community who are concerned about road safety.
He has consistently argued that Gunlake should opt for rail, like Marulan district quarries Holcim and Boral. The company has ruled this out, arguing it wasn't feasible. In February, the council accepted this argument but urged Gunlake to better explain to the community why rail wasn't an option.
Mr Wray does not accept it. He will meet this week with Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman to push the issue and is prepared to take it further.
"We want a long-term transport plan rather than this 'come and go thing'," he said.
"..We are always optimistic. We think this will turn into a very big operation."
Gunlake is applying to extend the quarry's life by 30 years but Mr Wray says there's enough resource for another 90 years.
With another company, Cleary Brothers, sounding out a quarry on Carrick Road, some 2km from the Hume Highway intersection, he argues it's past time rail is explored further. He also cited Holcim's move to run 100 trucks daily from its Jonniefelds quarry on Brayton Road and others using the route to "dodge" the Marulan heavy vehicle checking station.
"I've nearly been wiped out a number of times," Mr Wray said.
He told The Post that most residents wanted rail due to the current impacts but it had wider benefits.
"The highway is already crowded with heavy vehicles and this proposal will severely exacerbate the situation," Mr Wray said.
"The sheer number of trucks will dramatically increase the danger for (travellers). Bowral, Mittagong, Moss Vale, Marulan, Bargo and Berrima etc will have extended travel times between the Southern Highlands/Tablelands and Sydney."
Gunlake has defended the haul route's quality. Representatives told a February council meeting that it had been upgraded well above regulatory standards and more would be done. The company also agreed the speed limit should be dropped from 100km/h to 80km/h in the interests of road safety.
At the time, council staff called for numerous improvements to the route which Gunlake successfully argued were unnecessary.
But Mr Wray says he's not satisfied with the standard.
"In their EIS they have quoted AustRoad standards where approaches to intersections should have 200 metre sight distances," he said.
"Three of their intersections don't meet that and that's why we need an independent study."
He's also calling for wider bridges and culverts on the route. Council staff in February also wanted this but councillors disagreed.
However Gunlake's EIS stated that an assessment concluded that impacts on road safety from the expansion was "negligible" and no major hazards would result from greater truck numbers.
"Additionally, the recorded crash history along the primary transport route does not indicate an existing or developing road safety problem that would be made worse by the proposed increase in heavy vehicle traffic to/from the Gunlake Quarry," the document stated.
Mr Wray said he asked the company to hold a public meeting about their expansion plan and to extend the November 4 deadline for submissions on the EIS, which However Gunlake declined on both counts.
He wants a "groundswell of public objection" and more than 50 submissions. This would trigger the Independent Planning Commission's consideration of the DA, rather than by state planners.
The project EIS can be viewed at https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/projects/40926
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