Small council, big win: Dungog makes history with quarry judgment Opposition: Protesting residents near Martins Creek Quarry in 2014. Dungog Shire Council has won a landmark case against the quarry after a judge found operations were unlawful and significantly beyond an original 1991 consent.
Transformation: A Land and Environment Court judge has found Martins Creek Quarry has operated as a general quarry and road construction manufacturing base rather than the originally approved railway ballast quarry.
Expansive: The Martins Creek Quarry site in Dungog. A judge has found it has expanded significantly outside the originally approved 5 hectare footprint.
Operations: Hundreds of trucks per day ferried quarried material from Martins Creek through Paterson.
Expansion: A judge has found only 2.5 per cent of quarried material has left the quarry by rail, despite a 1991 consent requiring 70 per cent of quarried material to be railed from the site.
TweetFacebook Dungog Council wins a big fight in the Land and Environment CourtDUNGOG Shire Council has won alandmarkcase after a Land and Environment Court judge found theMartins Creek Quarryhas beenoperating unlawfully in a judgment that is the longest in the court’s history.
Acting JusticSimon Molesworth orderedquarry owner Daracon to pay the council’s legal costs after finding the quarry hasoperated for years outside anoriginal consent that allowed State Rail to quarry material for railway ballast.
JusticeMolesworth found the quarry had mined significantly beyond the 5 hectare footprint of an original 1991 approval as part of a“transformation” into a general quarry and asphalt manufacturing business that was unlawful. In the process the quarry hasbeen responsible for a dramatic increase in the number of truck movements through small Dungog villages including Paterson that has hada significant negative impact on those villages.
Dungog Mayor Tracy Norman said the 380-page judgmentvalidated the council’s decision to challenge the quarryin court despite the possibility that a loss, and associated legal costs expected to be in the millions of dollars, would have represented an existential threat to the smallcouncil.
“It is a good result. The decision validated the position council took on behalf of the local community and being awarded costs has meant that council’s finances have not been negatively impacted,” Ms Norman said.
“The judgment has been long awaited, particularly by residents of Paterson and surrounds who have been exposed daily to a large number of truck movements through their township that have led to noise complaints, safety concerns and reduced amenity.”
Expansion: The Martins Creek Quarry has operated unlawfully and significantly beyond its original 5 hectare footprint since a 1991 consent, a judge has found.
Justice Molesworth has given Daracon 14 days to provide an interim environmental management plan which will reduce quarry operations to original development consents and reduce the impact of quarrying on local villages. The company has three months to finalise a new state significant development application for the quarry that must take into account the concerns and views of Martins Creek and Paterson communities and includefull environmental assessments.
ADaracon spokesperson said the company was reviewing the decision to understand the potential impact but it “appears disappointingly punitive”.
“Daracon has at all times acknowledged the difficulties for all parties resulting from the sometimes conflicting consents but has sought to operate in good faith,” the spokesperson said.
“Daracon, its employees, customers and the community have all struggled to make sense of uncertainty that has resulted from multiple legacy arrangements surrounding the Martins Creek Quarry’s operations. All of these pre-date Daracon’s operation of the quarry.”
The spokesperson said it was too early to consider the possibility of an appeal but the company was considering all options, including preparing a new development application to obtain a new consent.
“We remain committed to working with Dungog Council for constructive outcomes,” the spokesperson said.
While you’re with us, did you know The Herald is now offering breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up-to-date with all the local news – sign up here.