The proposed layout of the new quarry planned for Coominya.
The proposed layout of the new quarry planned for Coominya.

New quarry development off to a rocky start

THE developer of a new quarry has had its request not to supply GPS coordinates, and changes to noise restrictions blocked by council.

In December, Somerset Regional Council approved Zanows Concrete and Quarries’ application to establish a 160 hectare mine site off Rocky Gully Rd near Coominya.

The approval included a number of conditions, some of which the developer wished to negotiate, as communicated in a message sent to council in January.

Due to council elections and the coronavirus pandemic, councillors did not have the opportunity to address the subject until last week’s meeting.

“This isn’t about assessing the merits of the application as a whole, just the conditions they want to negotiate,” Luke Hannan, director of Planning and Development, said at the meeting.

“They’re entitled to make these representations as part of the application process.”

There were six conditions the developer wished to address, some of which council was happy to approve.

Four of these – an exemption for track-mounted machinery from a requirement for vehicles to be refuelled at a specific location, an extension to the period allowed for work to begin before the approval is revoked, changes to timing requirements, and the correction of minor typographical errors – were approved without issue.

READ MORE: WORK: 16+ jobs to come with new quarry

However, council stood its ground on two of the conditions.

One of these requirements asked for GPS coordinates to be included as part of the site plan, clearly detailing exactly where all buildings and equipment would be placed.

The developer felt there was no need for coordinates to be included, as council officers could easily see how far apart installations were by consulting the plan.

Council argued specific coordinates would be beneficial, to provide certainty to both the council and the developer, and make it easier for the council to verify the quarry’s location.

READ MORE: Developments to bring 147 homes, new cattery to rural towns

As part of the application, a report was made assessing the level of noise the quarry might generate, and the impact this would have on nearby properties, with one of council’s conditions stating that sound from each individual location and piece of equipment was not allowed to exceed the levels outlined in the report.

The developer wrote that the focus of noise impact requirements should be on the amount of noise audible beyond the boundaries of quarry, not how much noise was generated by each individual on-site activity and item.

Council rejected this proposal, stating the developer’s proposed change to the wording from “must not exceed” to “must be in general compliance with” noise limits was too vague and uncertain, and that the developer had a duty of care to ensure its activities were not adversely impacting residents.

READ MORE: Developments, closures: 5 decisions on council’s agenda

Councillor Sean Choat agreed with the firmness of the conditions.

“I think it’s very important, given discussion in the community,” Cr Choat said.

“They should have confidence in the applicant in regards to environmental impacts, and the effect on neighbours.”

The quarry proposal proved to be contentious with residents when it was first put forward, with 49 submissions raising concerns to council before the application was approved, including a petition with 76 signatures.

“I’m glad we’ve been able to work with the developer, but also stand our ground in addressing those community concerns,” Cr Choat said.