2 December 2022

Proposed reopening of Bournda quarry 'a big scare' for locals, neighbour claims

| Albert McKnight
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A ‘No Bournda Quarry’ public meeting was held at Bournda National Park recently, where people shared their concerns about the proposed reopening of the quarry. Photo: Supplied.

A proposed development application (DA) that aims to reopen a quarry at Bournda, on the NSW Far South Coast, has been met with concern by some locals.

“It’s a big scare for the local community,” neighbouring resident Skye Etherington said.

The application seeks to restart operations at Bournda Downs Quarry and extract up to 29,000 cubic metres of material annually over 15 years, according to a statement prepared for Blu Wren Pty Ltd, the owner of the site, in July last year.

The property is between Merimbula and Tathra and to the west of Wallagoot Lake. It adjoins Bournda Nature Reserve, while the Bournda National Park is located to the east.

Bournda Downs Quarry had been approved to operate at the site, without crushing or screening work, until 2010. The material it extracted was used as road base in the local area.

The statement said the property had recently changed hands and its new owners wanted to restart operations “to make this valuable resource available to the local area”.

The plan is to extract rhyolite for use in local road construction, being a material the statement says that “is not commonly available in the area making it a valuable resource”.

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But as part of the proposed extraction and processing methods at the quarry, there would be “drilling and blasting of fresh material” and “crushing, screening and stockpiling of materials”.

“For the extraction of hard rock, explosives would be used to dislodge and fracture the rock into a size which can be handled by the crushing plant,” the statement says.

The proposed extractions would happen on an intermittent, on-demand basis during the year. While the statement accepts there are three threatened species in the development area, it also says the operations won’t result in a significant impact on such species.

Ms Etherington said a public meeting on the proposed reopening of the quarry was held on Sunday (27 November), attended by 50 people from the Bega Valley.

“We’re doing everything we can to tell council we don’t want it and it’s not appropriate,” she said.

She said about 15 years ago, when the quarry was last operational, she would occasionally hear noise from the site, while dust was also an issue.

Now, her main concerns are over whether there will be blasting work or rock crushing, as well as the quarry’s potential impact on vulnerable species.

“It’s actually something that’s going to affect the whole area,” Ms Etherington said.

“The Sapphire Coast is known for being a beautiful nature place … is this what we want to happen with our nature zone?

“The whole region will experience the change in their values and aesthetic.”

In her submission to Bega Valley Shire Council objecting to the DA, she also said vulnerable glossy black cockatoos lived in the area and fed near the quarry site. She argued restarting the quarry would likely have a significant impact on these birds.

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A council spokesperson said council’s assessment of the proposal had recommenced after more information had been provided by the applicant.

They said the application had been on public exhibition for two weeks and residents had until the end of November to lodge their submissions, but the documents remained on council’s DA Tracker website.

“All aspects of the quarry operation will be assessed by council staff, as is required under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979,” the council spokesperson said.

When the staff assessment has finished, the application will be reported to council for determination. The meeting date for council to discuss the issue will be publicised.

“It is considered that the assessment process will take several months from the close of the exhibition period,” the spokesperson said.

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