Fears over drinking water

Nanjing Night Net

ON THE ATTACK: Catherine and Tony Witcomb at their property in Eagleton, which would border a proposed rock quarry. They fear their rural way of life will be destroyed if the proposal receives the green light. Picture: Simone De Peak HUNTER WATER and the Roads and Maritime Service havecome out in opposition to plans for a hard rock quarry in the catchment for Newcastle’s main drinking water source.

Boral Resources –which operates the nearby Seaham Quarry – has also launched an attack onthe proposal, warningit contains“deficiencies, incorrect conclusions and inadequate mitigation measures”.

TheHeraldreported in February that plans for the quarry at Eagleton, north of Raymond Terrace, hadbeen resurrected after four years.

The EagletonRock Syndicate plans to extract around 10 milliontonnes of rock inside the boundaries of the catchment for Grahamstown Dam, which supplies about 20 per cent of Newcastle’s drinking water.

In a letter to the planning department, senior Hunter Water engineerMalcolm Withers said the organisation “does not support approval of the proposed development in its current form.”

Hunter Water found the syndicate had failed to show water discharged from the quarry would be of equal or better quality than what is currently leaving the site.

Its management plan had been designed for a “typical catchment” rather than a sensitive drinking water source, it argued.

It came as residents mobilised against the proposal, lodging nearly 50 objections with the Department of Planning and forming the Eagleton Residents Action Group.

“It’s a majorissue not just for us but for the people of Newcastle,” spokesperson Tony Witcomb said.

“Because of the Williamtown fiasco,Hunter Water have closed off use of some of the Tomago Sandbeds,soit’s more important than everthat the Grahamstown catchment doesn’t have any contamination issues.”

The quarry wouldcome within 150 metres of Mr Witcomb’s back fence and would see the removal of a hill that acts as a buffer between his home and the Boral quarry.

His home is also near a motorbike racing track and the site of the proposed $12 million Circuit Italia and Mr Witcomb said the company’sacoustic assessmenthad not taken into account all the noise sources in the area.

“The noise is going to be atrocious,” he said, adding most residents relied on tank water and feared it would be contaminated with dust.

The group has also pointed out a number of existing quarries in the area haveapplications before the state government for expansions.

“Why build a greenfield quarry whenthe infrastructure is not there and the quarry’s not required?” Mr Witcomb said. “It’s not like people are screaming out for gravel.”

In its objection, the Road and Maritime Service warned extra truck movements would put pressure on the intersection of the Pacific Highway and Italia Road, “exacerbating the potential safety risk”.

It found the intersection was likely to need upgrading if the quarrygoes ahead.

Boral Resources complainedit had not been consulted on the proposed development, despite the syndicate’s claims to the contrary.

The company said trafficassessments for the new quarry were based on the “incorrect” assumption it would cease operations by 2026 and the proposal had “ignored” noise and air quality impacts on the proposed Kings Hill subdivision.

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