Quarry consent work delayed 

The unconsented quarry in question

The resource consent for a controversial Waipā quarry has stalled while planners acting for the district council seek further substantial information. 

Beacon Hill Contracting was to provide the information by June 30, but its consultants Mitchell Daysh have asked for an extension till August 12. 

The Maungatautari quarry has been mired in controversy since The News revealed in April it was operating without a resource consent and had been doing so for at least five years. The council suspended operations at the site on April 13. 

The four shareholders include former Waipā councillor Elwyn Andree-Wiltens who resigned from the council because of a conflict of interest 19 days after The News revealed her involvement and three days after mayor Jim Mylchreest called for her resignation. 

Independent consultants and commissioners, all paid for by Beacon Hill, would process any applications, Mylchreest said at the time. 

The principal planning and policy consultant for 4Sight, Louise Cowan, who works out of the company’s Hamilton office, is considering the application. 

Beacon Hill has applied to Waipā for a land use consent to operate four sand quarries at Oreipunga Road. The company has also applied for two consents from the regional council which would retrospectively authorise the sand quarrying activities and make the activities “lawful.” 

In an eight-page response to Beacon Hill on June 8, Cowan said statutory timeframes for the application had been put on hold while she waited for the response. 

Her two most significant requests were for a comprehensive landscape and visual assessment prepared by a qualified and experienced landscape architect or landscape planner and a copy of who has been consulted and what they said. 

The site borders the Waikato River and is only kilometres from the protected Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. 

Sources say the landscape assessment would take some weeks to prepare because Cowan is seeking an assessment of the potential adverse amenity effects that may occur when excavation is visible to the public. 

“This particularly relates to those parties utilising the Waikato River and on the terraced land across the Waikato River opposite to the site, including view shafts from Horahora Road, Little Waipā reserve and similar.” 

The News has consistently asked Waikato Regional Council to comment on the quarry. 

In June, a regional council incident response officer wrote to the original informant saying the council had taken “no sanction action” despite finding a breach at the site and the environment was at no risk from workings at the quarry. 

The letter from Cowan confirms the regional council had also requested additional information from Beacon Hill. She has said anything provided to the regional council must also be sent to Waipā. 

Cowan wants to know why the applicant needs a longer period than consent conditions allow, a rework of expected truck movements and load sizes, an estimate of existing baseline traffic from the site and an indication of what will happen to the excavated quarry area. 

She has sought quarry activity or records which show why the applicant believes 80 per cent of its demand will come from Cambridge and asked whether Waka Kotahi had seen the Intersection and Crash Analysis report to decide whether it had any concerns about the increase in traffic at the SH1 and SH3 intersections. 

Beacon Hill needs to review its calculation of financial contributions as greater use of Maungatautari Road past Karāpiro Domain might use more local roads and may increase the amount it has to pay the council, she said. 

Four of the 13 major resource consent applications lodged with Waipā and in progress relate to quarry applications but the list does not include one for RS Sand Ltd which wants to establish a giant quarry on the outskirts of Cambridge near the Cambridge golf course. 

 

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