THE state’s peak environment watchdog has slammed a “potentially misleading” report by a major Australian building supplies group that includes a discrepancy of more than 300 in the number of daily truck movements from a controversial Hunter quarry upgrade.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority said it was unable to recommend conditions for the proposed Hansons Brandy Hill Quarry upgrade because of serious inadequacies in an environmental impact statement (EIS), including truck movements, and blasting, air and noise assessments.
Different parts of the report predicted an annual production increase from 700,000 to 1.5 million tonnes of quarried material would mean daily vehicle movements ranging from 524 to 584, with a formal traffic impact assessment saying vehicle movements would reach 904 per day, and primarily trucks and trailers.
Hourly vehicle movements ranged from 66 to 84, with a prediction of up to 150 movements per hour in peak periods in one section of the EIS.
The EIS also failed to include correct truck movements from the Martins Creek Quarry, which has also proposed a doubling of production, and Eagleton Quarry, the EPA said.
Community groups in affected areas have strongly and repeatedly criticised Brandy Hill Quarry for minimalising the impact of truck movements from existing operations, particularly on Brandy Hill Drive and its intersection with Clarence Town Road. The criticism was given greater weight on Thursday with a fatal crash between two cars at the intersection, which is the main access to and from the quarry.
A noise impact assessment prepared for Hansons, and working on the lowest likely future quarry truck movements, said noise impacts on surrounding areas would be acceptable if 584 trucks travelled to and from the quarry per day. The figure is 320 movements below the traffic impact assessment report prepared for Hansons, that is included in another section of the EIS.
The EPA said the community “could be misled” into thinking traffic noise would meet criteria if it relied on the noise impact assessment alone, and the environmental impact statement was “potentially misleading” because of the traffic discrepancies.
“There needs to be clear and unambiguous statements made as to the predicted maximum number of vehicles per hour that will travel along Brandy Hill Drive should the project be approved,” the EPA said.
The Department of Planning has questioned Hansons’ proposal to expand operations from its current 6am to 6pm, to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.