District plan fight brews over quarry

By Alexandra Newlove

1 comment
A proposal by Otaika Quarry operators to dump topsoil and unwanted rock on a grazing site close to people's homes has not found favour with residents.
A proposal by Otaika Quarry operators to dump topsoil and unwanted rock on a grazing site close to people's homes has not found favour with residents.

Residents near a major Whangarei quarry fear they will be subjected to noise, dust and ugly terrain if the quarrying company is allowed to dump excess earth by their properties.

Otaika Quarry operator GBC Winstone is asking for a change to Whangarei's district plan that would potentially allow them to dump truckloads of topsoil, vegetation and unwanted rock on a 40ha piece of farmland, east of the existing quarry.

This material is called overburden and the quarry-owned grazing site - dubbed Peagram Block - is a direct neighbour of more than 25 properties on and near Raumanga's Smeaton Dr.

Mia Barton-Boots, on behalf of the Southern Whangarei Action Group, said residents' concerns were around pollution, important sites to Maori and noise.

Residents had been given the impression GBC had bought the block to provide a "buffer" between the quarry and residents but now wanted to expand operations onto the site, she said.

"It'll be too much dust, too much noise, and really it's not an acceptable proposal," she said. There was also worry around Maori archaeological sites near Peagram Block, including a burial site which existed within a network of caves and could extend under the area.

Whangarei District Council declined the company's request for the area to be included in the council's proposed Minerals Plan Change, currently under review. But GBC Winstone would now make a submission asking the council to reconsider and could appeal the final version of the plan change if it did not get its way. The council would have to defend this in court.

Representatives from GBC promised residents at a May public meeting in Raumanga that the piles of overburden would not block views and that the company would landscape the area.

A GBC spokeswoman told the Advocate the company was working with the council, iwi and residents and that it "takes pride in long-standing relationships with the local area". Overburden dumping would occur once every three to four years in campaigns between two and eight months in length. "Potential impacts will be managed via a comprehensive resource consent process. Importantly, only a small area will be open at any one time and the Peagram Block will continue to be grazed throughout."

Otaika Quarry employed 18 full-time staff and up to six contractors. Councillors described it as as an "essential industry".

- Northern Advocate

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