Unapproved quarry operating ‘for years’ before DA submitted

Neighbours say the quarry at Koorainghat has grown in size over the last three years, yet approval has never been given for it to operate. Photo: supplied
Neighbours say the quarry at Koorainghat has grown in size over the last three years, yet approval has never been given for it to operate. Photo: supplied

Neighbours of land owned by former Greater Taree City councillor, Harold Cowan, at Koorainghat are concerned that an unapproved quarry has been in operation on Cowan’s land. 

In February 2018 adjoining property owners were notified by MidCoast Council that they had received a development application for the site for a four-lot subdivision, and the creation of a quarry and concrete crushing plant.

Neighbours maintain the quarry had been operating for at least three years prior to the development application being submitted, and possibly longer.

Susanne Devereux, whose house is 175 metres away from the quarry, told the Manning River Times that activity had suddenly ceased last year and she thought the quarry had been closed down, until she received notification of the DA.

“After receiving this notification, I wondered if that quarry had ever been approved,” Ms Devereux said.

“My concern is the way this illegal activity has been allowed for so long. If this quarry develops further it will leave a huge scar in the landscape with pollution and full depletion of all forest species.”

According to MidCoast Council, the only development application submitted for the site was for a dam, which was approved in October 1983.

In late 2016, council received a complaint about operation of the quarry. They inspected the site as a result, and found construction of the dam was being undertaken as a commercial quarry with material being excavated and transported off site and sold.

In May 2017 council issued a Notice of Intention advising to cease all earthworks and extractions from the site. They say the quarry is not operating on this site at the moment.

The DA currently being looked at was received on August 30, 2017. 

This photo, taken by neighbouring landholder Phil Burton, has a timestamp of December 2015.

This photo, taken by neighbouring landholder Phil Burton, has a timestamp of December 2015.

“Preliminary assessment of the application found it to be deficient and we advised the applicant we need more information to be able to notify and assess the application,” a spokesperson for MidCoast Council said.

Additional information was accordingly received from the applicant in January 2018.

Then adjoining property owners were publicly notified and the DA advertised.

“The application is to be renotified and advertised due to advertising on council’s website displaying incorrect dates,” the spokesperson said.

“The assessment is being carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, which includes consideration of all relevant environmental planning instruments and submissions.

“Given the level of interest in this proposal and submissions already received, it is likely that the matter will be presented to a meeting of council for determination. Given the nature and complexities of the issues and potential for other matters to arise during notification and assessment, it is likely that it will be later this year before a report would be ready for consideration by council.”

Nearby property owners are concerned that the dust and noise they say they have been putting up with for years will increase as the DA states that full operation will see 140 movements a day down a dirt road.

Neighbours have complained to the operator about the dust thrown up by the trucks going past their houses, to no avail. Photo: supplied

Neighbours have complained to the operator about the dust thrown up by the trucks going past their houses, to no avail. Photo: supplied