Mangawhai residents are up in arms about a proposed expansion of Lake Road Quarries, saying it will have serious consequences for the natural environment and poses a health and safety risk.
The Lake Road Preservation Society, comprising around 35 neighbours who oppose the expansion, says in 1981 the quarry secured a land use consent for the extraction of 2,000 cubic metres per year and vehicle movements of up to two trucks per day.
However, current production is now up to 60,000 cubic metres per year which, according to legal advice secured by the society, already far exceeds the allowable limit.
They say the proposed expansion to 130,000 cubic metres per year will potentially see more than 200 heavy trucks a day travelling at speed on unsealed, single lane roads – posing a safety risk to residents and visitors to the Te Arai Regional Park.
The society says the expansion will destroy over 2.5 hectares of native bush, detrimentally affect local bird life and other native species, and create an eyesore right at the Te Arai park entrance.
In addition, there are concerns the water run-off from the open cast pit has the potential to further endanger the dotterel and fairy terns nesting at the mouth of Te Arai stream.
Society president Doug Baird says it’s “completely unfathomable” that Auckland Council could allow the quarry not only to operate as it does currently, but potentially expand even further next to a designated area of ‘significant natural beauty’.
He adds that even with quarry production at current levels there are regular accidents due to increased traffic on nearby roads.
“The breaches of the consent for extraction and traffic make the situation untenable,” he says.
Lake road property owner Vince Moores says when he purchased land from the quarry owners, David and Sheryl Pacey, 14 years ago he was led to believe the quarry would remain small-scale and is appalled at its massive expansion.
Our concern is the Council has allowed the quarry to expand even though they are in breach of a legal document. Furthermore, Council has allowed them to expand without consulting the neighbours,” he says.
Back in December, the society applied to the Environment Court for an enforcement order requiring the quarry operator to comply with its land use consent and remedy adverse effects on the environment caused by operations that exceeded the terms of that consent.
However, earlier this month the enforcement proceedings were adjourned after Lake Road Quarries agreed to their expansion plans being publically notified.
Barrister Michael Savage, who represents Lake Road Quarries, says the notification means anyone with concerns about the environment or any other potentially damaging effects of the proposed expansion will be able to have their voice heard.
Meanwhile, Mr Savage denies that Lake Road Quarries is in breach of its existing land use consent, saying the consent does not itself specify the amount of rock to be extracted, though he concedes it is specified in related background documents.
Auckland Council consents manager Anna Wallace says, at the last inspection, the quarry was in general compliance with its issued consents, except for some maintenance work on erosion controls.