Residents quarrel with quarries as demand drives expansion

New housing, road sealing and new motorways in north Rodney are fuelling demand for raw materials, but a number of rural quarries have fallen foul of residents.

There are at least eight quarries and mines in northern rural Rodney and some are applying for consents for expansion.

Residents on Underwood Road in Port Albert are involved in a dust up with quarry owners Avoca Lime, which is applying to expand its consent to allow 150 trucks a day, up from 60.

Resident Pat Curtis says neighbours’ main concern is that the Avoca trucks refuse to use the northern end of the road, which is sealed, and instead take a shorter route to the south to State Highway 16.

She says the issue began when the small rural quarry, which mined lime for local use, was bought by Whangarei-based Avoca.

“The previous consent was given to Peter Booth and allowed for 60 trucks a day, but he certainly didn’t reach that number. Avoca is a big business using truck and trailers to cart lime to South Auckland,” Pat says.

“They use the consent to the maximum and it coats our houses with dust. The road is used by a school bus and families from JV Grant Road, but at 5.8 metres wide, there’s hardly room to safely pass a truck.”

Neighbours are currently in negotiation with Avoca and have requested its trucks use a northern access point on the quarry’s boundaries to limit use of Underwood Road. However, an agreement has yet to be reached.

A similar dispute is taking place on Lake Road, in Te Arai, where a quarry was sold by the Pacey family to O’Callaghan Holdings.

The aggregate quarry in Te Arai was the subject of a two-week Environment Court hearing in January and a ruling is expected next month.

O’Callaghan Holdings sought to overturn a previous decision by Auckland Council not to allow expansion at the quarry from a take of 60,000 cubic metres to 130,000 cubic metres annually.

Neighbour Vince Moores, of the Lake Road Preservation Society, said his concern was that the expansion would mean up to 100 trucks a day on a narrow, unsealed road.

One argument presented at the hearing was that increased production of aggregate was needed for
sealing Rodney roads.

Auckland Transport spokesperson Mark Hannan acknowledges that the sealing of local roads would benefit from nearby sources of aggregate.

“We support quarries to the extent that we benefit from there being local quarries that produce good quality aggregate. If our suppliers need to buy from further afield, then we will pay more.”

However, Mr Hannan says it is the overall cost and not a shortage of metal that currently hampers sealing of Rodney roads.

“Working on the 650km of remaining unsealed roads in Rodney, at an average cost of $600,000 a km, means that it would cost $390 million.”

According to Auckland Transport’s priority list for roads to be sealed, work has only begun on eight of the 735 roads on the list.

Meanwhile, at Pakiri Beach, McCallum Bros consent to extract sand for use in concrete will expire in May and locals are set to contest it.

A petition to Auckland Council asking it not to renew the consent has so far collected 1735 signatures.

The company was granted permits from the Environment Court in 2006 to extract up to 76,000 cubic metres of sand every year for 14 years.

Friends of Pakiri spokesman Nick Williams says this time residents are going be more savvy about opposing the consent and are collecting donations online to mount their case.