Dungog Shire Council is facing a rising legal bill relating to Martins Creek Quarry’s operations.
In 2015, council went to the Land and Environment Court over the current quarry operations.
Then in September 2016 Buttai Gravel Pty Ltd, part of the Daracon Group, lodged a State Significant Development Application (SSDA) to expand the quarry, which the NSW Department of Planning and Environment will ultimately determine.
The 2016 application is for the quarry to increase its hours of operation, extract up to 1.5 million tonnes of hard rock material a year and clear approximately 36.8 hectares of vegetation.
A report to Dungog Shire Council this week revealed that proceedings to restrain the quarry from operating beyond approved conditions are set down to start in the Land and Environment Court on February 13.
“These matters are separate to the EIS which is seeking approval for regularisation of the existing quarrying operations and a further expansion of the quarry however Council contend they are intrinsically linked and that the proceedings should be heard prior to the Application being determined,” the council report said.
“Dungog Council maintain that since Buttai Gravel commenced operations, the quarry is extracting and processing at significantly higher volumes than allowed for under their development consent and existing use rights.”
Industrial Rental Equipment Pty Ltd and Buttai Gravel filed a motion to adjourn the February hearing date to September, 2017. A number of the Martins Creek Quarry Action Group members and residents were in court on December 9 to hear the council vigorously oppose that motion.
The judge is expected to make a decision this week as to when the hearing will be held. Dealing with this motion has already cost the council $68,394, but some costs may be recoverable.
“If the [adjournment] is granted then effectively all Dungog Shire Council can do is to continue to actively participate in the State Significant Development Application process,” the report said.