'Extremely significant: Daracon's Martins Creek quarry appeal denied

COSTS: Laden trucks leave Daracon's Martins Creek Quarry. The company's appeal of a landmark court loss has been dismissed.
COSTS: Laden trucks leave Daracon's Martins Creek Quarry. The company's appeal of a landmark court loss has been dismissed.

DARACON has been ordered to pay Dungog Shire Council's court costs after its appeal over a decision on its Martins Creek quarry was dismissed.

The Court of Appeal on Thursday, June 20, dismissed the company's appeal against a mammoth Land and Environment Court decision about the site.

As reported in January, Daracon had lodged an appeal to seek formal approval for quarry operations on the site outside Paterson.

It had since been operating under restrictions including that only 130 laden trucks depart the site daily, capped at 30 per hour.

Last October Justice Simon Molesworth found the quarry was mined significantly beyond a five-hectare footprint approved in 1991 as part of a "transformation" from a railway ballast quarry into an unlawful general quarry and asphalt manufacturing business that began while the State Rail Authority ran the site before its 2012 sale to Daracon.

While the quarry went "well beyond allowed limits" under state entity ownership, Justice Molesworth noted Daracon "decided to push the bounds of what was possible".

In Thursday's decision, the Court of Appeal found the existing use rights related only to the railway ballast quarry land but noted a pending application by Daracon could, if approved, "provide an entirely new and separate authority" for the quarry to operate at its existing site.

Dungog Shire Council mayor Tracy Norman said she welcomed the verdict and the council would work with the company to "regularise" the quarry operations to match its consents.

"This decision is extremely significant for our community, which has been dealing with the environmental and social impacts of these breaches for years," Cr Norman said.

A Daracon spokeswoman said the company was pleased with the court's decision to allow a three-month stay on its orders.

"It will take some time to process and fully understand the detail in the decision," she said. "However, the ruling does allow a clearer path to get on with obtaining new consents for the quarry with the current application to the Department of Planning.

"Gaining certainty for all this parties has been Daracon's ongoing commitment since taking over the operation of the quarry. Daracon will continue to constructively engage with Dungog Council and the community to gain this certainty."

This story 'Extremely significant: Daracon's Martins Creek quarry appeal denied first appeared on Newcastle Herald.