Here in the Selwyn electorate we have major ongoing concerns around the location and operation of quarries. While I understand and agree that we need a secure supply of aggregate for local roading projects and the Christchurch rebuild, we are fortunate to have significant amounts of the resource around us and it is my view that land near residential areas and sensitive businesses is not the right location for quarries.
I have been advocating on behalf of Yaldhurst residents who appear to have been badly affected by silica dust from quarrying activities in their neighbourhood, so I can fully appreciate why Templeton residents are very concerned about the proposal for a quarry to be located on Dawsons Road. While the consent conditions for this sort of activity normally contain requirements around dust mitigation, it seems to me that in practice very little, if any, effective monitoring has in the past occurred to ensure consent conditions are being met and it has taken significant work to get appropriate monitoring of dust levels underway.
It is important to understand that in all cases the decision whether to grant consent for any quarry is one made by the local authority (ie the Council) and not by the Government. Given that, as the local MP I don’t control, or have a say, in these decisions. I firmly believe, however, that such consents should always be notified so that residents can have their say and I am pleased that Fulton Hogan has indicated that this will be the case for the proposed Dawsons Rd quarry.
I am also concerned that there are not proper minimum setback requirements for quarries in Council plans (which set land use rules for the district). I understand that health and environmental organisations have determined that a setback of up to 500 metres should be maintained from any quarrying related activity to any residential property to minimise related impacts on residents. I agree with this and would like to see quarrying of Greywacke where silica dust is present made a prohibited activity within 500m of residential properties.
I have met with the mayors of both Selwyn District and Christchurch City, and also with ECAN, and have raised my concerns with them about the appropriateness of allowing quarries near people’s homes. In addition to the impact on residents from the dust and heavy truck movements associated with the quarrying, this kind of activity could render land that could be appropriate for future housing developments or commercial purposes unusable for these purposes in the future and so I encourage Councils to consider the optimal long term land use for any site when considering any quarrying application.
While decisions will always remain in the control of local councils rather than me as your MP, I can assure you I will continue to make my position clear on behalf of affected local residents and support them in having their concerns on this matter heard.