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Dept Of Planning web version of Env. Assessment Summary - deceptive version

 

Appendix B

 

 

Note: The following is a cut and paste of the text of a PDF file which was found Jan 26, 27th and 28th at this Dept of Planning website address (following) implying it was deceptively published from early December 2007 or nearly 2 months, ongoing:

 

In particular embedded URL of  summary of the environmental assessment is http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/asp/pdf/06_0104_summary_of_the_ea_for_dop.pdf

 

[Text copy follows verifying text of DOP PDF web version of EA summary]

 

PF Formation

Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

DFA Consultants

 

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation

Project

 

Environmental Assessment

Summary of the Environmental Assessment

 

PF Formation

Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

DFA Consultants Page 1

 

Summary of the Environmental Assessment

Introduction

 

The Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared to accompany a development

application by PF Formation for a change to their operations at the Hitchcock Road site in

Maroota, Baulkham Hills. Although the proposal comprises a number of changes to the

current approval, it is treated as a new development which would supersede it. This would

require the surrender of the existing consent at an agreed time following the receipt of

approval for the present application.

The site is located approximately 50 kilometres to the north-west of the Sydney Central

Business District and about eight kilometres south of Wisemans Ferry. Its location is shown

on Figure 1. The site is included within the Maroota sector of Sydney Regional

Environmental Plan No 9 - Extractive Industry (Number 2). The objective of this plan is to

protect a valuable sand resource in this and other locations.

The site is zoned Rural 1(b) under Baulkham Hills Local Environmental Plan 2005. Extractive

industry is permitted, with Council consent, within this zone.

The existing sand mining operation is located on a site adjacent to the intersection of Old

Northern Road and Wisemans Ferry Road, Maroota comprising seven separate parcels of

land covering approximately 79 hectares. The proposal would now include 10 parcels

following the addition of three, including the former Maroota Meteorological Reserve site

and its access roads and the removal of Lot 2 Dp555184. The area subject to sand

extraction would now cover an area of approximately 85 hectares which is shown on

Figure 2.

The site is basically triangular in shape with an additional rectangular portion located to

the south east. The distance from the apex of the triangle at the intersection of Wisemans

Ferry Road and Old Northern Road to its most southerly corner is approximately 1,500

metres while the base of the triangle from the junction with Hitchcock Road to its most

easterly corner measures some 1,300 metres.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and Environmental Planning and

Assessment Regulation 2000 control the use and development of land in New South

Wales. The Act establishes the hierarchy of planning instruments that apply to the

proposal.

The Act was amended in August 2005 by the inclusion of Part 3A. The Minister for Planning

is responsible for determining development which has been declared to be major

infrastructure under this part of the Act. The Minister may declare a development to be a

major project if defined in Schedule 1: Major Projects-Classes of Projects in State

Environmental Planning Policy (Major Projects). Group 2.7 in Schedule 1 includes

extractive industries and the Hitchcock Road project meets the criteria for consideration

as a major project under the State Environmental Planning Policy due to its scale and

significance.

The summary provides an overview of the proposal, its benefits and its impacts. It is

designed to provide enough basic information to allow informed comment to be made

without the need to examine the whole document and the associated technical papers.

Maroota

Site

0 30 60 90 kilometres LOCATION OF THE SITE

Figure 1

OLD TELEGRAPH

0 1.0 Kilometres

Scale

THE SITE

Figure 2

ROAD

OLD NORTHERN ROAD

WISEMANS FERRY ROAD

BLAKERS ROAD

HAERSES

ROAD

ROBERTS ROAD

LOT 198

Sydney Regional Environmental Plan 9 area boundary

Hitchcock Road site

PF Formation

Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

DFA Consultants Page 4

The issues addressed in the EA and summarised here are derived from a number of

sources. These include the requirements of the Director General of the Department of

Planning and other relevant authorities, the previous EIS, experience of operating the site

and the Consent Orders of the Land and Environment Court which determine the way in

which the existing operations are conducted.

The authorities raised a comprehensive range of issues with no indication of priorities. As a

result, each has been addressed in the document. Specialist consultants have provided

detailed studies in relation to the following:

geology and resource assessment;

noise;

air quality;

groundwater;

flora and fauna;

traffic and access;

cultural heritage; and

visual impacts.

 

Existing Operations

Sand extraction has been undertaken on part of the site since the mid-1980s based on a

number of Council consents. Following a long series of discussions, an application

covering most of the current site was determined by Baulkham Hills Shire Council by the

granting of consent with conditions on 16 December 1997. The consent excluded an

area located in the centre of the site, then known as the Maroota Trigonometrical

Reserve, and its approach roads. The resulting landform, following completion, would

therefore have comprised two separate extraction zones with a major elevated area

remaining in the centre of the main part of the site plus an additional area to the east.

A third party filed a Class 1 Appeal against the consent in March 1998. This was heard in

the Land and Environment Court in July 1998 and the appeal dismissed.

The extraction has subsequently been operated in compliance with Consent Orders 10064

of 1998 of the Land and Environment Court dated 14 July 1998. These have been

administered by Baulkham Hills Shire Council. The consent orders allow Council to amend

the staging of the development and the depth to which extraction can take place

following application from the proponent. Staging has been amended as a result of site

related factors with the approval of Council but two applications to amend the depth of

extraction in response to continuing groundwater monitoring have not been granted.

Key conditions contained in the consent orders include:

retention of the existing Trigonometrical Reserve and hence sterilising a significant

volume of extractable Tertiary sand;

limitation of the period of extraction to 30 years from July 1998 (the endorsed date of

consent);

PF Formation

Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

DFA Consultants Page 5

restriction of the maximum depth of extraction to 187 metres AHD subject to the

outcomes of the Maroota Groundwater Study;

limitation of annual extraction of Tertiary sand from the site to 400,000 tonnes of

processed material; and

limitation of laden vehicle movements to a combined total of 200 movements per

day via the intersection of the haulage road and Wisemans Ferry Road.

The site is operated in compliance with these and other conditions included in the

consent orders administered by Baulkham Hills Shire Council.

The site is also operated in compliance with the provisions of Environment Protection

Licence 3407 under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 administered

by the Department of Environment and Conservation.

 

Planning Context

The main planning instruments applying to the proposal are Baulkham Hills Local

Environmental Plan 2005, Baulkham Hills Shire Development Control Plan 16 – Extractive

Industries 2004 and Sydney Regional Environmental Plan 9 – Extractive Industry (Number 2)

1994.

The site is included within the area defined for inclusion in Sydney Regional Environmental

Plan 9 which was introduced to assist in the development of extractive resources located

close to the Sydney Metropolitan area. The plan takes precedence over local planning

instruments.

The site is zoned Rural 1(b) under Baulkham Hills Local Environmental Plan 2005. Quarrying

is permissible in this zone with development consent. The proposal described in the EA

generally complies with the requirements of Baulkham Hills Shire Development Control

Plan 16.

 

Relationship between Existing and Proposed Developments

The present application seeks changes of two kinds. First, these would amend the area

over which the activity would be permitted and, second, would change the depth to

which extraction could be undertaken and modify the resulting final landform on

cessation.

The proposal would entail extraction of Tertiary sand and other materials from all the lots

included in the current consent with the addition of Lot 1 DP1013943 (formerly Maroota

Trigonometrical Reserve 6739), adjacent Crown Roads, Lot 2, DP752039 and Lot 1

DP223323 and the removal of Lot 2 DP555184.

It is proposed to use the existing sand slurry transport system, central wash plant and

ancillary facilities such as the workshop, weighbridge and office located on Lot 198

DP752025 in addition to the existing haul roads on site. It is not proposed to increase

output above the limit set out in the existing consent (400,000 tonnes of processed

material per year). As a result, the number of trucks allowed to leave the site via the

weighbridge on Lot 198 each day would not increase over the approved limit (400 truck

movements per day). (No trucks are allowed to convey material from the extraction site

across Wisemans Ferry Road to the central wash plant except in an emergency or when

routine maintenance is taking place). There would therefore be no change in the traffic

impacts on the surrounding road network as a result of the proposal.

PF Formation

Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

DFA Consultants Page 6

Extraction activities on the site including rehabilitation are limited to a period of 30 years

from 14 July 1998 (the endorsed date of consent). It is not proposed to extend this period.

The development application will seek a new approval. This will require the surrender of

the existing consent by the proponent and the compliance of the development with a

new set of approval conditions.

 

The Proposed Development

Development consent is sought for the proposal including:

staged extraction of Tertiary sand, friable sandstone, clay and gravel to within two

metres of the wet weather high groundwater table (nominally 181 metres AHD) with

no extraction within buffer zones and perimeter setbacks as defined in the EA;

loading and transport of the extracted Tertiary sand via articulated vehicles to the

existing sand slurry plant located at the northern end of the site. Other extracted

material would be stockpiled for later reuse as backfill or for transport to the central

wash plant on Lot 198 prior to removal to market;

staged clearance of vegetation within those areas designated for extraction as

defined in the EA;

transport of Tertiary sand as a slurry via the existing pipeline to the central wash plant

on Lot 198;

processing and stockpiling of Tertiary sand at the existing central wash plant in

accordance with the existing consent for this operation which allows such processing

for the life of the extraction on the former Trigonometrical Reserve site;

importation and processing of clean material for recycling up to a maximum of 20

laden trucks per day;

return of wash water via the existing pipeline and disposal of tailings from the

processed Tertiary sand into sedimentation ponds located on the site of the proposal;

transport of the product off-site in accordance with the existing consent;

use of the existing dam on Lot 167 DP752039 to receive and detain runoff from the

extraction area and return clean water to the sand slurry transport system and the

existing dam on Lot 198 to receive and detain runoff from the central wash plant

area; and

rehabilitation of extracted areas on the site of the proposal to create an integrated,

continuous landform across all extracted areas as the basis for productive future use.

 

Extraction Operations

The development would be undertaken in four main stages requiring approximately five

years each to complete. Extraction would continue as currently planned under the

existing consent until a new approval is received. Some of the activities described under

Phase One could be undertaken under the existing consent.

PF Formation

Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

DFA Consultants Page 7

 

Phase One (2006 – 2010)

- continuation of extraction westward from Area B;

- extraction eastward from the haul road (overburden backfilled into Area B);

- construction of Pond 11;

- completion of Pond 9;

- partial rehabilitation of Pond 5;

- continuing extraction of the area adjacent to Old Northern Road;

- extraction on Lot 214 DP752039 and Lot1 DP34599;

- rehabilitation (planting) in the area of former ponds 3, 4 and 6;

 

Phase Two (2011 – 2015)

- extraction southwards from Area A;

- construction of Pond 12;

- extraction on Lot 2 DP570966;

- rehabilitation of area adjacent to Old Northern Road;

- overburden backfilled into extracted areas to the south;

- rehabilitation of Pond 11;

- extraction to the south;

 

Phase Three (2016 – 2020)

- continuation of extraction to the south;

- backfilling of clay overburden into extracted areas to the north and south;

- completion of Pond 13;

- continuation of extraction on Lot 2 DP570966

- rehabilitation of northern section of the northern extraction area;

- rehabilitation of the western part of the southern extraction area.

 

Phase Four (2021 – 2024)

- continuation of extraction southwards;

- backfilling of clay overburden into extraction to the north;

- continuation of extraction in the southern area;

- extraction on Lot 1 DP1013943, Lots 1 and 2 DP1063296 and Lot 2 DP570966;

- construction of Pond 14;

- rehabilitation of southern extraction area;

- rehabilitation of northern extraction area;

- rehabilitation of ponds leaving one to drain each catchment;

- completion of land reformation and landscape planting;

- removal of all fixed infrastructure and formation of final land form.

The overall staging of the development is shown on Figure 3.

 

Processing and Product Transport

All Tertiary sand would be transferred to articulated dump trucks to transport the material

via established on-site haul roads to the existing plant located at the northern end of the

site. Here it would be mixed with water and transported as slurry by pipeline some 1.5

kilometres to the central wash plant located on Lot 198. The wash water would be

returned to the site for settlement in a series of clay lined basins prior to recirculation from

the clean water pond at the lowest point on the system and subsequent reuse.

0 500 Metres

Scale

OVERALL PHASING OF DEVELOPMENT

Figure 3

2010-20

OLD NORTHERN ROAD

WISEMANS FERRY ROAD

HITCHCOCK ROAD

2015-2025

2006-10

2010-15

Tertiary Sand

2006-10

Friable

Sandstone

2007-09

Tertiary Sand

Location of

Slurry Plant

Extraction completed - rehabilitation underway

Areas to be capped and rehabilitated - currently ponds

Area extracted - to be used as detention basin

Areas for future extraction and rehabilitation

Areas currently working / almost completed

Existing internal haul road

Temporary access

Note: Work will continue under current approval

2010

-15

PF Formation

Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

DFA Consultants Page 9

Product is currently trucked from the central plant and all sales are made from the

weighbridge on Lot 198. Trucks leave the site via the access road to Wisemans Ferry Road

turning either left to the intersection with Old Northern Road and right to Dural and Castle

Hill or right along Wisemans Ferry Road to Windsor, Richmond and Penrith. The proportion

of trips on these routes is approximately equal.

It is proposed that sand extracted from the Hitchcock Road site would supply the same

markets as the current operation and the same transport routes would be used. The

number of truck movements would remain within the currently approved limit of a total of

200 laden trucks per day (400 truck movements).

 

Site Services

All necessary site services are available and no augmentation is required.

 

Workforce and Hours of Operation

The current workforce would remain at 20 to 22 staff. Truck drivers, either permanent staff

or contracted or employed by others would pick up loads from the central process plant

on Lot 198.

The hours of operation would be in accordance with those applying to Lot 198 containing

the central process plant and the weighbridge:

05.45 hours Monday to Saturday – gates open to allow entry of vehicles to the site;

06.00 to 07.00 hours Monday to Saturday (excluding public holidays) – 30 truck

movements (15 loaded vehicles) may enter or leave the site;

07.00 to 18.00 hours Monday to Saturday (excluding public holidays) – extraction,

transportation and processing or running of machinery for maintenance purposes

permitted; and

no extraction, transportation or processing on Sundays and public holidays.

 

Life of the Proposal

Extraction rates at the Hitchcock Road site have ranged between 200,000 and 250,000

tonnes per year over the past six years. This is not expected to change although annual

rates may vary from depending on market conditions. Extraction of some 5,335,000

tonnes of material at these rates would require between 21 and 26 years to complete.

This is consistent with the existing consent (30 years from November 1998).

 

Management of Waste

The overall waste management objective is to minimise the generation of waste,

maximise recycling and ensure that wastes are managed in a way that minimises impacts

on the environment.

Trees, shrubs and other plants stripped during site clearing would be reused during

rehabilitation to provide a source of seed, organic matter and refuge for fauna.

All overburden would be used in rehabilitation of the previously extracted area or

adjacent parts of the site. Tailings, the fine clays and silts removed from the sand during

washing would be disposed of in tailings ponds on the site.

General waste would be managed at the workshop and offices on Lot 198 which

provides separate receptacles for paper, aluminium, glass, plastic and general domestic

PF Formation

Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

DFA Consultants Page 10

waste with the recyclables (paper, aluminium, glass and plastic) collected by a licensed

disposal contractor.

Sewage treatment and disposal is provided by an enviro-cycle type plant. It is not

proposed to install any additional office facilities or amenities on the site.

Waste oil and grease is collected and stored in a bunded tank and periodically removed

by a licensed oil recycling contractor. Building waste and putrescible material is also

removed from site on a regular basis and this procedure would continue.

 

Rehabilitation and Final Land Uses

The final landform of the Hitchcock Road site would be influenced by the depth of

extraction, the location of commercially available resource (both Tertiary sand and friable

sandstone) and the volume of overburden, mainly clay, available for re-contouring the

extracted areas. Sand has been extracted from part of the site to the depth allowed in

the existing consent and part of this area has been rehabilitated. These areas will not be

reworked.

Most of the area is expected to be reclaimed to Class 3 agricultural land suitable for

grazing and improvement for pasture. Rehabilitation would comprise the return of the

stored topsoil and the progressive revegetation of the site. Techniques to be used have

been based on several sources: Urban Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook

(Department of Conservation and Land Management 1992); Managing Urban

Stormwater (Landcom 2004); and Best Practice Environmental Management in Mining –

Rehabilitation and Revegetation (Environment Protection Authority 1995).

A comprehensive rehabilitation strategy including a biodiversity offset strategy would be

prepared as part of the revised environmental management plan for the site.

 

Environmental Impacts and Safeguards

Specialist studies were undertaken to assist in the understanding of the environment of the

site and its surroundings which together with the experience of operating the site over the

past six years has enabled the proposed development to be designed to avoid or

minimise undesirable impacts. Potential impacts and proposed or existing safeguards are

summarised in the following sections.

 

Land Use

Land uses in the surrounding area include agriculture, extractive industries, forestry,

national park, nature conservation and water reserve. Agricultural activities include

orchards, market gardens and grazing undertaken mainly on the plateau along the

Maroota ridge.

Sand extraction now constitutes a major land use in the Maroota area with this activity

protected by designation in the Sydney Regional Environmental Plan 9 – Extractive

Industries (Department of Urban Affairs and Planning 1994). Sand mining has been

undertaken in the Maroota area since 1983 and will become a source of increasing

importance as sources in other parts of the metropolitan area reach the end of their

active lives.

The Agricultural Land Classification Atlas (NSW Agriculture 1995) maps the site as Class 3

land. This is well suited to grazing and pasture improvement and may be cropped or

cultivated in rotation with pasture. Soil conservation or drainage works may be required

due to erosion hazard and soil structural breakdown on this class of land.

PF Formation

Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

DFA Consultants Page 11

The majority of the site to be quarried would be rehabilitated with grasses on the flatter

slopes and local native plants on the batters and steeper slopes.

 

Groundwater

Three separate aquifers can be identified, although the extent of their hydrogeological

separation or, conversely, interconnection, is sometimes uncertain. These aquifer units

are:

Maroota sand;

eluvial/weathered profile of the underlying Hawkesbury sandstone; and,

Hawkesbury sandstone.

The more significant of these are the Maroota sand and the deeper Hawkesbury

sandstone.

The following potential impacts of sand extraction have been investigated:

reduced groundwater availability to users;

reduced flow to streams;

increased turbidity in streams; and

lowering of the water table.

None of these are expected to occur as a result of the proposal which is expected to

lead to an increased potential for groundwater recharge to the deep aquifer with benefit

to nearby users. No mitigation measures, in addition to those in place and reported in the

annual management plan, would be necessary.

 

Surface Water

Surface water flows are directed to a number of large detention basins which are part of

the process system employed at the site. These allow the silt in the water, returned from

the wash plant on Lot 198, to settle out before progressing to the clean water basin

located in the lowest part of the site. The clean water is returned from here to the slurry

plant and the central process plant.

The site where sand extraction has taken place to date is inwardly draining due to a

combination of topography and the effect of the peripheral bunds constructed as part of

the project. No surface water is therefore discharged beyond its boundaries. The whole

site can therefore be considered to be a detention basin capable of accommodating far

in excess of the runoff from the 100 year ARI time of concentration event.

The site, including Lot 2 DP555184 can be divided into three catchments. Based on

containing all runoff from the 100 year storm event, the following basins would be required

on completion of the proposal.

Northern catchment 16 hectares 8,600 cubic metres

Southern catchment 52 hectares 24,000 cubic metres

Eastern catchment 29 hectares 12,600 cubic metres

The impact of current operations on catchment flows is minimal and this would be

expected to continue. Surface runoff would only occur during high intensity storms when

the infiltration capacity of the soils is exceeded. The dams and creeks in the vicinity of the

site are known to be groundwater dependent and are not expected to be influenced by

PF Formation

Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

DFA Consultants Page 12

any changes in catchment conditions. In addition, extraction of overburden and the

underlying Tertiary sand is expected to improve groundwater recharge.

That part of the site (most of the eastern catchment) potentially discharging to the

headwaters of Little Cattai Creek makes up less than 0.2 percent of the total catchment

and would therefore not be expected to have any impact on the quality or quantity of

surface water discharged to the Hawkesbury River.

The northern and southern catchments drain to existing detention basins as part of the onsite

surface water management system while the eastern catchment discharges to the

natural drainage system via a large existing dam on Lot 2 DP555184 which is not included

in the proposal.

 

Soils

The soils on site are highly erodible under concentrated flows. Erosion and sediment

controls have therefore been proposed to manage drainage and minimise the area of

soil exposed to surface water flows. Controls would include:

provision of buffers and installation of silt fences where appropriate to prevent

sediment transport to adjoining land;

minimising the area of disturbance by only clearing areas immediately prior to

extraction within each stage and progressive rehabilitation of the completed area;

diversion of upslope drainage away from disturbed areas;

diversion of sediment laden runoff to sediment basins; and

regular inspection and maintenance of sediment controls.

 

Noise

Noise would be generated on those parts of the site where extraction and subsequent

rehabilitation is taking place. This would vary depending on the location of these

activities at any one time. Noise levels would be similar to those currently generated and

would provide the basis for the assessment of future noise levels.

The focus for the noise assessment was the nearest non-project related sensitive receptors

adjacent to the site. These are mainly located on the north-eastern side of Old Northern

Road. All are protected from site generated noise by acoustic mounds and one

residence is at a considerable distance from current operations. Two residences are

located close to the western side of the site: one at the intersection of Hitchcock Road

and Wisemans Ferry Road and one close to the intersection of Old Northern Road and

Wisemans Ferry Road.

The responsibility for the control of noise emissions in NSW is vested in local councils and

the Department of Environment and Conservation. The Environment Protection Authority

(now part of the Department of Environment and Conservation) released an Industrial

Noise Policy in January 2000. This provides a framework and process for deriving noise

criteria for consents and licences that regulate premises scheduled under the Protection

of the Environment Operations Act 1997. The Hitchcock Road site is scheduled under the

Act.

The noise assessment comprised three components:

operational noise impacts at local sensitive receivers in the vicinity of Lot 198;

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Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

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traffic noise impacts resulting from the proposal at locations on Wisemans Ferry Road

and Old Northern Road; and

cumulative noise impacts at various selected locations taking account of the

proposal and other adjacent sand extraction operations.

Each of these assessments was based on operational and traffic scenarios which

represented a worst case condition to provide a comparison with criteria designed to

manage industrial noise emissions.

Noise levels during operation marginally exceed the respective noise criterion at three

locations. These relate to minor exceedances of the night time criterion during the period

from 06.00 to 07.00 hours during periods when particular meteorological conditions were

prevailing (north-west wind or temperature inversion). One receiver is predicted to

experience a minor exceedance (1dBA) during operational hours. However, this is not

likely to occur in practice as the operational scenario tested assumes that all equipment is

working simultaneously. Lower received noise levels would therefore be experienced at

the various assessment locations.

Existing day time traffic noise levels are within the Department of Environment and

Conservation’s recommended assessment criterion of 60 dBA at all assessment locations

and the worst case predicted increases in peak daytime traffic noise levels are 1.2 dBA.

However, existing night time traffic noise levels exceed the recommended assessment

criterion of 55 dBA at five locations. The worst case predicted increase in peak night time

traffic noise levels is 1 dBA.

Cumulative noise emissions for the proposal and adjoining extraction operations during

non-adverse meteorological conditions are below the relevant acceptable amenity

criteria for industrial noise (non-transport related) during daytime and night time periods at

all assessment locations.

 

Air Quality

Dust generation would be the principle air quality issue on the Hitchcock Road site. The

main activities likely to generate dust during the operation of the proposed extraction

areas would include:

topsoil stripping and overburden removal;

ripping and excavation of friable sandstone;

vehicles travelling on unsealed surfaces;

screening of the raw feed material on site or at the wash plant;

loading and unloading the raw feed and products to trucks and stockpiles; and

wind erosion of stockpiles and exposed unpaved areas.

The quantity of dust generated by each activity has been established by reference to

emission factors developed both locally and by the US EPA.

Dust concentrations and deposition rates resulting from extraction operations for existing

and proposed developments at the nearest residential receptor included predictions of:

maximum 24-hour average PM10 concentration;

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annual average PM10 concentration;

annual average Total Suspended Particulate concentration; and

annual average dust deposition.

Predicted emissions are not expected to differ from those currently experienced. Air

quality monitoring undertaken over the past six years has indicated that emissions

generally remain below the annual average dust deposition goal of the Department of

Environment and Conservation of 4g/m2/month. It is unlikely that future emissions would

exceed the applicable air quality goal even in combination with future PM10 and total

suspended particulate concentrations generated by other local operations.

 

Flora and Fauna

A total of four vegetation communities occur on site, including Shale Sandstone Transition

Forest, Sydney Sandstone Gully Forest, Sydney Sandstone Ridgetop Woodland and

regrowth vegetation. Vegetation in the cleared areas is dominated by weeds and is not

considered to be a native community.

The condition of the Shale Sandstone Transition Forest is moderate, while the Sydney

Sandstone Gully Forest and Sydney Sandstone Ridgetop Woodland are in good condition.

The regrowth vegetation areas are also in moderate to poor condition. Two threatened

species of plant, Tetratheca glandulosa and Grevillea parviflora subsp parviflora were

recorded during detailed surveys of the site and potential habitat exists for Pimelea

curviflora subsp curviflora, Caladenia tesselata, Acacia gordonii and Persoonia hirsuta.

The condition of the fauna habitats in the Sydney Sandstone Gully Forest is generally good

while those in the Shale Sandstone Transition Forest and Sydney Sandstone Ridgetop

Woodland are in moderate condition. The regrowth vegetation areas contain fauna

habitats that are in poor condition. The threatened Glossy-black Cockatoo was recorded

on site. However, the species would only use the site as a marginal foraging area and

would not depend on its habitat resources.

Impact assessments as required under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995

and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 were carried out for

the Shale Sandstone Transition Forest Endangered Ecological Community, five threatened

species of plant, microchiropteran bats (as a group) and nocturnal birds (as a group). The

assessments concluded that the proposed sand extraction and rehabilitation was unlikely

to have significant impact on threatened species, population or communities.

Overall, the proposal would result in the clearing of approximately 5.2 hectares of Shale

Sandstone Transition Forest (EEC) and approximately 5.4 hectares of Sydney Sandstone

Ridgetop Woodland with the associated loss of flora and fauna habitats. This is not

considered to be a significant impact on either local or regional ecosystems. Neither

would the proposed extension of sand mining activities at Hitchcock Road be expected

to significantly affect any threatened species, population or community. A biodiversity

offset strategy, based on the principles set out in Appendix 2 of Guidelines for Biodiversity

Certification of Environmental Planning Instruments; Working Draft (Department of

Environment and Climate Change 2007) would be included in a revised Rehabilitation

Plan for the site.

 

Cultural Heritage

No Aboriginal sites were identified during the survey.

One European site was located during the site investigations. This comprised a simple

farm shed which, due to its age, exhibited potential heritage significance. However, this

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does not meet the threshold where it would be considered significant under any of the

criteria established by the NSW Heritage Office. The site does not therefore qualify for any

additional assessment or listing on any local or State registers.

The Maroota Trigonometrical Station is typical of the standard design used throughout

NSW and is very common. It is less than 50 years old and as such is not a heritage item

under the NSW Heritage Act.

 

Traffic and Access

Traffic growth on both Wisemans Ferry Road and Old Northern Road in the vicinity of the

Hitchcock Road site has been slow over the last 15 years and has declined over the last

three years on the former and remained static on the latter. Heavy vehicles, defined as

articulated trucks with three to six axles and B-Doubles similar to those commonly used for

the transport of sand, make up nine percent of the total on Wisemans Ferry Road and

seven percent on Old Northern Road. There is a distinct tidal flow during peak periods on

both these roads with a bias towards northbound traffic in the morning with the reverse

occurring in the evening.

The proposal would not generate more laden trips from the central area on Lot 198 than

at present and would remain within the permitted total of 200 laden trips per day for all PF

Formation operations in Baulkham Hills. Future operations could generate an additional

20 laden truck trips per day if the consent is extended to include the processing of

materials for recycling from sites other than the Hitchcock Road and Lot 198

developments. In addition, the future development of Lot 198 would generate a

maximum of 10 laden trips per day over the period from 2006.

The performance of the local road network and the intersections used by the sitegenerated

traffic has been assessed using growth factors for future traffic. The assessment

indicated that the traffic generated by the proposal would have no significant impacts

on the road network or the performance of the intersections. No changes to these items

are therefore required.

 

Visual Impacts

The proposed development would remove vegetation, topsoil, overburden and the

available Tertiary Sand and friable sandstone resource from defined areas on the site. This

would result in remoulding of the existing landform and, during active extraction, the

exposure of substantial parts of the area. Progressive rehabilitation would return the site to

a vegetated state as quickly as possible.

Visual mitigation measures such as bunds and vegetated setbacks have been

implemented along the periphery of the site and parts of the site where extraction is

complete have been reformed and seeded with local native species.

The proposal would lead to modification of the topography of the site with a lowering of

its central and highest part. This would require removal of the remaining vegetation on

the present skyline which would be replaced during rehabilitation. However, this is only

visible from a small number of locations with public access. These are along Haerses

Road and a short section of Old Northern Road. The former is little used (it is not a through

road) and will soon become part of a recently approved major sand extraction operation

resulting in the elimination of public access. Views from Wisemans Ferry Road are at a

considerable distance, are fragmented and will be interrupted by sand extraction

activities in the foreground.

Views of proposed extraction areas on the Hitchcock Road site from Old Northern Road

would be limited by the topography and existing vegetation which will remain. These

would be reinforced by new bunds included in the proposal which would remove any

views of the works.

PF Formation

Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

DFA Consultants Page 16

 

Hazard

State Environmental Planning Policy 33 – Hazardous and Offensive Development requires

that the safety and pollution impacts of a proposal are addressed at an early stage of the

development application process. The policy provides a procedure which links the

permissibility of the proposal to its safety and pollution control performance.

The application of the screening procedure set out in Applying Sate Environmental

Planning Policy 33 (Department of Urban Affairs and Planning 1994) indicated that as no

hazardous materials as defined by the code were stored on site, the development is not

classified as hazardous and the Environmental Planning Policy does not apply.

 

Socio-economic Effects

The Hitchcock Road development is operated within a Maroota-wide context which

includes a number of other similar sand extraction projects. Together these result in

cumulative impacts relating to the nuisance experienced from traffic, particularly large

trucks passing through a small rural community, dust and, in some cases, noise. A small

number of residents in adjacent properties may also be affected by the direct impacts of

a single extraction operation. In the case of the Hitchcock Road development this is

limited as the majority of adjacent residents are separated from the site by the roads

along its periphery.

Jointly and separately, sand extraction operations inject resources into the local economy

in the form of royalties to the land owners, providing jobs both directly and indirectly and

supporting local services. These are all benefits to the local community. The activities of

the industry are controlled by a wide range of measures which aim to manage the

environment so that all established criteria are met.

 

Cumulative Impacts

There are currently three sand extraction proposals at various stages in the development

process in the Maroota area which could result in cumulative impacts. These are:

Sand extraction on Lots 1 and 2 DP 547255, Old Northern Road, Maroota using the

existing process plant on Lot 196 DP 752025. This development has a life of 18 years

from the date of consent and is currently underway. Production from the existing

quarry and its extension is not to exceed 495,000 tonnes per year.

Sand extraction on Lot 198 DP 752025, Wisemans Ferry Road, Maroota. The

development application supported by an EIS was recently approved by Baulkham

Hills Shire Council. Production would be expected to average 35,000 tonnes per year

over a ten year life.

Sand extraction on Lot 170 DP 664767, Lots A and B DP 407341 and Lots 176 and 177

DP 752039, Haerses Road, Maroota. The development application supported by an

EA was recently approved by the Minister for Planning. The development would have

a life of 25 years with an annual extraction rate of 250,000 tonnes. The proposal would

use empty trucks returning to Lot 196 DP 752025 to transport the extracted material to

the process plant. The annual production rate on Lot 196 would be in accordance

with the approved maximum of 495,000 tonnes per year.

Each of these proposals was assessed in terms of its cumulative impact in relation to

existing and future development in the Maroota area. The existing operations at the

Hitchcock Road site are included in these assessments. As the proposal assessed in this EA

would result in no change to environmental impacts with the exception of changes to the

final topography of the site, any additional cumulative impacts can be considered to be

minimal.

PF Formation

Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

DFA Consultants Page 17

 

Justification of the Proposal

 

Biophysical Impacts

The impacts of the proposal would be similar to those associated with existing extraction

operations with the exception of visual impacts resulting from the changes to the

topography of the site. However, the resulting impacts would be limited as there are

relatively few views of the centre of the site from areas with public access. Overall, the

impacts of the proposal would be minimal with the adoption of the proposed safeguards

and operational procedures.

 

Economic Effects

High quality construction sand is a limited resource in the Sydney region especially when

located relatively close to the main markets. As a number of large sources of supply

become exhausted over the next ten years or are subject to increasingly stringent

environmental controls (Penrith Lakes and Kurnell respectively), a secure supply of Tertiary

sand will become increasingly valuable to the NSW economy. Alternative sources are at

considerably greater distances from the main markets resulting in increased transport

costs and environmental impacts.

The increased volume of material available for extraction as a result of the approval of

the proposal would result in the continuing employment of the 20 to 22 full-time

employees at Maroota. This would offer long term employment security over the next 25

years.

Continuing activity at the Hitchcock Road site would also support employment in the

product transport industry in addition to equipment supply and maintenance.

The development would also make a contribution to economic development in the local

community through the purchase of services and various consumables.

 

Social Impacts

The proposed sand extraction would service the same market as previous operations

undertaken by PF Formation at Maroota, would employ the same number of staff and use

the same fixed and ancillary plant. Negative effects on local employment and the

economy are therefore unlikely.

Socio-economic benefits of the proposal include the continuation of local employment,

continuing supply of high quality sand to the Sydney market and continuing flow-on

effects to the local and regional economy.

 

Sustainability

The precautionary principle has been applied by reliance on comprehensive scientific

data throughout the planning and assessment of the proposal leading to the

identification of mitigation measures and environmental safeguards. Wherever a

potential impact has been identified, mitigation measures have been proposed to

reduce any impacts as far as is practicable.

The proposal would provide access to a large volume of high quality sand, which would

not otherwise be accessible without a major change to environmental impacts at the site

and on the surrounding area. Any substitution of sand from other sources to compensate

for the sterilisation of the material available at Hitchcock Road would result in additional

environmental impacts. The proposal would have long term benefits for future

generations by providing a secure resource close to market with a minimal environmental

impact.

PF Formation

Environmental Assessment

Hitchcock Road Sand Extraction and Rehabilitation Project

DFA Consultants Page 18

The principle of conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity has been

considered throughout the assessment process. Access to a large mass of Tertiary sand

close to the centre of the site will require the removal of a small remnant of

Shale/Sandstone Transition Forest (Ridge Top Open Forest) which is listed as threatened.

Seed has been collected from this community over the past three years and has been

used in the site rehabilitation implemented to date. This process will continue and a large

stock of seed stored for future use. This would be used to recreate, as far as possible, a

similar community to that previously established on the site to ensure that no net loss of

native vegetation occurs.

The value of environmental resources on and adjacent to the site is determined by a

large number of factors. These include the extent of detailed investigations and studies

and planning and design of mitigation measures to prevent any irreparable damage to

these resources. Regular monitoring of the existing development is undertaken on the

Hitchcock Road site and this would continue for the proposed development. The cost of

these activities has been included in the proponent’s assessment of the proposal.

 

Alternatives

The only realistic alternative to the proposal is the continuation of the current consent

which would result in the sterilisation of substantial volumes of extractible sand. As the

proposal would result in minimal environmental impacts on the biophysical and economic

environments, this approach is not considered to be effective or realistic. The proposal

would lead to the removal of a small area of a protected woodland community and an

adjustment to the local topography which would have limited visual impacts. The

removal of the former Trigonometrical Reserve site would have no heritage impacts as the

existing concrete pillar is less than 50 years old and is of a common type.

 

Need for the Proposal

The predicted demand for medium to coarse grained sand of the type available at

Hitchcock Road during the period from 2000 to 2010 is 25.4 million tonnes with a predicted

supply from the region of 22.5 million tonnes over the same period. The potential shortfall

of three million tonnes would need to be satisfied by increasing imports or by increasing

production within the region (Department of Mineral Resources 2001).

 

In the medium term (2010 to 2020) the predicted demand for medium to coarse grained

sand is expected to increase to 30.6 million tonnes. There will be no dominant secure

supply of this material in the Sydney region following the closure of the Penrith Lakes

scheme, expected in 2010. Current sand supplies from Maroota and elsewhere in the

region are approximately 800,000 tonnes per year. The remainder of the annual

requirement of three million tonnes would need to be derived from elsewhere, and, as a

result, sand produced from sources such as Maroota will have an increasing importance

in supplying the Sydney market for construction sand.

 

There is clearly a need for additional sources of medium to coarse grained sand within the

Sydney region in both the short and medium terms. Importation would both increase its

price due to the additional transport costs involved and result in additional environmental

impacts as new sources are exploited. It is therefore important to enable the maximum

available resource to be obtained from existing sources of sand in the Sydney region

while ensuring that appropriate environmental standards are maintained. The new

proposal at Hitchcock Road is seeking to achieve these principle objectives.

 

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