Quarry's future in jeopardy

GILL ALCOCK
Last updated 05:00 10/10/2012
Nick Jones
GILL ALCOCK
SATISFIED SUBMITTER: Mudbrick Vineyard co-owner Nick Jones says it’s good news the Waiheke Island quarry has been refused resource consent to expand which could see it close down.

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The future of the quarry is in doubt after an application for resource consent for the continued use and expansion of the existing mining area was refused.

The application was heard at a series of hearings panels in December 2011 and July this year with the decision released on October 3.

The Stoney Ridge quarry operates on land owned by Auckland Council. It inherited the area from Waiheke County Council when the island was incorporated into Auckland.

The council leases the land to Origin Quarries which operates the quarry and subleases the retail area to a franchise of Central Landscapes.

Auckland Council Property Ltd spokesman Peter Burn, who is responsible for the operation of several quarries in the Auckland area including Stoney Ridge, says the quarry and landscape retail area is treated as one enterprise and therefore any decision about the quarry affects the retail business.

The council has a window of 15 working days in which to lodge an appeal.

"We've got to consider how we'll approach that," Mr Burn says.

He says if the resource consent isn't granted the future of the quarry is in jeopardy.

The council will have to barge in material from the mainland if the quarry closes.

"Locals should be concerned. Where will the yard to store metal be? There will be more truck activity and more barging."

Central Landscapes franchise owner Dean Rissetto is disappointed with the decision.

"My concerns are not just my own but for my staff

and for the staff at the quarry.

"If the quarry closes it will put quite a few people out of work." Hearings commissioners, chairwoman Karyn Sinclair, Harry Bhana, Kevin Rolfe and Sheena Tepania made their decision after hearing from a series of speakers on behalf of the applicant Auckland Council and submitters against the resource consent. Those against the consent included Pita Rikys, Lucy Tukua and Robert Enright on behalf of the Ngati Paoa Trust, Ronald Walden and David Halsey.

Stonyridge Vineyard owner Stephen White, Wild on Waiheke co-owner Rob Webb and Mudbrick Vineyard co-owner Nick Jones, who all have land to the east of the quarry, also made submissions against the resource consent.

Auckland Council's application proposes to continue to operate the quarry for the extraction of metal and asks for consent to extend its area.

It admits that aspects of the proposal are retrospective because "at some time in the past" the mining was extended into the adjoining zoned area of "landscape protection" which requires consent as "a non-complying activity".

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No consent has ever been obtained.

The commissioners note that work within a scheduled waahi tapu area is also without the required consent and the retail outlet does not have one either.

Mr Jones applauds the decision.

"It's really good news for the grape growing community and also visually for the island. Plus hopefully our roads will last longer in the future when they start using better metal."

Mr Jones has 16 acres of vines in the lea of Stoney Ridge. He says the expansion of the quarry would have seen the eastern edge of the ridge removed. This would have exposed the area to more winds which would have had the potential to reduce his yield by up to 75 per cent, "especially in an El Nino year".

Mr Webb says the quarry operation is in direct conflict with the surrounding Onetangi Valley tourist and vineyard area.

"This case is not about winning but more about making sensible decisions for the better of the whole of the Waiheke community and I believe the commissioner and her team have made the correct decision," Mr Webb says.

"Maori heritage, tourism, viticulture, the environment and relief from dust and noise for the residents of the Onetangi Valley can only benefit from the decision."

The hearings panel saysthe evidence from Ms Tukua on behalf of Ngati Paoa Trust left it in no doubt the pa is significant and waahi tapu.

"It is difficult to conceive how the quarrying of the pa site could be considered anything other than contrary to the objective to protect the heritage site that is clearly valued by the relevant iwi group," Ms Tukua says.

The panel declined the consent because the adverse effects on the heritage and on the established land uses within the Onetangi Rd valley would be significant.

It also says the quarry operation "did not fall within the ambit of sustainable management of natural and physical resources".

- Waiheke Marketplace

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