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Quarry bid was costly

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 07:35 08/11/2012

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Simcox Construction's application to extract more rock from its Omaka Valley quarry cost it about half a million dollars, managing director Ian Simcox says.

The Marlborough District Council hearing in 2010 and the appeal to the Environment Court this year had cost the company about $400,000 in legal and specialist fees. The company also had to buy in extra roading metal for its work in the meantime, Mr Simcox said this week.

He welcomed the court's draft decision to allow the company to increase rock extraction from its Barracks Rd quarry from 5000 to 90,000 tonnes a year, and accepted the ban on trucks going to and from the quarry at weekends to avoid clashes with other users on narrow roads in the valley, including cyclists.

However, he was concerned the consent conditions were unclear on how many truckloads of rock could be carted a day.

They had applied for 34 full loads a day but the decision cut this to 17.

They could work with this if they could average the loads across the week, but not if they were capped at 17 loads a day. He hopes to have this clarified in the final decision.

Simcox operations manager Antony Clark said demand for rock fluctuated so flexibility was essential. For example, more material for foundations was needed in a hurry when Pak 'n Save was building its new supermarket in Blenheim.

Mr Simcox said the council had told contractors on Monday the level of the Wairau and Waihopai rivers was dropping so they had to reduce their gravel extraction allocations. Other sources such as the Omaka quarry would have to be used to meet demand.

If there was a major flood, the full volume might be needed immediately for river protection work.

The council had granted consent for the extra quarry work, but a group of Omaka Valley residents appealed to the Environment Court, mainly because of concerns about more heavy trucks on the narrow roads in the area.

Mr Simcox said not all residents in the valley were opposed to the company's expanded operation.

Three residents had told him they would have supported the application but felt uncomfortable because of people door-knocking and running petitions.

Long-time valley resident Geoff Jensen, of Omaka Springs Estates, told the Express yesterday he was not opposed to the plans.

Mr Clark said Simcox had played a fair game and worked honestly.

"We are not evil contractors but a local company employing up to 55 people, pursuing something it has a right to do in a legitimate way."

The groups involved have until November 21 to appeal or suggest changes to conditions in the Environment Court decision released last week.

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- The Marlborough Express

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