District councillor Jeff Bland writes about his opinion on quarrying
Recently I received an email, which read “as our elected representative what is your personal view about the quarry that Fulton Hogan wish to establish at the corner of Dawsons and Curraghs Rds, near Templeton?”
Before I share with you my reply I will tell you a little bit about me.
A fair while ago I worked for a large organisation that owned and operated a number of quarries. The stone from these quarries was used in river work and stop bank protection.
I was young and working in this environment was exciting. Quarries were noisy, dusty and dangerous. I loved handling the explosives, operating the drilling rigs and jackhammers.
It was hard dirty work but well paid and rewarding.
The biggest quarry we worked was a huge towering cliff, not benched, nearly 125m in height. It was in a rural farmland environment.
Unfortunately, there was one house located about 200m from the quarry entrance. The owner of this house we will call Mr Smith.
It would be fair to say that Mr Smith hated us quarry workers for very good reason. His home was constantly exposed to the stone dust drifting out of the quarry.
He was tortured by the incessant hammering of the drilling rig and the jack hammers. The noise of trucks grinding their way out to the weighbridge, then to the quarry entrance directly opposite his front gate was relentless.
His children trudging home from school had to walk through the often wet grass, the roads were busy, the trucks large and often overloaded.
If this wasn’t bad enough, after one quarry blast, a piece of granite the size of a football crashed through the roof of his house.
Mr Smith often used to stand opposite the quarry shaking his fist and cursing us.
The boss said to ignore him as he was just a bit nuts. Back then if you stood in the way of progress you were belittled. Mr Smith was just one voice and the quarry owners were many.
The quarry has been closed for many years now. Mr Smith’s house may still have the mismatched sheet of corrugated iron on the roof.
The rivers are confined by the stop banks, the farmers have prospered and everyone has forgotten what happened.
But I haven’t. I see the similarities to the Templeton situation. Small man versus large company shareholders wanting to maximise its profit.
The noise, the dust, the trucks grinding their way from the quarry floor onto roads not designed for their size or weight, kids walking in the grass. The company employees are just doing their job. I accept that we need gravel for roads. It is progress, but progress comes at a cost not usually borne by company shareholders.
Now getting back to my reply. I am of the opinion that quarries must be located well away from existing houses.
In this case, there will no doubt be arguments put forward by those promoting the quarry and those opposing it.
I suspect that this will end up going through a hearing process and a commissioner will be appointed to listen to both arguments. It will be in this forum that the matter will be decided. However, don’t under-estimate the power of public opinion. Those that are worried about the location of this quarry should voice their concern, stand united. Public opinion may well influence the outcome.
Don’t be like Mr Smith, shaking your fist and cursing the workers once the quarry is operating will be pointless.
•This is my opinion only and should not be construed as an opinion of the district council