Environment Waikato and Waipa District Council have granted consents for a sand quarry at Mystery Creek.
Winstone Aggregates had applied for land use and discharge consents to develop a site at 106 Airport Rd, Tamahere to extract and process approximately 1 million cubic metres of sand over 15 to 20 years, depending on market demand. The application attracted 11 submissions to Waipa District Council and 10 to Environment Waikato.
The site is 26 ha of land with direct frontage to SH 21. About 20 ha is mainly flat pastureland currently used for cropping, and the rest is steep gully surrounding Mystery Creek which eventually drains into the Waikato River. The site is prime agricultural land under Waipa District Council plans.
Submitters were concerned about noise, visual effects and movement of dust in high winds, the abrasive nature of the sand and likely damage to plants and plastic, time taken for screen plantings to reach maturity, traffic issues and effects on property values and wildlife.
They were also concerned about the proposed 24 hour operation and the placement of cleanfill.
In making its decision, the Hearing Committee said it was appropriate to provide an increased buffer set back of 20 metres with a neighbouring property, and additional landscaping and planting to reduce visual effects of the initial overburden and cleanfill area.
The District Plan noise levels applied only to airport activities and it was appropriate to recognise the residential uses. Landowners could expect a lower level of noise on Sundays and public holidays. Monitoring and review conditions need to be more stringent to provide certainty to neighbours that issues would be promptly dealt with.
It also considered it appropriate to put a timeframe on completion of rehabilitation after extraction activities had ceased. The Committee said 24 months was sufficient time to complete rehabilitation.
The Committee noted that the hours of operation were flexible, excavation, rehabilitation and stockpiling areas were large and the yearly quantity of sand extracted is not restricted.