Dear Robert and Sarah McKenzie,
We are a local community group of residents and friends of Bentley and surrounds, writing an open letter to you regarding your current operation and proposed expansion of your quarry at Bentley.
You recently stated, ‘We’re listening…’ (Echo 31/5/21).
We would welcome you to hear us!
In 2016, we welcomed you to our community, a community with an interesting history of ‘Disputed Plains’, of long-standing generations of farmers and more recently the ‘Bentley Blockade’.
Ours is a peaceful rural community, of families, farmers and friends, nestled together in a picturesque valley of productive farmland.
As a community we offered friendship, we rang you, popped in to introduce ourselves and reached out via notes in your letterbox. You did not reciprocate!
Instead, to the shock of the local community, you opened a commercial quarry in 2018 ‘out of the blue’, using a small farm quarry that was last used in 1971, 50 years ago, when reconditioning Bentley Road.
Later, you ‘scratched up’ a hole, built your farm road and house pad and then declared in writing that it was, and long had been, a working quarry. You did not submit a development application nor did you receive a letter of approval from the council.
Local Bentley people, most of whom have lived here for many decades (indeed some are now sixth generations on this land), had no choice – no say in it at all. ‘Your’ new
community watched on in dismay!
You and your family made the choice to move to Bentley, start a quarry and live right near it – it was YOUR choice! We, the community, were simply forced to accept it as a “fait accompli”!
In March 2021 you paid a messenger to privately contact 3 local persons under the guise of ‘community engagement’. A phone call, Robbie, is always nice between neighbours!
In May 2021 you spoke of ‘the facts’ in an Echo article to which, as an impacted community, we now respond.
• Weathered basalt – Yes, all farms here have it, they do not need yours. As you state, many quarries around in the region, some huge, plenty of present resource without your operation destroying another prime agricultural and agri-tourism area, our valley and our home!
• Impacts – You declare to be “listening”, “keen to understand” and desire to “minimise any/all impacts” ! Our community and your neighbours have already been impacted for 4 years by noise, vibration, dust and increasingly dangerous traffic conditions caused by the ever-increasing number of trucks on the already dangerous Lismore to Kyogle road. Your ‘solution’ to this is to increase it by 100 fold and ‘sterilise’ the useability of surrounding lands in the valley!
• Size – A Central QLD open cut mine might dwarf your proposed quarry, but yours is of MEGA proportions in this small rural valley, nestled between Lismore, Casino and Kyogle, with nature reserves and forestry, ‘smack bang’ on the Rail Trail, soon to be host to cyclists, campers, walkers, cafes, farm stays and other agri-tourism, all bringing plentiful employment and development opportunities for the WHOLE community.
All this will also significantly contribute to the Kyogle, Lismore and Casino economies! (NB: MEGA – adjective: very large; huge; Source- “Oxford Languages”). Your development is SO large, it has been identified as an ‘Integrated and Designated Development’! It is SO big that it will need approval by the NSW State Government’s Joint Regional Planning Panel.
• Noise – you will CRUSH concrete, BLAST the valley wall to the depth of a 10-storey building and use a SHAKER to sift gravel to necessitate 100 TRUCKS MOVEMENTS PER DAY and yet you suggest to the community it won’t be impacted by NOISE, DUST, VIBRATION!
You have inflicted years of noise, vibration and dust already on the community and you propose to increase it by 100 FOLD!
• Beautiful Bentley! – You say you love the area as much as we do but to date you have not operated in any way to reflect care for the valley or consideration of its community! Over the past 4 years you have NOT adequately used sprinklers for dust control, have NOT made attempts to create vegetated bunds, have NOT shown courtesy by restricting operations to reasonable working hours/days, have NOT adhered to present ‘approval’ conditions and extraction limits, as advised to us in writing by Richmond Valley Council in 2018.
In summary, your own published words say it all, “LOOKING TO CAPITALISE”……you are looking to capitalise on an asset from the earth, for the benefit of a limited few, to the detriment of the wider community.
You propose ONE mega industrial development that will unavoidably overwhelm numerous other businesses and activities, all of which are in keeping with our valley’s existing local amenity.
All that you will leave for future generations is a huge hole in the ground, 12.5 acres (5 hectares) in size, which will be there forever!
Our Bentley community envisions a very bright future, a future of environmentally-friendly and sustainable developments throughout the valley. This will benefit the WHOLE community and beyond, bringing employment and opportunities to all.
We must preserve our valley and pass it on to the next generation of residents in the beautiful state in which we found it – a valley we have had the good fortune to share and call HOME!
Our wish is also to uphold the Bentley community’s right to live safely, happily and in harmony with each other and with this beautiful rural landscape. We believe in a future where residents living in the tranquil rural Bentley Valley can live and enjoy the natural beauty in vibrant productive communities without the threat of an incompatible large scale extractive industry development in its midst.
We, the Bentley community, vehemently oppose the development of your proposed 300,000 tonne/year extractive operation with all that it entails – 100 truck movements per day, blasting and noise from operating hours of 7 am – 6pm Monday to Friday and 7 am – 2pm on Saturdays!
Leone Wilkinson on behalf of Bentley – Our Sustainable Future Community Group.