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December 4, 2022

Mega submission against a mega quarry at Bentley

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Bentley residents and supporters gathered at the Richmond Valley Council offices yesterday with several submissions including a 351-page group submission opposing the quarry. Photo Tree Faerie.

The people of Bentley don’t take things lying down and yesterday members of the Beyond Bentley group arrived on the doorstep of the Richmond Valley Council offices to deliver a 351-page mega submission opposing a ‘mega quarry’.

The submission was prepared by the community group Beyond Bentley – Our Sustainable Future Inc and included input and contributions from group members.

In a multi-pronged approach, Beyond Bentley hopes that Council will carefully consider their submissions.

Late last year the group also commenced proceedings in the NSW Land and Environment Court and the first directions hearing is set for February 11 – where they hope they will be given a date for the hearing to stop the Bentley Quarry from operating on the basis that they believe it is operating unlawfully.

Reasons for opposing the quarry

Bentley resident Charles Wilkinson handed over a huge 351-page group submission with Rosemary Joseph, Col Thomas, Leone Wilkinson, Joan Thomas and Ros Irwin at the RVC office in Casino. Photo Tree Faerie.

The submission gives several reasons for opposing the quarry including that – the approval of this development is not a good planning outcome for the region; The location of the proposed quarry on such a busy and dangerous main road link between Lismore and Kyogle is totally unsuitable, and; the existing operation has been shown to be non-compliant and is involved in legal proceedings to examine its legitimacy.

The group feel that the quarry is a threat to the area as Regionally Significant Farmland, which neighbouring property owners have been developing for over 10 years as sustainable and regenerative agriculture, together with associated low-impact tourist development, including farm tourism and accommodation. They say this will enhance the Casino to Bentley leg of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail, which is a Federal Government funded project and identified by Richmond Valley Council as ‘a critical signature project’.

The submission says that the site location is not recognised as a regionally significant resource (extractive industries) and the land-use conflict is unacceptable to the local community.

They also say the development application is full of inaccuracies, omissions, unverified and speculative statements and this demonstrates a poor level of assessment.

They say the local community will not accept industrialisation, together with all of its associated negative impacts on the beautiful Bentley Valley.

From gas to a quarry, Bentley protectors Craig Armstrong, Leone Wilkinson, Charles Wilkinson, Ross Joseph, Rosemary Joseph, Joan Thomas, Eleida Muniz, Saxon Van Bentley, Sean Rich and Colin Thomas, are still protecting their home. Photo Tree Faerie.

A joint effort

Chairperson of Beyond Bentley, Charles Wilkinson, said the submission represents the efforts of more than 40 local people. ‘Over 40 local people who said “no” to an invasive, destructive, obscene and ill-conceived plan, by a person trying to build an empire at our expense.’

Rosemary Joseph said she was at Casino to join with her fellow community members to show a united ‘Bentley front’ to the RVC. Mrs Joseph says the submission is very comprehensive. ‘We are determined to save our valley from this extractive and destructive industry and the fact that we have so many members in our group who are determined to work so hard is a testament to our love for where we live.

Photo David Lowe.
Bentley valley from the air, 2014, including Camp Liberty.

Development in harmony with the natural environment

‘We are not opposed to development in our valley but we believe that it should be in harmony with the natural environment and already existing and long-standing rural and agricultural livelihoods and way of life within our valley.

‘The proposed massive quarry will totally dominate the area. It will be a case of one industry swamping all others, which is in absolute conflict with every other land use in the valley.’

Though the proposed quarry is in the Richmond Valley Council area, one property straddles the RVC and the Lismore and trucks leaving the quarry only have to travel a few kilometres east before they are on Lismore roads.

Lismore resident Ros Irwin said one of the many reasons she opposes the quarry is the devastating impact of the quarry on Lismore’s section of the Lismore to Kyogle Road. ‘It’s a far longer stretch than that of Richmond Valley Council. Lismore Council wouldn’t receive any funding. Also, one resident is in Lismore LGA whose property is in Bentley. Their futures and current activities would be destroyed.’

Six generations at Bentley

Fifth-generation Bentley resident Craig Armstrong says he is worried about the impact on future generations. ’My boys are sixth generational Armstrongs on the family farm here that was settled around 160 years ago.

’We thought we could rest on our laurels after the historic Bentley Blockade and subsequent PEL buyback. However, another socially and environmentally unethical business has come to this very place to try to force a massive extractive industry onto my family, it’s land and our close-knit, stoic community.

‘We, of course, have collectively formed to take this injustice head-on as we did during the well-won CSG battle. It beggars belief that a business could come to this historically and culturally significant land, after the Bentley Blockade, and attempt to impose such a thing on this still pristine land and its exceptional people.’

Blue Fattoria farm stay. Photo Instagram.

The quarry a contradiction RVC policy

Rosemary Joseph said Richmond Valley Council contradicts its own policy if it accepts an EIS that is incomplete and full of holes.

‘Richmond Valley Council has identified a lack of agri-tourism opportunities in the LGA and there are plans before the Council for this type of enterprise in our valley just opposite the proposed quarry – in fact, Blue Fattoria already has a successfully operating farm stay business and plans to restore the old homestead and to establish glamping cabins on the site of Camp Liberty.

‘How can RVC reconcile these aims to encourage tourism in the LGA with the approval of a huge quarry? It is in total conflict with their stated aims in four of their planning documents, especially Destination North Coast.’

RVC identifies the Casino to Bentley Rail Trail section as a critical catalyst to the economic growth of Casino and yet it will be on about 1.5km from the quarry – the Bentley Precinct (end of the trail) will have camping, picnic facilities, a playground etc. The quarry will have noise, trucks and blasting etc. That’s a real conflict.’

Whose agenda?

Charles Wilkinson said the plan is seemingly supported by a local authority who thinks that it is okay to make deals even before a development application is approved! ‘This is an authority who thinks it is okay to walk over the locals to fulfil its own agenda. What is their agenda? Is it about money or is it about payback because the people of Bentley refused to roll over like dogs and let Metgasco do as they please in this valley?

‘Who knows, but I do know that this does not pass the “sniff test” and it certainly is not justified as the EIS tries to make out.’

 

 


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21 COMMENTS

  1. A great article for a very important region. We can’t keep selling off prime agricultural land for industrialisation especially when this industrialisation affects the ground water. Agriculture & Tourism is an important part of Australia. Alstonville plateau is already going through ground water issues! Learn from mistakes! Don’t let the wealthy dig it up and destroy it with no efforts to restore or take care of it sustainably!

  2. Lismore City and NR generally needs adequate sand & gravel to progress regionally.
    Especially true after the effective permanent closure of Santin and Champions quarries to the south of Lismore recently.
    But NIMBY-ism is something I can understand.

    • The quarry isn’t in Lismore shire so the decision has nothing to do with them, it’s a shame empathy can’t be taught or even explained to some, the mighty $$$ and development at all cost has to end at some point, sticking houses on farming land, damming up land or digging it up for a quarry so more houses can be built ends in a mess like Sydney, it’s an environmental disaster, why repeat it here?

      • We already have to major quarries trucks that service this road. They don’t repair the roads as it’s just another few months before they’re destroyed again. Richmond Valley Council owns the smallest part of Bentley road yet they will receive payment for the roads while Kyogle and Lismore Council get nothing for their road to be destroyed.

      • So all the material will stay in Richmond River Shire.
        I doubt it somehow ‘Dingo’.
        This application has regional implication whether you and the good citizens of Bentley like it or not.
        Every quarry is different in the materiel mined, tonnage quotas and operational rules.

    • We still have Blakebrook Quarry and Grahams quarry at Kyogle and woodburn, Piora Quarry, Cedar point Quarry, Clovass Quarry and Peterson’s Quarry to name a few…

  3. Excellent summary of the objections to the quarry. It is a shame that there will be lots of people affected by increased traffic on already bad roads through Bentley but the impact of this proposal has not been openly disclosed to the people who might one day discover they are now sharing the road with up to 140 extra trucks a day.

  4. Thank you for telling our story Echo. 🙂.
    This is not a case of NIMBYism – we are not against development but surely it has to be in harmony with the area in which it is proposed. This is a farming valley.
    There are numerous quarries in the Region – certainly enough to satisfy demand. And it’s not because of the lack of material that our roads are full of potholes – it’s the lack of financial resources that is the problem

  5. Why dig up the rock you need for your homes and roads close to where it is needed. Dig them up where nobody lives and truck a few million tons long distance. Sorted!

    • That’s exactly the issue… it’s not needed here. We already have Graham’s at Cedar Point, Piora Quarry, clovass quarry, Blakebrook quarry, Graham’s at woodburn, Corndale Quarry and Petersons Quarry. The roads are still the same and houses are still being built.

  6. I honestly take NIMBY-ism as a compliment. We are living in a time where the environment is doing some weird things. Tsunamis nearby to Australia due to volcanic eruptions, crazy fire seasons and floods. When do we stop and realise that we have enough of these quarries to supply the area? Blakebrook quarry is a state significant quarry not even working to capacity that’s only a 13 minute drive from this quarry. You call it NIMBY-ism but we call it common sense. My mother brought me up to finish 1 sandwich before I make another…

    • Echo, Hire Sean to write your articles!

      Though all those disasters are actually the norm in our part of the world. At least for the past 240 years we have been recording them. I was in Townsville in 2016 and there was an earthquake. The locals said that happens sometimes. Same thing happened to me in Mitchel. Who know right?

      If you have too many quarries…Dam them….cause your short of water. 😉

      • Now add global warming and sea level rises to the mix. We need to learn from our mistakes and do better for the environment. There are already plenty enough quarries in the area not even working anywhere near their capacity. Farmers on the other hand struggle regularly. We don’t want an industrialised valley here.

    • NIMBY-ism ((= not in my back yard) can be defined as local opposition to a valid community need or purpose.
      Nimbies usually object to a perceived danger to their property-values and local environment, while benefitting from them indirectly as part of the Whole Community.
      [This is for general information only – no claims made that this development application is suitable.]
      So perhaps leave this up to RR Shire & their professional Planners, along with valid protestation and democracy to provide a solution to this thorny problem..

  7. Anyone thinking this development is necessary is mistaken and ill informed. The group submission explains in detail, including local quarry mapping, how this material is already supplied at many positions better located to industry. These existing quarries also have the capacity for increased output and the jobs that go with it eg. Blakebrook, Wallace’s Rock Valley, Piora/Woodview to name a few. RVC has over 50 quarries in its local government area already.

    People should not forget that this “quarry” is at this moment subject to court action in the NSW land and environment court about its unlawful establishment in any capacity. This small farm gravel pit, owned by my family until 2004, had been abandoned at law for 40 years prior to somehow being awarded the privilege of “continued use” rights on the back of falsehoods. This all with no DA, EIS or due diligence. It beggars belief that this massive expansion is being discussed at all.

  8. To build a quarry in the middle of a beautiful valley with 4 residential developments within the 1km buffer zone you must have good justification, a solid impact assessment and it be in the public interest. This has none of these! It’s just one bloke determined to fill his pockets full of gold at everybody else’s expense!

    • How is this massive expansion even being suggested with so many residential developments within the necessary regulation buffer zone?

      Why can this family Business come here and not have to be bound by all the laws and regulations the rest of us are bound by? Half of the farms here have a gravel pit. Dose this mean we’re all prospective mega quarry operators now?

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