Rolleston residents latest to face quarry expansion in their backyard

A fourth quarry operator has applied for permission to break new ground on the outskirts of Christchurch.
Wheatsheaf Quarry, owned by Winstone Aggregates, has applied to Selwyn District Council for permission to expand its operation at Selwyn Rd near Rolletson by an additional 10 hectares.

It comes after residents of the city's western suburbs raised concerns they were facing 252 hectares of new quarries on their doorstep in 18 months, pending approval from councils and the Environment Court.

They include Fulton Hogans controversial 170-hectare Roydon quarry, which is currently subject to an Environment Court appeal, proposed expansions at a second Fulton Hogan site and a SOL Quarries site, as well as a new quarry application by Maugers Mining.

* Community crushed over decision to approve major new quarry near Christchurch
* Companies urged to fight 'unprecedented' quarry dust monitoring rules
* Templeton residents gear up to fight plans for new quarry

A Winstone Aggregates spokesman said Wheatsheaf plays an important role in providing products for roading, infrastructure and suburban housing growth in the region.

According to a Christchurch City Council document, it is important to have quarries close to cities, as transport costs mean the price of aggregate doubles every 30 kilometres it has to travel.

The operational area evolves over time. We are currently working with the [Selwyn District] Council to consent a small area of land we own which is adjacent to the current quarry, the spokesman said.

As this takes place, we can then rehabilitate and restore previously quarried land.

Yaldhurst and Templeton residents are concerned about four proposed new quarries in their already heavily-mined area.

The spokesman said the company will be working through the councils advice and processes on engaging with stakeholders, both to understand their views and communicate how they operate within consent conditions.

This includes suppressing dust using a number of methods such as rehabilitation of previously quarried areas, regular use of the water cart, minimising and stabilising open areas and active dust monitoring.

West Christchurch residents have previously raised concerns about how close quarrying operations are allowed to be to their homes, with some fearing crystalline silica in the quarry dust could give them silicosis, a fatal disease.

John Kirk-Anderson/Stuff
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink says proximity to housing can increase the risk of residents suffering respiratory conditions.

While the risk of silicosis is generally considered low, Canterbury District Health Board medical officer of health Ramon Pink said crystalline silica is just one component of quarry dust.

Quarry operators have varying levels of on-site management to reduce dust generation. Poor on-site management and close proximity to housing can increase the risk to residents of general respiratory conditions resulting from dust exposure.

The evidence does not suggest that severe health issues are likely, however, continued irritation of the airways and exacerbation of existing respiratory conditions are both possible.

Canterbury DHB recommends setbacks of 250m for extraction activities and 500m for higher risk activities.

The health and wellbeing of residents living in close proximity to quarries has always been taken seriously by Canterbury DHB.

We have made several recommendations, submitted on resource consent applications and made public statements highlighting the risk from exposure to quarry dust and recommended better management practices and increased setbacks between quarries and housing.

Christchurch is unusual in allowing quarries to exist so to close homes.

Another quarry run by Winstone Aggregates was given permission in 2015 to expand onto rural-zoned land, putting it within 90 metres of one house and 150m from several others.

One couple would have shared a boundary with the extension, so they moved.

According to the Aggregate and Quarry Association (AQA), Canterbury needs more than 50 hectares of area to be quarried each year to meet demand about five years supply from the new quarries if all are approved.

Forecasts that Greater Christchurchs population could grow to nearly 750,000 people in the next 25 years mean another 62,000 houses will be required, consuming 15 million tonnes of aggregate alone, on top of existing demand, AQA chief executive Wayne Scott said.

Quarry operators also developed a new code of practice to address community concerns over quarrying activities and reassure them that every effort will be made to reduce effects such as noise and dust.


Our Partner