The proposed expansion of a hard-rock quarry south-east of Melbourne has been met by strong opposition from some locals who say the operation is already having a negative impact on them and the environment.
Giselle Esparon, a resident in Lysterfield for 23 years, said quarry sites there had “already destroyed enough”.
“I’ve already got cracks in my house,” she said.
There are two adjoining hard-rock quarries in the Lysterfield-Rowville area; one is operated by Hanson and the other by Boral.
Both supply hard rock and aggregate material used for roads, construction and infrastructure projects.
Hanson has an application before Earth Resources Regulation (ERR) to expand the extraction limits of its quarry on Wellington Road and increase the depth by 15 metres.
“This would extend the operating life of the quarry by five to 10 years, with potential cessation of quarrying activities in 25 to 30 years,” according to the Knox City Council website.
EPA guidelines recommend 500 metres of separation for quarries where blasting occurs, however individual site and environmental conditions mean “in some instances, the appropriate separation distance may vary”.
If the expansion is approved, the Hanson quarry would be 400 metres from houses.
Ms Esparon lives around one kilometre from the site.
“We are impacted by dust and we get noise pollution from weekly blasting,” she said.
The quarry is allowed to operate between 6:00am and 6:00pm Monday to Saturday; a secondary crushing plant can continue until 10:00pm.
Ms Esparon, however, said she regularly saw trucks entering quarry sites at 5:30am.
In response to concerns, Hanson said in a statement that it had “installed signage and a security guard to prevent any drivers breaching the 6:00am no-entry requirement”.
“However, ERR has permitted essential plant maintenance to be conducted outside of quarry operation hours.”
Last year, ERR received 239 complaints about the Lysterfield-Rowville quarries – primarily about blasting noise and vibration.
“When they blast, there is a tremor that starts at the front of the house and goes through until the back windows rattle,” Ms Esparon said.
The regulator suggested that more people working from home had led to an increase in complaints because the quarries’ activities were more “noticeable”.
“Our inspectors’ observations indicate that the quarry has been complying with noise and blasting vibration requirements,” ERR executive director Anthony Hurst said.
“The Hanson Lysterfield quarry is required to control dust, with monitoring showing standards are being met.”
Hanson said all its Victorian quarries operated according to state government regulation and that regular ERR audits ensured compliance.
“The proximity of the Lysterfield quarry to local projects ensures efficient and cost-effective delivery of product to infrastructure projects, as well as minimising carbon emissions that would result from transporting large volumes of heavy quarry products from more distant and regional quarries,” it said in a statement.
Hanson said the quarry expansion would “support the increasing growth demands of the state of Victoria”.
In the 20 years since the current planning permit was issued, there has been an enormous amount of development in the Rowville area.
“I would like to see operating hours reduced to 7:00am to 4:30pm on weekdays and 7:00am to noon on Saturdays,” Ms Esparon said.
“It is a residential area now.”
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