An application to establish a huge sand quarry near the heart of Tamahere has been labelled selfish, inconsiderate and something which will drive residents crazy.
But on the first day of opposing submissions at Ngaruawahia yesterday into an application by Titoki Sands to operate a 52-hectare quarry processing up to 350,000 cubic metres a year, the heaviest punches were landed by a longstanding resident who argued the proposal simply did not stack up in terms of Waikato District Council’s own policies on protecting high-class soils, reports the Waikato Times.
In a comprehensive submission, horticulturalist Arnold Koppens – who farmed nearby land for 40 years – said the land was high quality, and in keeping with district council policies, must be preserved for future food production.
He urged commissioners David Hill, Michael Savage and Graham Ridley to decline the consent on the grounds it would destroy elite soils, and glaring shortcomings in Titoki restitution plans.
In reply, chairman David Hill acknowledged it was “a critical issue” for the application.
Mr Koppens tabled historic documents which showed Transit New Zealand had rejected sand from the site in the mid 1990s as not being up to necessary standard for motorway construction, and questioned a Titoki statement that this was a “valuable resource and high quality sand”.
Titoki has submitted that it will recreate “elite” soils after sand has been extracted, but Mr Koppens said history showed no land around Tamahere had been able to be returned to its original form, particularly where silts were involved, as was the case with Titoki.
Further, he tabled documents from a 13-year-old Environment Court appeal, in which Titoki’s soil consultant, Gary Orbell, successfully argued on behalf of the council that the soil on a site slightly to the south – and considered less elite than Titoki’s – needed to be protected from subdivision because of its high value as a natural resource.
“It is hoped that the Titoki site will receive equal treatment regarding the protection of high quality soils,” Mr Koppens said.
He saw the application as doing nothing to protect this resource.
“Rather it seems it wants to rip apart some 50 hectares of elite soils, tip it upside down, with no guarantee of success and future generations will have to pick up the tab.
“Soil, and in particular the elite soils of the proposed Titoki sand pit, are the economic treasure of this locality. They should be available not just to this generation, but the generations to come.”
Tamahere resident John West said the quarry would ruin the lifestyle of Tamahere by driving residents crazy with the noise of hundreds of truck movements a day.
Acacia Grove resident Karel Kuper alleged the application was about more than sand.
He saw it as a means to circumvent joint-council Futureproof plans that state there will be no further developments along main roads leading into Waikato towns, and predicted building construction and zoning changes once the sand had been extracted.
Windmill Rd resident James Berkett said safety was the most paramount issue, with enormous concerns about the safety of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians with up to 300 cumbersome trucks a day causing traffic problems, particularly near the Tauwhare Rd quarry entrance on a gully slope.
The hearing continues.