Opponents of the Titoki Sands quarry in central Tamahere believe residents disgusted it has got the go ahead will stage a civil disobedience campaign.
Titoki Sands has won resource consents to extract up to 350,000 cubic metres of sand annually in 10 defined stages, from its 71-hectare site on Tauwhare Rd, which in part fronts on to State Highway 1 at Tamahere.
Stockpiles of 60,000cu-m will be permitted, and heavy commercial vehicle movements have been “capped” at 300 a day and 30 an hour, reported the Waikato Times.
That has left Titoki director Mark Eman “comfortable” with consent conditions he believes are “a fair reflection of community concerns” but which closely mirror those suggested by the company at the outset.
The quarry is jointly owned by Mr Eman, Brian Hermann, Darrin Banks, Russell Ferguson and Frank van den Heuvel.
The decision has flabbergasted many residents, who see it as a recipe for disaster.
“It is going to ruin Tamahere as a community,” said long-time resident Arnold Koppens.
“It does nothing for the community, and gives no consideration to the welfare of Tamahere.
“I’m almost speechless. I’m gutted on two counts: the heavy traffic we will get in a dangerous gully [Tauwhare Rd] and the fact the amount of silt in the sandpit means there is no way in God’s green earth they can make good sand out of it.
“Every four minutes a truck and trailer will be grinding its way through Tamahere. Even if they want to go east, they will have to go west on to a roundabout that is already almost impassable at peak hours, to make a U-turn.
“When they start up shop there will be civil disobedience. There will be vehicles out there that will make sure that the traffic jams suddenly become a lot worse.”
John West, a Tamahere Lane resident for 40 years, was equally appalled.
“It means we will have a heavy truck and trailer assaulting our property every four minutes from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday, and 7 to 1pm Saturday.
“I cannot understand how they could allow it on a road already fairly congested.
“In fact I’m amazed. Three people wanted it, and about 250 made submissions against it, representing about 1500 to 2000 Tamahere people who didn’t want it. The wishes of the three were granted.”
John Bennetts said quarry access arrangements were an accident waiting to happen.
“I’m very disappointed,” he said.
“The accessway is right at the bottom of a narrow gully and in winter can be absolutely blanketed with fog. It is a major liability for road safety and very disturbing with the number of schoolkids that use that road.”
The commissioners said that in reaching their decision they had carefully considered the opposition of many submitters in the Tamahere community.
“However we are persuaded that the matters about which they seemed most concerned can be addressed satisfactorily through conditions and that the application should, therefore, be granted.”
Mr Koppens disputed this.
“There are so many consent conditions and they are so complex they are almost unenforceable,” he said.
Before sand extraction begins, Titoki must undertake localised road widening on Tauwhare Rd and undertake entrance improvements.
All heavy vehicles leaving the site will be required to turn left toward the eastern roundabout at the intersection of Tauwhare Rd and the SH1 southbound off-ramp.
Environment Waikato-appointed commissioner Graeme Ridley granted consents relating to concerns about impacts on native fish and bats, dust creation, contamination and depletion of groundwater, contamination of a local stream, and the need to remediate high-quality soils once sand mining had ended.
In his decision, Mr Ridley said: “I am satisfied that Titoki activities will not result in such significant adverse effects that these are unable to be dealt with by way of appropriate conditions.”