AFTER reading the open letter from Bentley Quarry owners Robert and Sarah McKenzie that was printed in this and other newspapers, the Bentley-Our Sustainable Future Community Group felt compelled to reply. Their letter below has been edited for length:
“We are a local community group of residents and friends of Bentley and surrounds, writing ... regarding your current operation and proposed expansion of your quarry at Bentley.
“In 2016, we welcomed you to our community, a community with an interesting history of Disputed Plains, of ... generations of farmers and ... the Bentley Blockade.
“Ours is a peaceful rural community, of families, farmers and friends, nestled together in a picturesque valley of productive farmland.
“To the shock of the local community, you opened a commercial quarry in 2018 ‘out of the blue’, using a small farm quarry which was last used ... 50 years ago...
“Later, you ‘scratched up’ a hole, built your farm road and house pad and then declared in writing that it was, and long had been, a working quarry. You did not submit a development application nor did you receive a letter of approval from the council."
The group’s letter said many Bentley people who had lived there for decades (some were the sixth generation on their land) had no say in the quarry development.
They responded to the facts of the McKenzie’s letter.
“Weathered basalt: Yes, all farms here have it, they do not need yours. As you state, many quarries around in the region, some huge, plenty of present resource without your operation destroying another prime agricultural and agri-tourism area, our valley and our home.
Impacts: You declare to be “listening”, “keen to understand” and desire to“minimise any/all impacts” Our community and your neighbours have already been impacted for four years by noise, vibration, dust and increasingly dangerous traffic conditions caused by the ever-increasing number of trucks on the already dangerous Lismore to Kyogle Rd. Your ‘solution’ to this is to increase it 100-fold.
Size: A Central Queensland open cut mine might dwarf your proposed quarry, but yours is of mega proportions in this small rural valley, nestled between Lismore, Casino and Kyogle, with nature reserves and forestry, ‘smack bang’ on the Rail Trail, soon to be host to cyclists, campers, walkers, cafes, farm stays and other agri-tourism.
In summary, all that you will leave for future generations is a ... 5ha hole in the ground.
Our Bentley community envisions a bright future, a future of environmentally friendly and sustainable developments throughout the valley. This will benefit the whole community and beyond, bringing employment and opportunities. We must preserve our valley and pass it on to the next generation in the beautiful state in which we found it – a valley we have had the good fortune to share and call home.
We vehemently oppose the development of your proposed 300,000 tonne/year extractive operation with all that it entails – 100 truck movements per day, blasting and noise from operating hours of 7 am–6pm Monday to Friday and 7am–2pm on Saturdays."