Please enable Javascript

Bentley is back to fight quarry expansion

Protesters have regrouped after seeing off the gas mining industry - this time it is a fight against a quarry expansion

by Susanna Freymark, 05/07/2021, 2 min read

Main photo of the 2014 Bentley Blockade by David Lowe.

SEVEN years ago the Josephs and other residents fought against coal seam gas mining in the Bentley valley.

It was a turning point in a growing national movement against the expansion of the industry in Australia.

When the movement spread to Bentley from earlier activism at Glenugie and Doubtful Creek, the community far and wide was mobilised to take action and the decision to mine was eventually reversed.

In 2018 Rosemary and Ross Joseph reunited with the group involved in the Bentley Blockade.

This time they were fighting a mega quarry in their backyard.

“What a shame,” Ross Joseph said, “all the people who came to Bentley during the 2014 blockade, we saved Bentley.

“So this guy can build a quarry.”

Members of the renamed Bentley - Our Sustainable Future group know they can “do it again” and stop the expansion of the basalt quarry.

PROTESTING AGAIN: Bentley residents Colin and Joan Thomas, Charles and Leonie Wilkinson, Rosemary and Ross Joseph are against the quarry at Bentley. Photo: Susanna Freymark

Charles Wilkinson said they were concerned about the increased capacity of the quarry site, blasting and a lot more truck traffic from the quarry onto Bentley Rd.

In 2018, the quarry began operating again under “continuing use” rights from 1971.

The group dispute this and have challenged Richmond Valley Council on the legality of the "rights".

“We were told the quarry had continuing use rights and didn’t require a DA,” Mr Wilkinson said.

“We learnt that the decision to approve the operation was based on a 1971 topographic map and two aerial photos dated 1999 and 2009 that show no quarry in operation.”

The quarry is supposed to be restricted to two trucks per week.

“They are operating above their approved quota,” Mr Wilkinson said.

The proposal for 100 truck movements a day is of great concern, he said.

With the Northern Rivers rail trail federally funded to from Casino to Bentley, residents see agritourism as beneficial to them and to keeping the beauty of the valley intact.

The quarry threatens that, they said.

Council general manager Vaughan Macdonald said no development application had been lodged regarding the quarry.

“An application would need to provide information relating to traffic movements and road safety to be assessed on its merits. Until an application is lodged, council is not in a position to consider or assess any limits on activity,” Mr Macdonald said.

“Council has responded to several inquiries from residents regarding the quarry.”

Mr Macdonald confirmed that the quarry sought a future proposal of up to 100 truck movements per day.

“Until a DA is lodged, any increased quarry activity does not have consent,” he said.

“Council has acted on claims from residents that truck movements exceed continuing use rights and we are awaiting a response so that all evidence can be considered.”