Featherston woman Penny Walker is not happy about the Underhill quarry operations close to her home. PHOTO/JOHN LAZO-RON

Regional council accused of ‘passing the buck’
Local fed up with communication

JOHN LAZO-RON
john.lazo-ron@age.co.nz

‘Stones were thrown’ at a heated community meeting in Featherston on Thursday night as residents voiced their disapproval about a quarry on Underhill Rd receiving consent to extract rock.

The meeting – hosted by Wairarapa Future at Anzac Hall – was organised to give residents a chance to address their concerns to representatives from Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Last August, the regional council granted the quarry a 10-year consent after it had received an application by PJ Warren Earthmoving to remove rock from a 32-hectare plot on the town’s outskirts.

Shortly after the consent was granted, PJ Warren then applied to South Wairarapa District Council in October last year for a consent to crush rocks on the site.

The application to the council is on hold after it deemed it needed further information to process it.

The quarry has stirred plenty of controversy of late with matters ranging from health and safety, excessive noise, elements of dust nuisance, and road traffic, bringing much concern to residents close to the site.

Residents weren’t afraid to let the regional council know of these concerns with heads butting regularly on the night.

The regional council’s general manager for environment management, Al Cross, fronted the 90-plus crowd but was met with many heads shaking and questions that couldn’t fully be answered as they were out of the regional body’s jurisdiction.

He regularly mentioned the process now laid with the district council.

District councillors were in attendance but could not address the crowd or comment on the matter due to the application on hold.

Penny Walker, who lives directly opposite to the quarry site, was one of the locals who put her hand up at the meeting.

She told the Times-Age she was fed up with the process and lack of communication between related parties.

“I’m not happy about it,” she said.

“It doesn’t seem to be clear on what’s happening.

Walker said her main quarrel with the quarry came down to issues of safety, noise, and roads being damaged by the trucks.

“Trucks are being loaded about 700m from the end of Algies Rd,” she said.

“I can hear them in my kitchen all the time. I cycled into Featherston, and there were four [trucks] driving up the road within half an hour. I’ve stopped cycling because it is just too rough and no longer safe.

“I’m also sitting there on a nice quiet afternoon just thinking I’ll have a nice cup of tea, then suddenly, bang, bang, bang.

“It’s enough to give you a jump to say, “what was that?”

Earlier in the week, Wairarapa Future alleged the regional council had not consulted with iwi on the entire matter which the regional body immediately knocked back.

Asked on the night if they had consulted with

iwi, Cross said, “yes we did”.

“I’m telling you for a fact we engaged by sending out applications on to iwi.”

Wairarapa Future chair Campbell Moon said he was happy with the turnout but said residents’ concerns weren’t listened to.

“No, they weren’t [listened to],” Moon said.

“[Regional council] have a great problem in ever backtracking on a decision because of loss of face.

“Now, they’re passing the buck on to someone else.”

The quarry would likely be further discussed at the Featherston Community Board meeting at Anzac Hall, 62 Bell St, Featherston on tomorrow, at 7pm.



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