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EPA considers proposal for resumption of Akaroa Quarry, St Helens

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded its assessment of a proposed resumption by Marine and Safety Tasmania (MAST) of extraction at the Akaroa Quarry, St Helens in the Break O’Day municipality.

The proposal by MAST involves the resumption of rock extraction from a disused quarry site at Akaroa within the St Helens Point Conservation Area. It involves the blasting and mechanical extraction of up to maximum of 10,500 cubic metres of rock over a period of 6-8 weeks, and the sorting of rock into various sizes by excavator before being loaded into trucks and transported approximately 3km to the St Helens Training Wall.

The EPA Director, Mr Ford, who made the determination under delegation from the EPA Board, concluded the proposed quarry could be developed and managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner, with certain conditions. He explained that the EPA requires these conditions to be included in any permit subsequently granted by the Break O’Day Council.

The application was referred to the EPA in April 2016, following the receipt of two representations during the 14 day period of public consultation which commenced on 9 April. The issues raised in these representations were blasting impacts, flora and fauna management and weed and diseases.

"Various environmental issues were considered in the assessment, particularly the potential impacts from drilling and blasting, with residents located approximately 300 metres from the blast site," Mr Ford said.

"An investigation has been undertaken by the proponent that demonstrates that these residents will not be impacted significantly by the proposed works," he said.

"Standard blasting and noise management conditions will apply including the notification of residents and monitoring of ground vibrations.

"Flora and fauna conditions have also been considered and conditions imposed to protect threatened flora and vegetation communities located to the north of the quarry area.

"Weed and diseases will be managed through the requirement to prepare and implement an approved management plan," said Mr Ford.

The proposal was considered by the Director in the context of the sustainable development objectives of the Resource Management and Planning System of Tasmania (RMPS), and in the context of the objectives of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control System (EMPCS) established by the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA).

The functions of the EPA are to administer and enforce the provisions of the Act, and in particular to use its best endeavours to protect the environment of Tasmania, and to further the RMPS and EMPCS objectives.

The Director undertook the assessment of the proposal in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Principles defined in Section 74 of the EMPCA.

The Director’s environmental assessment, including the environmental conditions that must be included in any permit, have been forwarded to Break O’Day Council, for review of planning issues prior to making a decision as to whether a permit is to be granted.

The decision by the EPA Director can be viewed on the EPA website at www.epa.tas.gov.au/assessment/completed-assessments