By SHELLEY TOPP
Rangiora Racecourse owners have no authority to allow Taggart Earthmoving Ltd to develop a quarry on the site, opponents to the proposal allege.
A spokeswoman for members of the No Rangiora Quarry group, Julie Lamplugh, told a public meeting in Rangiora on Tuesday evening last week that under the Racing Industry Act 2020 the Rangiora Harness Racing Club and the Canterbury Jockey Club had to get written approval for the quarry from the racing codes they are registered with before it could proceed and they had not done that.
“What a farcical situation this is,” she said. “How can you seek a resource consent when you don’t have the authority? And, what is the use of getting a resource consent if you can’t then operate it?”
Julie also asserted under the new rules proposed in the Government’s overhaul of the Resource Management Act and the Waimakariri District Council’s review of its 20-year-old district plan, Taggart’s application for the racecourse quarry would not see the light of day.
“However, timing is everything, and the proposed changes to the Resource Management Act and the Waimakariri District Plan may not come quickly enough,” she said.
Under the council’s proposed district plan, the racecourse will retain a rural zone lassification but any quarries, other than farm quarries, will be specifically identified as an activity requiring resource consent.
The council is also considering further rules, including setbacks from activities sensitive to the potential effects of quarries, which would include houses.
However, it is expected to be about two years before the new district plan becomes operative.
Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey, who chaired Monday’s meeting, said he believed the quarry
would proceed, and that the racecourse owners had let the community down.
‘‘They could stop this today,’’ he said. ‘‘It is not good for the community and I think they
should own it a bit more.
‘‘Taggart is a private company following the law.’’
Rangiora Harness Racing Club president Greg Wright did not attend Monday’s meeting, but
later said that ‘‘Mr Doocey is entitled to his opinion.’’
No Rangiora Quarry group member Mike Dixon told the meeting that the quarry-related
issues of dust, noise and change in character of the surrounding area was a justifiable concern for those living in the affected area.
‘‘However, another issue concerning the location of the proposed quarry within Rangiora’s drinking water protection zones has the potential to affect the entire community,’’ he said.
‘‘We think it is abhorrent that our community drinking water could be put at risk.’’
The early part of the meeting was attended by Waimakariri District Council Mayor Dan Gordon, council resource consent team leader Wendy Harris and planning manager Matt Bacon, plus Environment Canterbury’s principle consents planner, Matt Smith, and northern delivery manager Andrew Arps.
They answered questions and explained the resource consent process, as well as the procedure for the public consents hearing, likely to be held this May at a yet-to-be-decided venue.
Last October, a petition with almost 5000 signatures opposing the quarry was presented to Mr Gordon at a council meeting.
The Rangiora-Ashley Community Board has also opposed the proposal.
‘‘The board is 100 percent behind the community’s views on this proposal,” community board chairman Jim Gerard said.
‘‘We are disappointed that both the Rangiora Racecourse and Taggart Earthmoving think that the middle of the racecourse, so close to residential homes, is an appropriate location for this activity.”
The quarry proposal by Taggart Earthmoving Ltd attracted 404 submissions. Nine of the
submissions were in ‘‘full support’’ of the proposal, according to Mr Bacon, the council’s planning manager.
‘‘Of the remaining submissions, they could be classed on a spectrum of being considered
against the proposal. Some are neutral but seek conditions to be imposed if the quarry is approved and in opposition if they don’t get imposed.
‘‘We try to avoid categorising on the basis of strictly saying ‘for’ or ‘against’ as the content of the submission is the most important bit. But if I was to give a number I would say 390 of the 404 submissions would fall in the ‘oppose’ side of the equation.’’