Quary proposal upsets Eyrewell community

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By Shelley Topp

A proposal to develop a quarry near homes on rural land in Eyrewell has upset many in the area.

A large group of Isaac Rd residents packed out the West Eyreton hall last Thursday evening to oppose the proposal at an Oxford-Ohoka Community Board meeting.

Board chairman Doug Nicholl said he had never seen so many people at a community board meeting.

There was also a big Waimakariri District Council (WDC) presence at the meeting Mayor David Ayers, Deputy Mayor Kevin Felstead, who is also a community board member, Simon Markham, a member of the council’s senior management team, and councillors Wendy Doody (also on the community board) and Sandra Stewart all attending.

However Mr Markham told the meeting the council could not comment on the proposal because it had not yet received a resource consent application. He reiterated that on Tuesday morning, saying the resource consent application for the project had not been received by the council and it was not clear when it would be.

The large quarry is being proposed by Christchurch Ready Mix Concrete (CRMC) on 49 hectares of farm land owned by Margaret and Richard Spencer-Bower, owners also of Claxby Farm and Claxby Cottage Farm Stay, a few kilometres away.

Two Isaac Rd residents, Bud Caldwell and Shaun Ryan spoke to the meeting on behalf of the community group. Mr Caldwell said he wanted to know why this particular site had been chosen close to their homes.

“This is not a small to medium quarry. This is a large quarry right on our doorstep” he said. “If this can happen here this can happen anywhere in this community.”

Mr Ryan said the quarry development would have a hugely negative effect on the community.

“Processing of material will occur between 7am and 7pm from Monday to Saturday inclusive, with a consent duration of 20 years sought.”

The proposal had already caused a great deal of worry and stress within the community.

“We continue to be confronted with significant adverse issues such as the Wrights Road Irrigation ponds, our wells are close to running dry and now this,” he said.

The residents have also faced the deforestation of their area, which used to be known as Eyrewell Forest, after a 6700 hectare block of trees was bought by Ngai Tahu in 2000 for dairy conversion.

Mr Ryan said the Eyrewell community of lifestyle properties contributed a significant amount of the council’s rate collection.

“We deserve greater protection from these adverse issues than we are currently receiving from the Waimakariri District Council. The accommodation of business in communities should not come at the expense of the council’s social responsibilities,” he said.

The group wanted the council to insist on “full public notification” for the quarry proposal “so that the effect on amenities of those beyond the immediate neighbouring properties are also heard and considered”.

Grant Edge, a spokesman for lifestyle block residents in Easterbrook Rd where the council recently allowed a large plastics factory to be built without public notification, also spoke at the meeting.

The bigger issue for everyone at the meeting was to look towards achieving a greater level of protection under the district plan for lifestyle communities, he said.

There were 22,000 people living in similar situations throughout Waimakariri.

“We are all susceptible to this kind of activity.”

After the meeting Isaac Rd resident David McMaster said the Spencer-Bowers owned a great deal of land in the area.

They had “plenty of room” to keep the quarry away from the community.

“We are not opposed to quarrying on their land, but not in such close proximity to a well established community,” he said.

“If this is allowed it could create a precedent for other dairy farmers to have a quarry too.”

Mrs Spencer Bower and Brian Grant managing director of CRMC were both asked if they realised their proposal had upset a large group of people in the Eyrewell community. Both said they had no comment.