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A community group has called for a more strategic rail solution for product transportation from Marulan and district’s growing number of quarries.
The issue emerged in the NSW Planning Assessment Commission’s written refusal of Gunlake Quarry’s expansion plans on Friday. The company had proposed running 440 trucks per day on the haul route.
The Commission noted a “lack of emphasis” in strategic policy regarding transport requirements for the shifting of large volumes of quarry product between this region and Sydney.
“(We) consider that there may be opportunities for a coordinated approach to the provision of rail infrastructure in the region that are not currently considered in order to support the quarrying industry into the future,” the Commission’s decision stated.
It urged rail to be considered as a “starting point” when analysing transport options for future projects.
The Towrang Valley Progress Association described it as a “watershed decision” not just for the region but NSW and Australia.
“It is high time government developed firm transport policies for the transport of heavy, bulk construction materials such as quarry product to major city markets,” a spokesman said.
“If government declares the need for quarry product to be of State Significance then surely the State must also ensure that product is moved in the most economically, environmentally and socially responsible means, and that is clearly by rail.
“If this requires additional rail infrastructure then that is a cost that must be borne by those who benefit most from the sale of these products – the quarry companies. Safe, efficient and responsible transport of products must be seen in 2017, unarguably, as “as an unavoidable cost of doing business.”
The Commission referred to a 2016 Transport for NSW study which concluded that rail offered a more “cost effective solution.” Analysis of three major quarries providing aggregate to Sydney showed rail was 30 to 36 per cent cheaper than road.
Holcim, which operates the Lynwood Quarry at Marulan, built a spur line to move 70 per cent of its material to Sydney. Nearby, Boral also utilises rail to move its product. Gunlake ruled out a cooperative arrangement with Holcim on the basis of cost.
Goulburn Mulwaree Council also referred to a “lack of integrated transport planning” for the region’s quarry industry, the Commission’s report stated. The TVPA says with more pressure coming to bear on roads from a growing number of quarries, it’s time for a major State Government review.
“Clearly rail is the only sensible and viable option,” the spokesman said.
This article first appeared on www.goulburnpost.com.au
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