Mayoral Update

Mayor Tracy Norman

Martins Creek Quarry Update
An appeal against the Land and Environment Court judgement on the lawfulness of the Martins Creek Quarry operations, lodged by quarry operators, has been set down for May 6-8, 2019, in the NSW Court of Appeal.

Council has been in negotiation with the quarry operators, and has reached an interim agreement with them about the day to day operation of the quarry until the appeal is determined. Previous interim measures were determined by the Land and Environment Court, without Council input, and we didn’t think the measures offered a strong enough protection for the residents of Paterson, Martins Creek and surrounding areas.

The new Interim Environmental Management Plan (IEMP) has been agreed to by both parties and accepted by the Land and Environment Court. This new IEMP is more stringent and better protects community interests than the previous one. I would like to thank the quarry operators for their willing participation in this process.

The provisions of the interim plan include the following:

  • Limitation on the dispatch of Quarry Product to 75,000 tonnes for any two month period of the stay;
  • No more than 90 laden trucks will be dispatched from the Quarry in one calendar day;
  • No more than 20 laden trucks will be dispatched from the Quarry in any 1 hour period;
  • No transporting of material will be permitted on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays;
  • The Quarry will operate in accordance with the following hours:
    • Operations carried out on Lot 5 and Lot 6 DP 242210: 7am - 5pm Monday to Friday, with no operations allowed on Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays;
    • Operations carried out on Lot 1 DP 1006375 and Lot 1 DP 204377 6am - 6pm Monday to Friday,  with no operations allowed on Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays;
    • Train loading and dispatch: 6am to 6pm; and
    • Truck loading not to commence before 7am.

A full copy of the Court order is available at https://www.dungog.nsw.gov.au/news/martins-creek-quarry-consent-orders

Special Rates Variation (SRV) Application to Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART)  Council has submitted its SRV application to IPART. This application is available to view and to make a submission on. For details, please see the IPART website at: https://www.ipart.nsw.gov.au/Home/Industries/Local-Government/Reviews/Special-Variations-Minimum-Rates/Special-Variations-Minimum-Rates-2019-20?qDh=2.

Submissions on this proposal will be accepted by IPART until 14 March 2019. Council has received some correspondence on the SRV since we sent out a letter to rate-payers. Please note that Council resolved to make the application to IPART at the December Ordinary Meeting. To comment on the SRV now that the application has been submitted, is by way of a submission direct to IPART.

Visit from Scot MacDonald
Dungog Shire Council General Manager (GM), Coralie Nichols, and I met with Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald last week. We were also joined by Dungog Shire Chamber of Commerce President, Jenny Lewis. Scot is doing a bit of a farewell tour of the Hunter Region, as he leaves Parliament on 1 March 2019. Scot has been a great friend of and a pro-active advocate for Dungog Shire. I wish him all the very best for wherever the future takes him.

Workshops
I am pleased to advise that the GM has received a number of registrations for the proposed workshops to plan in the first instance, for the future of Dowling St and, then more broadly for the Dungog township (I raised this last week when I let you know about the State Government’s requirement for Local Strategic Planning Statements). The dates of these workshops will be provided to those that register. To register your interest in attending the workshops, please contact Council at shirecouncil@dungog.nsw.gov.au, or phone 49957777.

Hunter Joint Organisation (JO) Strategic Workshop
The Mayors and GMs/CEOs of the 10 Hunter Councils will meet this week to determine our policy and advocacy agenda for the coming year and our longer term strategies. The work we did last year showed many commonalities between the priorities of the various councils, such as connectivity, both digital and transport links (particularly rail and road), a need for greater access to education opportunities and allied health services and climate readiness and disaster resilience. The population of our combined Hunter region is around 730 thousand people, which makes a loud voice in Macquarie St and Canberra. So it makes sense that we expand on our common issues and advocate as one on these issues.

New Dungog SES Unit Commander
The GM and I will meet with Dungog SES Unit Commander, Michael Wilson, along with his new zoning commander. We will discuss how we can best work together, particularly in times of emergency, such as storms and floods, when the SES is the lead organisation. Michael is also looking at strategies to recruit new volunteers into the SES.

From the Desk of Michael Johnsen
Local State Member for the Upper Hunter Electorate, Michael Johnsen, this week, encouraged drought-impacted farmers to consider applying for low-interest loans under the NSW Government’s Farm Innovation Fund, following an announcement that the Fund will be boosted to $1 billion. Mr Johnsen made the following comments:
farmers in Upper Hunter will be eligible for low interest loans of up to $1 million to help identify  and address risks to their farming enterprises, improve permanent farm infrastructure, ensure long-term productivity and sustainable land use and prepare for challenging seasonal conditions.

This is a welcome boost from the NSW Government considering the tough year farmers in the seat of Upper Hunter have faced, indeed over an extended period, as in NSW the drought  began in Upper Hunter.
    
 …the NSW Government’s strengthening of its Drought Relief Package will provide urgent support  for those who need it most.


Key changes include:

  • providing an additional $5 million for emergency water supplies to ensure towns have access to safe and reliable water;
  • increasing the amount farmers can claim on Drought Transport Subsidies from $30,000 to $40,000 and;
  • providing an additional $2 million to connect people to support services through the Rural Resilience Program.

Regards Tracy Norman

Dungog Shire Mayor

18 February 2019