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Planning for aggregates and
Quarry Industry

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Planning for the Aggregate and Quarry Industry

Abstract

The construction of infrastructure and development within urban and rural areas of New Zealand depends on the ability to access, extract, process and transport aggregate (being crushed rock, gravel and sand) from quarries (collectively referred to as ‘quarrying’ in this note). Therefore, it is important aggregate resources are understood and effectively managed, including managing the effects of quarrying on the environment.

The potential effects of quarrying vary according to the type, scale,[V1]  location, receiving environment and distance from the market. The effects produced by quarrying can often be mitigated or remedied but not always avoided. This creates the potential for quarrying to both adversely affect, and be affected by, surrounding land uses.

Regional councils and territorial authorities both play a key role in integrated planning for aggregate resources and managing any adverse environmental effects of quarrying through district and regional plans and the resource consent process.

This guidance note outlines the key matters in planning for quarrying, describes the key effects of quarrying and the methods available to manage these effects under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), including examples of methods in practice.

The focus of this guidance note is on the planning and management of medium- and large-scale quarrying of aggregate from the ground, including river beds and beaches. It does not address small-scale quarrying, dredging, extraction from the coastal marine area below the mean low water springs [V2] or the extraction of other mineral resources such as coal, gold or oil. However, many of the resource management issues and associated management methods for quarrying are generally relevant to other forms of mineral extraction and smaller-scale quarrying activities. 

This note is structured, as follows:

Introduction

This guidance note was initiated by the Aggregate and Quarry Association of New Zealand (AQANZ), in partnership with the Ministry for the Environment and Local Government New Zealand, as a way of promoting best practice to deal with the complex range and scale of resource management issues associated with the aggregate and quarry industry.

The development of this guidance note was initiated with the development of a background paper identifying key resource management issues with quarrying. The main issues included:

  • strategic planning for aggregate resources including the need for, and provision of, aggregate to meet current and future infrastructure and development
  • management of on-site and off-site environmental effects of quarrying, which vary depending on the type of activity, scale of operation, location, receiving environment and distance to market
  • reverse sensitivity pressures on managing the operation and expansion of existing quarries or the establishment of new quarries, in areas where there are conflicts or constraints with adjacent land uses

These issues and others were discussed with local government and industry participants at the ‘Planning for the Aggregate and Quarry Industry Conference’ held in June 2009 and are addressed throughout this guidance note. Other participants involved in the development of this guidance note are acknowledged at the end of this note.

Integrated management approach to planning for quarrying

Both regional councils (s31 of the RMA) and territorial authorities (s31 of the RMA) play a key role under the RMA in planning for aggregate resources and managing the effects of quarrying .

Aggregate resources are limited in quantity, location and availability, with demand and supply of aggregate often crossing regional and territorial council boundaries. Regional councils and territorial authorities should work together to strategically identify the future need for aggregates, their availability, and methods to provide for future access to aggregate resources, while avoiding remedying or mitigating the effects of quarrying.

Councils should be aware of the linkages between RMA documents and between non-RMA plans and strategies when developing an integrated approach to managing quarrying. General methods that can be used to integrate and strategically plan for aggregate resources and manage the effects of quarrying at regional and district levels include:

RMA related

  • Regional Policy Statements (RPS) identify objectives, policies and methods to achieve integrated management of natural and physical resources and infrastructure, that regional and district plans must “give effect to” . This includes aggregate resources and their role in the development and maintenance of infrastructure.
  • Regional Plans identify objectives, policies and rules to achieve the RPS objectives, including those on strategic planning for quarrying and the management of its effects on land, air and water. The regional coastal plan achieves this function for coastal marine areas.
  • District Plans identify objectives, policies, rules and other methods to provide protection, when appropriate, to aggregate resources and avoid, remedy or mitigate any adverse effects of quarrying, through controls on subdivision and land-use activities.
  • A combined plan can be prepared to address access to aggregate if it is a significant issue across regional council/ territorial authority boundaries.
  • Rules, including performance standards, can be used or expressed through zones, buffers or setbacks in plans to identify areas where quarrying activities may be provided for and identify conditions or considerations to manage adverse effects.
  • Resource consents address site-specific environmental effects of quarrying activities through the assessment and use of conditions.
  • Iwi planning documents (including iwi management plans) identify areas which might be sensitive to quarrying activities or associated effects of quarrying, along with expectations for engagement and participation in RMA processes (refer to the Facilitating consultation with tāngata whenua guidance note).
  • Monitoring informs and tracks the performance of policy statements, plans and consent conditions relating to quarrying. This includes identifying the performance of plan provisions or consent conditions and any need for review as a consequence of changes in the demand and supply of aggregate or effects of quarrying on the receiving environment.

Non-RMA related

  • Growth strategies integrate planning for growth within a region/district with the management of aggregate resources, including the management of quarrying effects.
  • Long-term Community Council Plans (LTCCP) prepared under the Local Government Act 2002 could indicate future aggregate needs by listing future infrastructure projects.
  • Regional Land Transport Strategies (RLTS) could identify future aggregate need by listing key roading infrastructure projects, some of which should reflect consistently across LTCCP’s and regional policy statements (see other similar strategies in projecting demand).
  • Quarry Management Plans provide a comprehensive and adaptive plan to manage the environmental effects associated with a specific quarry, including complaints procedures, community consultation, communications protocols, rehabilitation and site completion standards.
  • Guidelines or protocols produced with, or for, the industry to improve the management and processes around quarrying.
  • Land information memorandums (LIMs) can be used to provide clear information on any restrictions applying to a property, such as if it is within a quarry buffer zone or where a no complaint covenant applies to a site and is registered on the title.

Generally, a combination of these methods can be used by councils to achieve integrated management of quarrying.

Planning steps and timeframes for aggregate resources

A number of factors make planning for quarrying challenging. Without effective planning for aggregate resources there is the potential for incompatible activities to limit or prevent access to aggregate resources in the future. However, the need to access aggregate needs to be balanced with the effects of quarrying on the environment and any restrictions imposed on private property rights. This is a key resource allocation issue for councils to consider when reviewing plans and processing resource consents.

How aggregate and quarrying is planned for will vary depending on the needs, pressures and availability of aggregate in an area. Given the finite nature and strategic reliance on aggregate it is important these factors are adequately considered against any likely short-term, intermediate and longer-term changes in demand and supply both within, and adjoining, an area.

A 30 to 50-year planning horizon reflects consistently with other strategic planning processes including LTCCPs, RLTS and growth strategies, however, in Road Metals Company v Christchurch City Council and Canterbury Regional Council, a lead-in time of 50 to 100 years was considered a more appropriate timeframe given the constraints on availability of aggregate within the area and the need for certainty for future infrastructural development.

Effective planning for aggregate resources is an ongoing process and requires a number of basic interrelated components:

Councils should work closely with the aggregate and quarry industry, tāngata whenua and affected landowners to develop a robust approach to manage aggregate resources and the effects of quarrying.

Projecting demand for aggregate resources

Understanding future demand for aggregate in a location will help inform how it is appropriately identified and managed in plans. The scale and detail of this exercise should be fit for purpose.

The need and location of future demand for aggregate can be identified through a range of methods including:

  • Statistics New Zealand’s population and household projections for regions and districts
  • National and Regional Transport Programmes (RTP) which provide details of planned and future road construction (available from regional councils and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA))
  • LTCCPs, RLTS and RTPs which provide details of planned and future infrastructure projects
  • economic strategies which provide details of projected industrial and commercial growth
  • growth strategies and asset management plans which identify infrastructure and areas for future development. These are often supported with more detailed studies which may provide general information about the potential future demand for aggregate resources in the area
  • demand studies which project future demand based on a number of indicators and their relationship with past aggregate supply
  • monitoring data from quarry operators which is either provided voluntarily (through surveys)or through resource consent conditions or by Crown Minerals. This data can show current and past demand for aggregates which can help predict future trends
  • aggregate consumption rates which can help approximate quantities eg, it takes approximately 4000 tonnes of aggregate for each kilometre of sealed road and 250 tonnes to build a new house.

In considering future demand, councils should also take into account the need for, and impact of, the supply and demand of aggregate from adjoining areas.

Identifying aggregate resources

Identifying aggregate resources requires understanding of the location, scale, type and accessibility of the resource. Approaches used to identify aggregate resources vary in their level of detail and scale depending on the needs, pressures and availability of aggregate in an area. A common approach is to identify the aggregate resource in terms of its geological components and scale.

Identification of strategic aggregate resources should also identify other key factors that may affect access, to and viability of, an aggregate resource in relation to its location and surrounding land uses. The use of criteria provides transparency when considering the value and viability of aggregate resources and any subsequent level of protection provided to them and from quarrying them. It is also important to acknowledge that conditions will change over time (ie, new roads, urban growth) and this can also change the viability of the resource.

Information to help identify strategic aggregate resources and constraints can be gained from:

  • geological surveys which can be used as a basis for more detailed exercises 
  • collecting monitoring data from quarries that estimates how much aggregate remains (including consented sites not yet in operation)
  • council planning maps, overlays and schedules
  • transport management plans
  • community consultation exercises
  • relevant studies into cultural and heritage values (including iwi management plans).

Approaches used to help identify aggregate resources include:

Where appropriate, councils should also identify the use of recycled aggregate that is, or is likely to be, available to meet future demand. The use of recycled aggregate is increasing with a number of councils promoting its uses through objectives and policies in plans. Recycled aggregate can help meet future aggregate demand and reduce the need for new aggregate through re-using material that would otherwise be cleanfilled or dumped.

Assessing and providing appropriate access to aggregate resources

Once the demand for, and location of, aggregate resources is understood, then objectives, policies and methods can be developed in plans to provide the appropriate access to them. Appropriate access to both existing and potential areas for future quarrying should be weighed up with Part 2 matters of the RMA, in particular, the adverse effects of quarrying and methods available to manage them.

A s32 assessment is a key requirement throughout the plan-making process. This process will help identify the degree and nature of issues and the effects around aggregate and quarrying in an area and provide a framework from which to consider and test appropriate objectives, policies, and methods in plans (refer to Section 32 – Methods of implementation for further information).

Undertaking an assessment will vary by location and circumstances. However, a number of points that councils should consider in assessing appropriate objectives, policies and methods may include:

  • the extent to which the aggregate resource is known/identified
  • the strategic value of the resource in relation to the demand for aggregate within/outside the region including:
    • the amounts of aggregate needed
    • the timeframe for expected demand
    • the scarcity of the resource and alternative locations
  • the positive benefits of quarrying
  • how well existing quarries fulfil current and future needs versus the need for new sites
  • the nature and density of surrounding land uses
  • the different scale and nature of aggregate resources, the quarrying activity and its potential effects
  • any particularly sensitive land uses (ie,, schools), areas of significant landscape value or areas of importance to iwi and waterways
  • costs of restricting the rights of landowners
  • competing values for a location (refer Winstone Aggregates v Rodney District Council [2009](A054/09)
  • potential loss of high valued land for other activities
  • the proximity of a site or resource to transport networks.

In assessing the appropriate level of access to aggregate resources, councils need to have regard to any sites with existing use rights. It is important to establish baselines for effects as existing quarries can continue with their activities provided the level of effect does not change. Existing use rights need to be considered in developing plan provisions for quarrying and in developing appropriate mechanisms to manage the effects of quarrying.

The assessment may result in the need for more than one approach to manage quarrying in an area. The section 32 report for Proposed Plan Change 7 (now adopted) in the Hurunui District highlights the consideration of a number of the above factors, along with submissions, in developing the approach for quarrying in the district plan.

A range of methods that may inform, develop and deliver a policy framework to provide appropriate access to aggregate resources includes:

See case law for further points on the significance of planning for aggregate resources, existing use rights and reverse sensitivity issues.

Quarry resource management issues, effects and methods

Quarrying can generate a number of on-site and off-site environmental effects through the blasting, excavation, crushing, screening, stockpiling and transport of aggregate.

The degree and nature of effects caused by quarrying varies according to the type of quarry, the scale of operation, methods used to excavate aggregate, the geology of the area, the receiving environment and the surrounding land uses.

Effects are either on site, on neighbouring properties or completely off site, such as the transportation of aggregate. The environmental effects of quarrying primarily include:

  • the disturbance of land and vegetation
  • the disturbance of river beds or coastal marine areas
  • dust
  • vibration
  • noise
  • traffic
  • visual effects
  • impact on cultural and historic heritage values
  • the discharge of contaminants into air, water, land and the coastal marine area.

The effects of quarrying need to be considered when developing appropriate objectives, policies and methods in plans to manage quarrying. Although the effects of quarrying can often be mitigated, they cannot always be avoided.

When establishing parameters around objectives, policies and methods to control the effects of quarrying, it is important to encourage effects to be internalised on site as much as possible. The need to internalise effects in developing objectives, policies and other methods also applies to resource consents, where the onus is on applicants to demonstrate they have internalised the effects of their activities as far as is reasonably practicable (see s17 of the RMA and case law on Winstone Aggregates Limited v Papakura District Council (A096/98)). Only where the internalisation of effects cannot be achieved, and protection is warranted, should off-site mitigation or reverse sensitivity measures be considered (refer to the discussion on buffer zones).

Existing use rights should also be considered when identifying effects and developing appropriate methods to manage them. See more on existing uses in the RMA Enforcement Manual.

The positive benefits of quarrying should be considered alongside any adverse effects. This includes:

  • the contribution to the economic and social development of an area through the provision of raw materials to maintain and enhance community facilities, services and infrastructure such as water treatment plants, hospital’s, schools, airports, new roads, bridges, motorways and new buildings
  • the provision of direct and indirect employment opportunities
  • diversification of the local economy and support of ancillary services such as engineering,  mechanic and construction businesses
  • the reduced social and economic costs of having aggregate resources closer to demand
  • opportunity for the end use of quarries, for example, recreational or habitat opportunities
  • other flow-on regional benefits, including complementary businesses or services.

See further information on the importance of aggregate resources in case law.

Developing objectives and policies to avoid, remedy or mitigate quarrying effects

Councils should assess a variety of matters in developing appropriate objectives, policies and methods to avoid, remedy or mitigate the effects of quarrying.

The approach to managing the effects of quarrying is fairly common across plans. Many plans have objectives and policies that aim to avoid, remedy or mitigate the effects of quarrying. The objectives and policies can be general in nature or tailored specifically to quarrying activities. For example, general objectives and policies could be developed to manage all noise effects, and reference to quarrying may not be explicitly stated. Alternatively, specific objectives and policies particular to quarrying activities could be developed.

A number of plans have objectives and policies that highlight a range of considerations to reflect specific pressures and values within an area. These may include such considerations as the impact on sensitive and incompatible activities, sites of significance to tāngata whenua, natural hazards, amenity values and the end use of a quarry. Objectives and policies are typically implemented through rules that have one or more activity classes (ie, whether it is a permitted, controlled, restricted or discretionary activity). Rules generally include performance standards which establish the appropriate level of effects and matters for consideration when assessing quarrying activities. These might apply to quarrying within a particular zone or area, or across the entire region and/or district.

Policies 13.4.1(1) and (3) of the Auckland Regional Policy Statement identify areas where quarries would:

  • have significant adverse effects on:
    • natural and cultural values
    • the character of coastal wetland lakes and rivers
    • elite land
  • or would exacerbate the effects of natural hazards.

These policies highlight the planning of remedial measures and long-term management of sites help to avoid, remedy, and mitigate the adverse effects of quarrying.

Chapter 14 Disturbance, Deposition and Extraction of the Environment Bay of Plenty’s Regional Coastal Plan provides for sand, shell, shingle and/or mineral extraction within the coastal marine area but only in appropriate locations while avoiding, remedying or mitigating any associated adverse environmental effects. Policies 14.2.3(h)–-(j) allow for a precautionary approach to sand extraction in the coastal marine area. The policies recognise extraction activities as generally inappropriate in the Habitat Preservation Zone and encourage future extraction to occur in less sensitive areas, such as inactive beach.

Objective 18.3.1 and Policy 18.4.1 of the Whangarei District Plan identify the need to avoid, remedy or mitigate to the extent practical, the adverse effects of mineral extraction including noise, dust and air emissions, natural hazards, land subsidence, erosion and sedimentation, traffic, visual impact and hazardous substance storage. The intention is to manage the impact of quarrying on receiving environments vulnerable to such effects. The policy notes that conflicts with other land uses can be minimised by managing the effects of mineral extraction (for example, setting standards for noise and dust). Policy 18.4.3 also addresses the rehabilitation of sites used for mineral exploration and extraction. Rehabilitation of a site following exploration and mining activity helps to minimise potential adverse effects upon the environment (including ongoing visual effects) and to make the land available for other uses.

Objective 1 of the Hurunui District Plan addresses the use of non-renewable resources by maintaining those physical and biological characteristics of the soils of the district that enable them to retain their life-supporting capacity and to sustain plant growth. Policy 1.7 provides for the extraction of land resources in a manner that avoids or mitigates any adverse environmental effects.

Resource consents

Quarry proposals generally trigger the need for resource consents from both regional councils and territorial authorities. It is good practice for councils to work together as appropriate to consider the effects of a proposal in an integrated manner. This approach can be established through pre-application meetings with the relevant councils and then subsequent joint applicatiozn meeting(s), joint hearings (when notified) and the circulation of draft conditions to relevant parties. Councils can also determine not to proceed to notify or hold a hearing of an application under s91 of the RMA if they consider on reasonable grounds that other resource consents are required and need to be made before proceeding, for the purpose of better understanding the nature of the proposal.

When assessing the effects of a quarry application it is often necessary to seek specialised information on the measurement and quantification of effects. When this is the case, useful guidance may be contained in other plan topic guidance notes.

Refer to resource consents for more information on the resource consent process and examples of resource consent conditions relating to quarrying, a number of which have been developed to address specific effects from the above table.

Effects and management methods

The following table outlines the issues/effects associated with quarrying and a number of methods that can be used to avoid, remedy or mitigate them.

Methods relate to the control of the effects of quarrying operations both on and off site. The choice of appropriate method/s will vary depending on circumstances, and include those listed in Assessing and providing appropriate access to aggregate resources.

ISSUE / EFFECT AND METHODS TO MANAGE

METHODS AND EXAMPLES TO ADDRESS EFFECTS

REVERSE SENSITIVITY METHODS AND EXAMPLES[V3] 

Noise

General noise emission standards
Noise standards associated with particular types of activities
Standards associated with buffer zones
Timing restrictions on operations
Quarry management plans
Use of noise barriers such as earth bunds or acoustic fences
Equipment type and insulation

Acoustic insulation of residential dwellings near noise-generating activities
No complaints covenants
Setback requirements

Vibration

General vibration standards
Timing restrictions on operations
Quarry management plans

Applying lower vibration limits to vibration-sensitive receiving structures in adjacent areas
No complaints covenants
Setback requirements

Dust and air quality effects

Performance standards for particulate matter
Assessment criteria to determine dust effects
Permitted activity rule with management methods
Best practicable option
Land-use controls to avoid reverse sensitivity effects from dust
Quarry management plan

 

Earthworks, stockpiling and overburden

Quarry management plan (which often includes an earthworks management plan)
Assigning council responsibility

 

Traffic

General traffic movement standards
Quarry management plan (which often includes a traffic management plan)

Identification of heavy traffic routes from quarries
Acoustic insulation of new residential dwellings located along high noise routes

Water quality and use

Guidelines
Activity performance standards
Quarry management plan

 

Extraction from river beds and the coastal marine area

Integrated gravel extraction studies and reports
Policies on extraction in fluvial areas or coastal environment
Linking extraction with flood management and beach nourishment
Activity performance standards
Assessment criteria
Resource consent conditions and duration
Guidelines

 

Vegetation removal and ecological effects

Activity performance standards
Offsetting
Quarry and landscape management plan

 

Visual effects

General bulk and location standards
Quarry management plan
Progressive restoration and rehabilitation
Use of visual barriers such as earth bunds or solid fences

 

Cultural and historic heritage values

Policies relating to archaeological and wāhi tapu sites
Consultation policies and agreements
Cultural impact assessments and cultural value reports
Quarry management plan

 

Rehabilitation

Quarry management plan
Rehabilitation plan
Bonds

 

Noise issues and effects

Noise is often generated by quarrying through blasting, hydraulic rock breaking, crushing and vehicle movements. This noise has the potential to affect the amenity of surrounding areas. Noise is one of the primary issues leading to reverse sensitivity pressures, where quarries are vulnerable to complaints from nearby residents which may lead to constraints on quarrying activities such as reduced operating hours and blasting event times.

The effects from noise can be managed at either the source or where noise is received. Section 16 of the RMA places a general duty to avoid unreasonable noise, and requires all noise generators to adopt the best practicable option to ensure reasonable levels are not exceeded. This is in addition to the duty to comply with any noise standards in a district plan.

Even when adopting these practices, it may not be possible for quarries to comply with the permitted activity standards for noise. To determine appropriate noise standards for quarrying or for specific quarrying activities it may be necessary for specialist acoustic reports to be commissioned that identify (potential) adverse effects on neighbouring properties and the surrounding environment.

Methods to manage noise

Methods to manage other noise-generating activities could also be used in relation to the quarry industry: for example, those relating to traffic noise. Refer to the noise management in mixed-use urban environments guidance note for more information.

The examples provided below do not use the recently issued New Zealand Standard for Environmental Noise (NZ6802:2008) which provides guidelines on appropriate noise levels for environmental noise. The standard introduces a new standard for measuring noise effects, notably introducing dBLAeq(15) and dBALeq (max) measures which are more stringent than the previous dBA(L10) measure. See article Sounds good – new acoustic standards (NZLGA December 2008) for more information.

General noise emission standards

These may be imposed as an activity performance standard in a district plan zone or as a condition of consent. Noise standards apply to the site from which the noise is being emitted, but are measured at or beyond the boundary of the site, or at the notional boundary of neighbouring dwellings or other noise-sensitive activities. Generally, applying the noise standard at the notional boundary will be the most practical option for monitoring purposes as measuring from neighbouring dwellings will require the consent of third parties, which can cause an issue.

For example, rule 2.4.23 of the Waipa District Plan specifies that all activities within the rural zone shall be conducted so that the noise at the notional boundary of any dwelling does not exceed 50dBA(L10) between the hours of 7am and 8pm and 40dBA(L10) between 8pm to 7am. Mineral extraction activities are given a higher performance standard for noise in the plan during the day of 55dBa(L10). In addition to the general noise standard, the plan states that no single noise level shall exceed 65dBA at night. 

The Quarry Zone of the Papakura District Plan (Section 3 Part 6 rule 6.13.8.1.1(e)) specifies the maximum permitted noise level in L10 as measured at or within 30 metres from any dwelling. However, rules like these can be difficult to monitor on an ongoing basis as they require the consent of third parties and are generally activated in response to a complaint.

Noise standards associated with particular types of activities

These also apply to the site from which the noise is being emitted, but relate to a particular activity such as blasting or traffic movements. The noise levels are also measured at or beyond the boundary of the site, or at the notional boundary of neighbouring dwellings or other noise-sensitive activities.

For example, within the Aggregate Extraction Zone of the Franklin District Plan rule 35.5.8(ii) requires that the noise created by the use of explosives measured at a notional boundary of 20 metres from occupied dwellings shall not exceed a peak overall sound pressure of 128dB. However, controls like these can be difficult to cost-effectively monitor on an ongoing basis, with remedial action largely arising as a response to complaints.

Standards associated with buffer zones

This approach uses buffer zones to set different noise standards around a quarry site. This is a useful approach to take into account background noise levels and the sensitivity of the receiving environment to noise emissions.

For example, within the Mineral Extraction Zone of the Whangarei District Plan (chapter 64) the permitted activity standards for operating noise differ between low noise areas and high noise areas, as measured at the notional boundary of any residential unit not owned or controlled by the quarry owner. The noise areas are determined by the background sound levels.

Proposed Plan Change 24: Pokeno Structure Plan and New Zoning Provisions to the Franklin District Plan also identifies a high background noise area (Map 107) along a major traffic route where the permitted noise level is higher (rule 27A.6.1).  

Timing restrictions on operations

Timing restrictions may be imposed on typical quarry operations such as blasting, vehicle movements and crushing as a condition of consent, and are reasonably easy to monitor. Although time restrictions may be appropriate in many circumstances, it is important to consider the impact this may have on the quarry operation. Often, it will be appropriate to set different time restrictions for quarry operations based on the particular activity and the noise it generates. For example, the timing restrictions on traffic movements may need to be different than restrictions on blasting times.

An example of different time restrictions for quarry activities is within the Aggregate Extraction Zone of the Franklin District Plan. Rule 35.5.8(iii) states all blasting is restricted to between 10:00 and 16:00 hours, Monday to Saturday, except where blasting is necessary for safety reasons. The performance standard for other noise from quarry activities (55dBA at a notional boundary of 20 metres from the site) has a more flexible period of 0700 to 2200, Monday to Saturday. At all other times and on public holidays the noise standard is lower (40dBa).  

Quarry management plans – noise

A quarry management plan (QMP) may outline the number of times per calendar year the quarry may exceed the normal permitted hours of operation, the timing and noise levels of events that occur on the site, and detailed management procedures to help the quarry operator and neighbours deal with excessive noise.

For example, within the Quarry Zone of the Papakura District Plan (Section 3 Part 6 rule 6.13.8.1(1)(d) and (dd)), the operators and owners of each quarry are required to provide a QMP to the council. The quarry management plan submitted to the council must include a description of methods to be employed to comply with the noise and vibration provisions of the district plan.

The Friedlander Road Quarry – Operational Compliance Plan prepared by Perry Resources provides an example of a QMP to ensure operations and environmental risks are managed appropriately and within conditions of consent. The QMP describes the site operations for sand extraction and includes a number of procedures to mitigate noise such as speed restrictions, fitting silencing equipment on machinery and road maintenance.

The Waingaro Road Quarry – Operational Compliance Plan prepared by Perry Resources provides an example of a QMP for a hard rock quarry to ensure operations and environmental risks are managed appropriately and within conditions of consent. It details the site operations, projects and monitoring and contains procedures to manage noise effects from the site, such as fitting machinery with silencing equipment, limiting the hours of operation and notifying neighbours in advance of blasting events.

Use of noise barriers such as earth bunds or solid fences

The use of noise barriers can be applied as a condition of consent or as a standard in a particular zone within a district plan. The effectiveness of noise barriers will depend on what they are constructed of, how they are constructed, and the nature of the noise generated.

The use of natural noise barriers such as earth bunds to reduce noise levels beyond the site can sometimes be better determined and controlled by the quarry operator. In these instances, the council can condition a certain level of noise and allow barriers of a certain height to be constructed on site. These conditions leave meeting the condition and determining the best location for barriers to the operator. This approach is useful as stockpiles and overburden can be used to construct earth bunds to reduce noise levels beyond the site, which is a cost-effective method of construction. This approach also allows earth bunds to be constructed or moved in response to the orientation of the working face of the quarry.

For example, Fulton Hogan have retained an existing hill on the side of their Wairoa quarry to provide a natural visual and noise barrier to the surrounding rural-residential area.

The other option to using stockpiles and overburden from the site is to construct earth bunds or artificial barriers (such as high-walled fences). These can be easier to monitor but can cause other adverse effects, such as visual effects, and may be more costly to construct and maintain.

Equipment type and insulation

There have been, and will continue to be, changes in technology that allow quarry operators to greatly reduce the level of noise emitted from the site. For example, fitting machinery with effective mufflers to lower noise emissions. Industry can be encouraged to use such technology to mitigate effects.

Acoustic insulation of residential dwellings near noise-generating activities

This approach can be used to protect existing quarry operations by requiring new sensitive activities to mitigate the effects from noise. This could be applied either as a consent condition or a standard in a plan where the new residential activities are proposed to be established near an active quarry zone. 

For example, the Hastings District Plan requires residential buildings within any industrial or commercial zone to be acoustically insulated to mitigate the potential noise effects of high background noise levels (rule 14.2.9.4). This could similarly be applied to areas near established quarries.

Rule 16.6.3 (h) of the Proposed Western Bay District Plan identifies that in regard to the front yards adjoining Old Coach Road (between the entrance to Cameron’s Quarry and State Highway 2) councils should have regard to whether any potential for conflict between activities and the use of the road for heavy vehicles can be avoided through the design and construction of buildings to restrict noise levels within any habitable room to a reasonable level.

Proposed Plan Change 24: Pokeno Structure Plan and New Zoning Provisions to the Franklin District Plan identifies a high background noise area(Map 107) along a major traffic route where the permitted noise level is higher. To avoid reverse sensitivity pressures and adverse effects on residential activity, all new residential dwellings must be designed and constructed so that noise levels at night in bedrooms do not exceed 35dBALeq (1hour) (rule 27A.6.1 and rule 29.5.13). These rules require an acoustic report to be provided by an applicant to demonstrate the ability to comply with the standard.

Acoustic insulation can be a condition of a resource consent application or otherwise achieved through a side agreement. Refer to resource consent conditions .

No complaints covenants – noise

See the discussion on no complaint covenants in Assessing and providing appropriate access to aggregate resources.

Setback requirements – noise

Noise effects can also be effectively managed through land-use planning that separates noise-generating and noise-sensitive activities. 

This could be applied as a standard relating to particular zones in close proximity to aggregate extraction areas. For example, in the Waikato District Plan Operative in Part (chapter 27.51), the construction of a dwelling is permitted if it is located at least 200 metres from the boundary of an Aggregate Extraction Policy Area containing a sand resource, and 500 metres from the boundary of an Aggregate Extraction Policy Area containing a rock resource.

Separation by distance could also be included as a general rule requiring minimum setback requirements from established quarries to mitigate the effects from noise. For example, rule 2.4.6(g) of the Waipa District Plan requires that new dwellings should not be constructed closer than 500 metres to a site used for mineral extraction or where a consent has been granted for mineral extraction.

If setback requirements are included in plans, it is important there is flexibility for these to be reduced where good on-site acoustic attenuation is proposed to be installed. In these situations, it may be appropriate to reduce the setback distances if compliance with indoor noise standards can be demonstrated. 

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Vibration issues and effects

There is often a significant amount of vibration generated by standard quarry operations, notably from vehicle movements, blasting and operational machinery. These have the potential to affect the amenity of nearby residents and may result in damage to property. However, there is significant variation in the need to undertake activities that may cause vibration such as blasting. For example, aggregates can be excavated from sand and gravel quarries by digging the relatively loose material, but material from hard rock quarries often requires blasting to loosen the rock so it can be excavated. The effects from vibration will therefore vary with the type and scale of quarry.

As vibration is a potential adverse effect of quarrying, information should be provided to those likely to be affected, regarding blasting methods, controls and practices used by quarry operators to ensure safety. Quarry operators can generally control the effects of vibration from blasting through efficient practices. It is also in the industry’s best interest to undertake limited and targeted blasting due to the cost of explosives and the need to satisfy industry health and safety requirements.

The effects from vibration can be controlled either at the source or where the effects are received. Section 17 of the RMA places a general duty to avoid, remedy or mitigate any adverse effect of the environment from an activity, which includes vibration effects from quarries. This is additional to the duty to comply with the vibration standards included in a plan.

Methods to manage vibration

Methods to manage vibration should take into account the specific type of quarry, industry practices to mitigate the vibration effects from blasting and New Zealand standards for vibration. It may also be useful to set up a protocol with the quarry operator and nearby properties to ensurethe timing and nature of blasting events provides least disturbance to residents while also being workable for the industry. This may include providing advice to nearby property occupants in advance of when blasting will take place (eg, via a letterbox drop). Any conditions to limit traffic movements to reduce vibration should also consider the operational requirements of the quarries. The identification of preferred traffic routes (to and from if applicable) may also be used to mitigate noise effects (also see case law on traffic ).

General vibration standards

These apply to the site from where the vibration is being emitted but should be based on the actual effect measured at, or beyond, the boundary of the site, or at the notional boundary of neighbouring dwellings. Plans and resource consent conditions should also be specific about how the level of vibration will be measured.

For example, within the Aggregate Extraction Zone of the Franklin District Plan (rule 35.5.8), the plan specifies the measurement of blast noise and ground vibration from blasting is to be carried out in accordance with Appendix J of Part 2 of Australian Standard AS 2187.2:1993. The plan also states noise created by the use of explosives measured at a notional boundary of 20 metres from occupied dwellings shall not exceed a peak overall sound pressure of 128dB. However, standards such as these can be difficult to monitor on an ongoing basis and are generally activated in response to a complaint.

Timing restrictions on operations – vibrations

Timing restrictions on vibration-generating activities such as blasting and traffic movements may be imposed as a condition of consent and are reasonably easy to monitor. For example, within the Aggregate Extraction Zone of the Franklin District Plan (rule 35.5.8(iii)), all blasting is restricted to between 1000 and 1600 hours, Monday to Saturday, except where blasting is necessary because of safety reasons. The Wellington City District Plan (rule 7.1.3.3.2) restricts blasting in the Kiwipoint quarry from quarry faces for crushed rock production to only take place between 10am and 2pm, Monday to Friday. 

It is important the timing restrictions seek to avoid and appropriately mitigate the effects of vibration on sensitive activities but are also not too restrictive on industry. It may be appropriate, for example, to specify the maximum number of blasts per week rather than per day, albeit times when blasting can occur may also need to be specified. Determining the appropriate timing restrictions to mitigate the adverse effects from vibration may therefore benefit from a formalised agreement between the quarry operator and nearby residents during the consent determination process, but also following complaints while the quarry is operational.

Quarry management plans – vibrations

Quarry management plans (QMPs) can be used to specify a range of controls relevant to vibration, such as the number of blasting events per month, the timing and noise levels of blasting events, and detailed management procedures to help the applicant and neighbours to deal with vibration effects.

For example, within the Quarry Zone of the Papakura District Plan (Section 3 Part 6 6.13.8.1(d) and (dd)), the operators and owners of each quarry are required to provide a QMP to the council for its retention. The QMP must include a description of methods to be employed to comply with the noise and vibration provisions of the district plan.

QMPs can also detail how and when neighbours will be advised of blasting and the procedures to monitor and measure the vibration from blasting. For example, the Waingaro Road Quarry – Operational Compliance Plan prepared by Perry Resources is a QMP for a hard rock quarry to ensureoperations and environmental risks are managed appropriately and within conditions of consent. It details the site operations, projects and monitoring and contains procedures for contacting neighbours before blasting events.

The Three Kings Quarry – Quarry Management Plan was prepared by Winstone Aggregates in consultation with Auckland City Council and the local community. The plan outlines the site operations, methods to manage a range of environmental effects and the objectives for rehabilitation and end use. The QMP contains an objective to mitigate adverse effects from blasting on the surrounding area with related blasting performance standards. The objective is supported by implementation measures which include time restrictions, a warning siren, signage, monitoring and blast design considerations.

QMPs provide a useful tool for consulting with neighbours and can provide a useful point of contact. QMPs also have the benefit of being monitored reasonably easily,  can be tailored to specific circumstances, and have the potential to be self-monitored by the consent holder in accordance with a consent condition.

Applying lower vibration limits to vibration-sensitive receiving structures in adjacent areas

This involves setting a maximum vibration limit on quarrying activities measured at, or within, the boundary of any adjacent areas or structures. For example, the Mineral Extraction Zone of the Whangarei District Plan (rule 64.3.3 – Appendix 10) specifies the short-term vibration limits from any activity, as measured on any foundation or uppermost full storey of any building on any other site. The limits are as set out in Table 1 of DIN 4150:1986 Part 3, Structural Vibration in Buildings, and the district plan includes environmental performance criteria in accordance with this standard. The criteria vary depending on the use of the particular structure and the vibration frequency (Appendix 10, Table A10.4).

No complaints covenants – vibrations

See the discussion on no complaint covenants in Assessing and providing appropriate access to aggregate resources.

Setback requirements – vibration

This could be applied as a standard in a particular zone located in close proximity to an established quarry. For example, in the Country Living Zone of the Proposed Waikato District Plan (item 27.51), the construction of a dwelling is permitted if it is located at least 200 metres from the boundary of an Aggregate Extraction Policy Area containing a sand resource, and 500 metres from the boundary of an Aggregate Extraction Policy Area containing a rock resource. This approach could be used to reduce a range of potential reverse sensitivity effects that often arise as a result of the proximity of dwellings to quarries, such as visual effects and vibration effects.  

Setback requirements could also be included as a general rule requiring minimum setback requirements from established quarries. For example, rule 2.4.6(g) of the Waipa District Plan requires that new dwellings should not be constructed closer than 500 metres to a site used for mineral extraction or where a consent has been granted for mineral extraction. 

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Dust and air quality issues and effects

Quarries have the potential to create dust through on-site and off-site activities such as the blasting of rock, the crushing and screening of aggregate and machinery movement around the site, and to and from the site. This dust has the potential to cause adverse effects on neighbouring properties, such as the soiling of clean surfaces and outdoor living areas, roofs providing tank water, reduced visual quality and can also cause respiratory problems. 

The nuisance effects from dust and impacts on amenity can be difficult to assess and can sometimes be subjective. Whether the effects from dust are offensive and objectionable will be dependent on the nature of the source, the sensitivity of the receiving environment, the weather and on individual perceptions. Case law has determined that the judgement of whether something is offensive or objectionable has to be linked to whether it is of such an extent that it is likely to have an adverse effect on the environment.

Methods to manage dust and air quality effects

The management approach for dust and air quality effects should be based on environmental standards at the boundary of the site and include effective mitigation measures implemented on site. Quarry operators can implement a number of procedural measures (eg, water spraying of stockpiles) and structural measures (eg, vegetation bunds) to mitigate the effects of dust beyond the boundary of the site.

The adverse effects from dust can be exacerbated by the sensitivity of the receiving environment. Land-use planning therefore plays an important role in helping to manage the adverse effects from dust, by controlling the location of quarries and activities sensitive to dust. 

Some local authorities have taken the approach to equate the production volume or output from the quarry with the scale and significance of the dust effects. This can be problematic as there is not necessarily a direct relationship between output and effects. Rather, the effects will be determined by the nature of the operations, the effectiveness of mitigation measures employed and the sensitivity of the surrounding environment.

Performance standards for particulate matter

This approach involves specifying environmental guidelines in plans in relation to dust that can be used as permitted activity standards or as a guide for consent applications. For example, policy 69 of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Resource Management Plan provides environmental guidelines for activities that have the potential for adverse effects on air quality. These guidelines state that any dust deposition beyond the boundary of the site shall not be more than 4 grams per square metre over 30 days, and that there should be no objectionable deposition of particulate matter beyond the subject property.

The Waikato Regional Plan (section 6.4.2) provides guideline values for activities that are of a scale or nature to discharge significant levels of particulate matter. The guidelines state the particulate deposition rate beyond the boundary of the subject property should not exceed 4g/m² over 30 days and the particulate deposition rate beyond the boundary of the subject property should not exceed 130mg/m² averaged over 24 hours. The plan also outlines the preferred methods for measuring the discharge of particulate matter at source, namely isokinetic methods such as the USEPA method 5 or equivalent.

Performance standards for permitted activities are a useful method to provide guidance on acceptable environmental limits and avoid the need for resource consent when quarries can meet the standards. This approach involves developing permitted activity standards with which quarries must comply, including the use of appropriate management methods. For example, the Waikato Regional Plan contains a permitted activity rule for the discharge of contaminants into air from mineral extraction, screening and storage, providing it meets a number of conditions (rule 6.1.16.1). One of the conditions relates to the use of water sprays to suppress dust from crushing and screening plants, stockpiles, load out areas and access roads.

See the general methods – activity performance standards section for more information.

Assessment criteria to determine dust effects

This method involves developing assessment criteria in plans which can be used to determine the adverse effects from dust generation and whether the discharge is objectionable or offensive. For example, section 6.4.2.2 of the Waikato Regional Plan provides guidelines for assessing the effects of particulate matter. Environment Waikato will take these into account to determine whether the discharge is objectionable to the extent that it has caused or is causing an adverse effect. The criteria include the frequency, intensity, duration, nature and location of the particulate matter discharge and any previous validated complaints relating to the same site. The guidelines also outlines the approach that Environment Waikato will take when receiving complaints regarding particulate matter discharges from permitted activities and consented activities.

Policy AQL6 of Chapter 3 of the Proposed Canterbury Natural Resource Regional Plan states that any discharge of dust shall not cause an objectionable or offensive dispersal or deposition of particles beyond the boundary of the site. The proposed plan also provides assessment criteria to determine whether the discharge of dust will cause or is causing an objectionable or offensive effect. These criteria are to be used for the purposes of assessing compliance with permitted activity standards, permitted activity conditions, and whether to take enforcement action under the RMA.

The Auckland Regional Council has produced a draft technical publication 152 ‘Assessing Discharge of Contaminants into Air’. Section 3.3 of the publication provides guidance on dust effects and how they are assessed. The publication explains the modelling of dust discharge is generally not suitable for large sources such as quarries and that, rather than spend considerable time and effort predicting off-site effects, the preference is for appropriate dust control measures in line with the best practicable option and best practice technologies.

The Ministry for the Environment has produced a Good Practice Guide for Assessing Discharges to Air from Industry that provides general information on how to assess the effects of air discharges from industry on air quality.

Permitted activity rule with management methods

This approach involves developing permitted activity standards that quarries must comply with to be permitted, including the use of appropriate management methods. For example, the Waikato Regional Plan contains a permitted activity rule for the discharge of contaminants into air from mineral extraction, screening and storage, providing it meets a number of conditions (rule 6.1.16.1). One of the conditions relates to the use of water sprays to suppress dust from crushing and screening plants, stockpiles, load out areas and access roads.

Best practicable option – dust

As it is often not possible to avoid all the adverse effects from quarries, it is useful to adopt the best practicable option to mitigate effects. This can be useful to ensure the costs of a particular management option and any uncertainty about its effectiveness are taken into account when determining the best method to use. Refer to the discussion on best practicable option for more information on how this applies to quarries.

For example, rule 6.1.16.1 of the Waikato Regional Plan includes requirements that constitute the best practicable option for extraction, size reduction, screening and storage of minerals. The rule is supported by policy 6.1.3.4, which promotes using the best practicable option approach under appropriate circumstances. The circumstances extend to when numeric guidelines or standards are not available, where there is uncertainty over existing air quality, and the costs and benefits adopting the best practicable option are small in comparison to investigating the effects on air quality. The plan includes thorough explanation and principal reasons to support this policy.

Land-use controls to avoid reverse sensitivity effects from dust

The effects of dust are to a large extent determined by the sensitivity of the surrounding environment. Land-use planning that aims to separate dust-emitting activities from dust-sensitive activities can therefore be an effective method to manage the adverse effects from dust and conflict between incompatible activities.

For example, the Proposed Wellington Regional Policy Statement identifies district plans as the most appropriate regulatory tool to manage reverse sensitivity effects associated with dust through the separation of dust-emitting activities and sensitive activities. Policy 1 of the proposed regional policy statement states that district plans shall discourage sensitive activities locating near dust-emitting activities, and vice versa. Quarries, vegetation disturbance and earthworks are all identified as dust-emitting activities in the statement.

Chapter 4 (Air Quality) of the Proposed Auckland Regional Plan: Air, Land and Water recognises the adverse effects on air quality can be exacerbated by land use and that population growth in the region is intensifying pressure on competing and incompatible land uses. The proposed plan identifies Air Quality Management Areas to help address this issue, and notes that integrated management between the regional and district councils is necessary to ensure the effects from competing and incompatible land uses is adequately considered in the decision-making process.

The Proposed Canterbury Natural Resource Regional Plan identifies that land-use planning has an important role in avoiding dust nuisance. Method AQL(6) of chapter 3 on Air Quality states that territorial authorities should provide for appropriate dust-emitting activities and make provision to protect established dust-emitting activities from encroachment by sensitive activities. 

Quarry management plans – dust

Quarry operators can implement a number of operational measures (eg, water spraying of stockpiles) and structural measures (eg, vegetation bunds) to mitigate the effects of dust beyond the boundary of the site. These measures are generally best outlined and implemented through a site-specific quarry management plan (QMP).

For example, the Friedlander Road Quarry – Operational Compliance Plan is a QMP for a sand extraction quarry to ensure operations and environmental risks are managed appropriately and within conditions of consent. The QMP describes the site operations for sand extraction and specific procedures to manage dust effects such as on-site water cart spraying as required (dry dusty days), minimum distances from boundary for stockpiles and a dust contingency plan.

The Three Kings Quarry – Quarry Management Plan is a QMP prepared by Winstone Aggregates in consultation with Auckland City Council and the local community. It outlines the site operations, methods to manage a range of environmental effects and the objectives for rehabilitation and end use. The QMP contains an objective to mitigate adverse effects from dust beyond the boundary of the site with related performance standards. The objective is supported by implementation measures such as vegetated earth bunds, sprinkler system, vehicle speed limits, wheel washing, and cleaning and maintenance of roads.

Also see the general methods section on quarry management plans for guidance on how these plans can be used to address a wide range of environmental effects through plans and resource consent conditions.

For more general information on approaches to manage the effects of dust on air quality, see the Air Quality Guidance Note and the Ministry for the Environment’s Good Practice Guide for Assessing and Managing the Effects of Dust Emissions

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Issues and effects of earthworks, stockpiling and overburden

Quarries, by their very nature, generally involve earthworks of significant scale through the extraction of rock from land-based resources, gravel from river beds and sand from the coastal marine area. Although a large amount of aggregate is removed from the quarry for use elsewhere, there is also a large amount of material that typically will remain on site. The by-product from quarrying not used for aggregate is generally referred to as ‘overburden’ ie, the material overlying a rock formation that cannot be used for aggregate.

It is in the quarry operator’s interest to keep the amount of overburden to a minimum to maximise the commercial efficiency of the quarry. This overburden can be used effectively to create earth bunds to mitigate other effects such as noise and visual impacts and also to rehabilitate the site. Quarry efficiency and the desire to avoid the unnecessary truck movements from the site mean that overburden may need to be placed on the quarry site or in close proximity. Thus, quarry operators may, as part of their applications, be seeking to create new land forms, normally through the filling of valleys but also through creating mounds or hills. Overburden can normally be considered and handled as a ‘cleanfill’ material.

Stockpiles of the aggregate or sand material produced by the quarry will generally be stored on the site for a short time before being removed by truck.. Where a quarry crushes the rock, aggregate of various grades may result and stockpiles for each grade be produced. These stockpiles may be replenished as the material is sold and trucked from the site with the result that aggregate stockpiling becomes an ongoing activity on the site.

Methods to manage earthworks, stockpiling and overburden

Most councils have general policies on earthworks and/or cleanfill and there can be a degree of overlap in the requirements of regional councils and territorial authorities. Regional councils generally have provisions to manage the impact of earthworks on erosion and water quality. Territorial authorities are generally more concerned with the disturbance of land and the deposition of materials. It is helpful if the effects from earthworks are considered by councils in an integrated manner without unnecessary duplication.

In addition to general earthwork provisions, some plans recognise that earthworks, stockpiling and overburden are activities closely associated with quarrying, and manage these collectively. This is a useful approach as stockpiling is standard practice and overburden can often be used effectively on site to mitigate adverse effects such as noise. Overburden can also contribute to the rehabilitation of the site. The management of stockpiling and overburden can often be managed effectively through a site quarry management plan that details the operations on the site, including the deposition of material. This approach allows operators to adapt over the life of the quarry in response to any concerns. Councils must take care that any adjustment/changes to the location or placement of overburden or stockpiles do not extend beyond the scope of the original consent. Where overburden is proposed to be permanently placed on site then councils should seek for those areas to be rehabilitated in a phased manner so as to minimise visual, dust and sedimentation effects.

Issues to consider in the management of overburden deposits and stockpiles include location within the site, visual effects, dust, silt and sediment control, erosion, stormwater, site stability and geotechnical issues including groundwater infiltration and drainage through and around ‘cleanfilled’ areas and any rehabilitation activities such as ground contour and landscaping.

For further information on managing earthworks refer to the Earthworks guidance note and A Guide to the Management of Cleanfills, Ministry for the Environment, 2002.

Quarry management plans – earthworks, stockpiling and overburden

Quarry management plans (QMPs) may include detailed operational procedures to help manage earthworks, stockpiling and overburden throughout the life of the quarry.

For example, within the Quarry Zone of the Papakura District Plan (Section 3 Part 6 rule 6.13.8.1(1)(d) and (dd)), the operators and owners of each quarry are required to provide a QMP to the council. The QMP must show and explain provisions for the disposal and/or stockpiling of overburden, waste and quarried material, including the area to be used for stockpiling.

Assigning council responsibility

Assigning a particular council with sole responsibility for earthworks controls may be done for the entire district or region, or for a particular zone within a plan. For example, the Whangarei District Plan contains limited rules relating to earthworks, as it was agreed that the Northland Regional Council should be the primary agency assessing the effects of earthworks in the district and wider region. This avoids duplication of responsibilities between councils in respect of earthworks.

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Traffic issues and effects

A core activity associated with quarries is the transportation of aggregate from the (quarry) site to the location of demand. The transport of aggregate requires heavy haulage, and quarries have the potential to significantly increase heavy traffic movements around the site and the key transport corridors providing access to the site. There is the potential for these heavy trucks to damage the roads. Managing traffic from quarries therefore requires consideration of the effects of traffic on the surrounding area and the roading network.

Effects of quarry traffic include dust, vibration, congestion, safety and noise, and these are mainly determined by the sensitivity of the surrounding environment. For example, noise from vehicles associated with quarry operations may be accentuated if located in, or adjacent to, rural areas where the background noise levels are generally low. Vehicle noise is also an issue in urban areas where increased traffic congestion makes it increasingly necessary for quarry transport to take place outside of peak traffic hours when traffic volumes are lower. Background noise levels at night are also lower, accentuating potential noise issues associated with the distribution of quarry resources.

Because there are adverse effects associated with aggregate transport, it can be useful for provision to be made for heavy haulage along key transport routes. This approach should be discussed with the regional council, adjacent councils and NZTA.

Some councils require a roading contribution to offset the damage on the road network. This is a complex issue as councils need to determine the likely road damage associated with the quarry and to what extent roading maintenance should be funded through general rates or targeted contributions. This is discussed more in Challenges in practice.

Methods to manage traffic

Many of the adverse effects from quarry traffic can be managed through on-site management practices, such as regular maintenance of trucks and wheel washes to reduce tracking of mud onto local roads. Traffic movements and the days and hours of transportation in and out of quarry sites can also be limited and/or controlled to reduce effects such as noise and vibration when this may cause greatest disturbance (ie, at night). Any constraints imposed should be clearly necessary to reduce adverse effects on surrounding properties and the wider environment, and take into consideration the quarry’s operation..

Also refer to the Managing Land Transport Noise under the RMA guidance note for specific information on managing the effects of noise from traffic.

General traffic movement standards

These may be imposed as a permitted activity standard or as a condition of consent to provide a maximum permitted number of traffic movements associated with a quarry.

For example, within the Mineral Extraction Area of the Whangarei District Plan (rule 64.3.4), mineral extraction is a permitted activity if it does not cause the total traffic generation from the site to be more than a specified number of traffic movements within any 24-hour period. The number of traffic movements is dependent on whether the activity connects to a public road with a sealed carriageway and whether all vehicle manoeuvring can be undertaken on site.

When imposing limits on traffic movements or operating hours, it is important these are not too restrictive or inflexible for the quarry operator. For example, it may be more appropriate to limit the number of traffic movements per week rather than per day. 

Quarry management plans – traffic

Quarry management plans (QMPs) may include detailed management procedures to help the applicant and neighbours to deal with traffic-related effects. QMPs can be used to specify on-site management practices to address a number of other potential effects, such as wheel washing and vehicle maintenance practices.

For example, within the Quarry Zone of the Papakura District Plan (Section 3 Part 6 rule 6.13.8.1(1)(d) and (dd)), the operators and owners of each quarry are required to provide a QMP to the council. The QMP must include an indication of the route by which quarried material is to be removed from the site, as well as a description of methods to be used to avoid, remedy or mitigate any adverse effects of quarrying operations on identified significant places and areas.

The Three Kings Quarry – Quarry Management Plan prepared by Winstone Aggregates in consultation with Auckland City Council and the local community outlines the site operations, methods to manage a range of environmental effects and the objectives for rehabilitation and end use. The QMP contains an objective to mitigate adverse effects from traffic on the environment, as practicable. The objective is supported by implementation measures which include time restrictions, vehicle maintenance, wheel washing, a warning siren and vehicle entrances design.

Identification of heavy traffic routes

Suitable heavy traffic routes may be identified through regional policy statements and plans to protect existing or future potential quarry sites. The identification, funding and protection of these routes for heavy traffic should ideally be linked to growth strategies and asset management plans. 

An example of a plan that identifies the adverse effects on amenity associated with heavy vehicle traffic and the potential for residential activity to affect the efficient operation of roading assets is Proposed Plan Change 24: Pokeno Structure Plan and New Zoning Provisions to the Franklin District Plan. One objective of this plan change is to avoid operational inefficiencies that can arise from locating residential activity in close proximity to the main transport corridor routes. To achieve this objective, the plan change identifies a high background noise area(Map 107) where the permitted noise level is higher and new residential dwellings must be designed and constructed to not exceed 35dBa Leq (1 hour) at night (rule 27A.6.1).  

The Waitakere City District Plan identifies high noise routes, which are defined as any strategic arterial road, regional arterial road, or district arterial road as shown on the roading hierarchy map. It contains rules in relation to dwellings constructed adjacent to existing high noise routes, and also future high noise routes (general noise standards chapter). The explanation for policy 10.15 (policy section) notes that there are some areas of the city, particularly around the airbases, where noise levels exceed those compatible with human health. The district plan has adopted a policy that seeks to avoid further urban development in areas near the airbases where a number of high noise routes have been identified, as a precaution against further harm. However, district plan recognises this should be balanced against the possibility that design solutions may offset this effect. This approach could similarly be applied to future potential quarries, to protect the primary traffic routes for the aggregate.

Acoustic insulation of new residential dwellings located along high noise routes

This approach can be used as a consent condition or be included as a specific standard for zones along heavy haulage or high noise routes. This can effectively protect existing access to significant aggregate resources, where the resource consent or zoning is proposing to establish new residential activities along a primary traffic route.

For example, Proposed Plan Change 24: Pokeno Structure Plan and New Zoning Provisions to the Franklin District Plan seeks to avoid operational inefficiencies that can arise from locating residential activity in close proximity to the main transport corridor routes. To achieve this objective, the plan change identifies a high background noise area (Map 107) where new residential dwellings must be designed and constructed to not exceed 35Dba Leq (1 hour) at night in bedrooms (rules 27A.6.1 and 29.5.13). These rules require an acoustic report to be provided by the applicant to demonstrate compliance with the standard.  

The Waitakere City District Plan is another example of a plan where the habitable rooms of dwellings on sites adjoining identified current and future high noise routes must be constructed to achieve stated performance standards. Rule 1.3(b) of the general noise standards chapter states any new dwelling or building containing residential activities on a front site adjoining a future high noise route, shall be a permitted activity, where any habitable rooms of the dwelling or residential activity meet the permitted internal acoustic standards. This approach could similarly be applied to future potential quarries, to protect the primary traffic routes for the aggregate.

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Some matters to consider for roading contributions

The transport of aggregate requires heavy truck movements from the site to the source of demand. In many instances, the main transport routes will be known and the number of traffic movements can be estimated over the life of the quarry. For larger quarries, these traffic movements can be significant and have the potential to cause additional road damage along access routes.

To compensate for potential damage to the roading network and any impact on road safety, many councils now require targeted roading contributions for proposed quarries. However, determining whether roading contributions should be required and the appropriate level of contribution is a complex issue dependent on a range of factors.

Although many roading authorities have particular methodologies, there is no standard or accepted methodology to calculate roading contributions. However, there are some general matters that should be considered. These matters will generally require the technical input of traffic/roading engineers, asset managers and planners. These matters include the following.

  • The damage to the road network – the extent to which the existing road network can carry the extra vehicle movements without causing damage to the road will depend on the designed pavement structure and capacity of the road. Major arterial routes should be able to absorb the traffic movements with little or no damage whereas other small rural roads may effectively need to be re-built. Determining the approximate level of road damage associated with a proposed quarry should involve specialist input and take into account a number of factors such as the pavement design-life assumptions, the existing condition of the road, council road-use data and the additional loading on the road.
  • The type of road – the maintenance and provision of major arterial routes is the responsibility of councils and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA). These routes should be designed to cater for all truck movements. It will generally not be appropriate to consider the effects of quarry movements on major arterial routes unless the proposed quarry will add significant loadings, or there are particular safety issues to address because of the additional quarry trucks. However, for local routes where quarry traffic will become the dominant road user, it will generally be appropriate to consider the potential road damage and whether contributions are required.
  • The wider benefits of the contribution/roading upgrade – in many situations the contribution and roading upgrade associated with a proposed quarry may have wider benefits to other road users (eg, through increased road life and improved safety). In these circumstances, it will often be appropriate for councils to contribute to the costs of the roading upgrade from its own sources of funding such as rates.
  • One-off payments versus per tonne levy – whether the contribution should be made up front as a one-off payment or as a per tonne levy over the life of the quarry is a matter to consider. Quarries will generally prefer a one-off payment that provides certainty and helps in the immediate upgrade of the road. If a per tonne levy is used then it should take into account whether the upgrade has made the road to a standard where it can accommodate the additional vehicle movements (and therefore ongoing charges may not be appropriate). Discount factors may also be required to determine the appropriate ongoing cost.
  • Cross-boundary issues – often the transport of aggregate will extend beyond one district and roading contributions may be required from more than one council. This can be a particular issue where the two councils have different methods to determine and administer roading contributions. In these situations, adjoining councils should work together to develop a consistent approach to calculate the appropriate level of road contributions.
  • General funding for roading works – roading funding is sourced either locally through rates/contributions or at the national level through NZTA. The NZTA share of funding is typically around 50 per cent and this is sourced through the Government and road-user charges. Those transporting aggregate are subject to road charges so any roading contributions from council means they are essentially paying ‘twice’ if the contribution is made on the total cost of the work. Councils should consider whether it is appropriate for the contribution to be based and proportioned on the council’s share of the cost or the total cost of upgrading.  

Quarries are generally willing to undertake works or provide contributions to manage road safety associated with increased traffic activity around the site. The extent of the mitigation/contribution should, however, be determined according to the scale of the safety issue caused by the proposed quarry and whether there are existing safety issues. If the latter is the case and there are wider benefits of the works, it will generally be appropriate for a council to make a contribution. For example, Perry Resources and Franklin District Council both contributed to the costs of an intersection upgrade near a proposed quarry as the council acknowledged there were already safety issues. The council also paid for the upgrade of a section of road to be used by the quarry trucks as there were already capacity and pavement issues. 

Water quality, use issues and effects

Extraction, processing and transportation of aggregate involves processes which generate suspended sediment with the potential to be entrained in water and eventually discharged into stormwater, surface water or groundwater. Quarries can also interrupt natural groundwater processes through changes or concentration of areas of recharge.

In addition to the potential effects on water quality, quarries will often use water for cleaning and washing aggregate and to control dust. The actual demand for water varies and many quarries use little or no water as most is used and then returned to groundwater. However, large quarries use significant amounts of water for dust suppression , particularly during drier times of the year.

Entrained sediment can have adverse effects on water quality through an increase in suspended sediment and loss of water clarity, which may impact on aquatic flora and fauna species. This is a particular issue during runoff events, and the effects on water quality can be site specific, on site and off site, short and long term and cumulative.

In addition to sediment, there may be other contaminants on ite (eg, diesel tanks and oil from machinery) with the potential to contaminate stormwater run-off.

Avoiding water being contaminated by via storage on quarry sites and sedimentation will require site-specific measures, which could include cut-off drains, sedimentation ponds and/or wetlands, bunding and spill procedures.

Methods to manage water quality and quantity

The management approach for water quality should be based on the quality of the water at the point of discharge, and the adverse environmental effects beyond the boundary of the site. This allows for the environmental controls, assessment of effects on water quality and appropriate mitigation methods to be based on the values of the receiving water body.

To provide guidance on the environmental objectives for water bodies, it is good practice to have performance standards or environmental guidelines for water quality (eg, suspended sediment levels). The effects from the discharge will vary depending on the existing quality of the water body and the type of water body being discharged into (eg, surface water, groundwater or coastal marine area). The nature and type of water body should be considered when setting the performance standards from discharges into these water bodies, and to also consider the council’s objectives and policies and specifically any clear goals or action plans to clean up a waterway.

When identifying appropriate management methods, it can be useful to adopt the best practicable option (BPO) as it factors in costs and the receiving environment. Determining the BPO is often best done through discussions with industry taking into account site-specific factors associated with the proposal. Refer to the discussion on best practicable option for further information.

It can also be useful for RMA plans to provide guidance on appropriate methods to mitigate adverse effects on water quality. Plans need to be flexible enough to allow for new management methods to be implemented as technology improves. A good approach to achieve this is by requiring a quarry management plan which contains methods to mitigate effects on water quality, related to site-specific standards. These management plans should specify general methods to reduce sedimentation and more specific methods to reduce and respond to spills from other contaminants on site.

Water is likely to need cleaning before discharging back to any waterway. Some quarries use large quantities of water for dust suppression, which may be an issue where the water resource is limited. It is important water spraying for dust suppression is only undertaken when necessary and not as a standard daily procedure to reduce water contamination effects. 

In addition to water quality, the amount of water used by a quarry and its disruption to natural groundwater flow should be considered, particularly in areas where neighbouring uses rely on groundwater (the use of bores). Further assessment may be needed to identify how much a proposed quarry will impact on groundwater. This process may be supported where groundwater management strategies are in place.

For more information on methods to manage water quality see the Surface Water Quality Guidance Note. The Planning for Water Allocation Guidance Note provides information on managing water use and setting allocation limits. 

Guidelines – water quality and quantity

This approach involves setting environmental guidelines in plans for water quality or setting minimum water flows for particular rivers. For example, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Resource Management Plan has environmental guidelines for surface water quality that include suspended solid levels in different catchment areas within the region. To guide decisions on resource consents, policy 72 of the plan states the activity should no more than double the suspended solids concentration or turbidity of the receiving water body (where the specified concentration is less than the guideline for the particular water body), or should not cause the concentration of suspended solids to increase by more than 10 per cent, as determined on a case-by-case basis (when the suspended solid concentration is equal or higher than the environmental guideline for the water body).

Section 5.5 of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Resource Management Plan also provides environmental guidelines for surface water quantity for specific rivers. The objective is to sustain aquatic species and natural character, while making the water resource available for a number of purposes. To achieve this objective, the plan sets minimum flows for specific sites on rivers and the maximum volume for allocation.

This approach involves developing guidelines to provide information on appropriate methods and technologies which can be used to mitigate effects on water quality. However, it is not necessarily appropriate for guidelines to be used as standards or rules (that must be complied with), as technologies and on-site procedures change and there may be new methods that achieve greater levels of compliance and treatment. 

An example of a guideline for stormwater treatment is the Technical Publication 10: Design Guideline for Manual Stormwater Treatment Devices produced by the Auckland Regional Council. This guideline outlines a range of approaches to manage the effects of stormwater from sites, and chapter 5 provides information on stormwater pond design, construction and maintenance.

Activity performance standards – water

This approach involves setting performance standards for water quality or use with which activities must comply to be permitted; otherwise a resource consent is required.

For example, section 3.2.4.6 of the water module of the Waikato Regional Plan has suspended solid standards for the discharge of stormwater into surface water. The suspended solid standards state an activity or discharge shall not increase the concentration of suspended solids in the receiving water by more than 10 per cent and that the suspended solids concentration of the discharge shall not exceed 25, 80 or 100 grams per cubic metre depending on the receiving environment. For the discharge of stormwater from quarries to be permitted, quarries must have an interceptor in place, and comply with the suspended sediment standard and other conditions in section 3.5.11.4 of the plan.

Chapter 33 of the Tasman Resource Management Plan includes permitted activity conditions for the discharge of sediment or debris from land disturbance activities into fresh or coastal water. These conditions include that the discharge of sediment does not cause a discernible change to any habitat, or cause the visual clarity of the receiving water to change by more than 40 per cent. In addition to these permitted activity standards, there is a quarry area in Section 18 of the plan (Special Area Rules). This states that no excavation or processing of aggregate should be undertaken within 10 metres of a river or stream.

The Proposed Auckland Regional Plan: Air, Land and Water has rules on water take that determine the type of resource consent required based on the combination of volume of take, the season, and the water use management area within which the activity is located. Under rule 6.5.8, the taking and use of no more than 5 cubic metres per day from a river, stream or spring is a permitted activity subject to conditions. The taking and use of no more than 100 cubic metres per day from a river, stream or spring during the six-month period from 1 May to 31 October is a controlled activity, becoming discretionary outside of this time period. The proposed plan also provides a number of assessment criteria for when resource consent is required, including the efficient use of water resources and adverse effects on water quality.

Quarry management plans – water quality and quantity

The Waitakere City District Plan identifies a quarry special area for Waitakere Quarry, similar to a zone, where quarries need to meet the standards of a quarry management plan (QMP) to be a permitted activity. A QMP is attached as an appendix to Rule 13 of the Special Area Rules. This includes a condition relating to water quality; that a silt trap shall be formed and maintained on the quarry floor and any crusher shall be bunded. It also requires quarry operations to ensure silt and any hazardous substances from the quarry do not enter the stream. 

The Waingaro Road Quarry – Operational Compliance Plan provides an example of a QMP for a hard rock quarry to ensure operations and environmental risks are managed appropriately and within conditions of consent. It details the site operations, projects and monitoring and contains procedures to manage effects on water quality, such as the process to install and maintain silt ponds, and the spill procedures to avoid contamination.

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Issues and effects of extraction from river beds and the coastal marine area

Extracting aggregate from river beds and the coastal marine area often has a number of extra issues compared to land-based extraction that require special consideration. Extraction from these areas is generally required to obtain specific forms of aggregate (eg, sand, exposed fluvial rock). However, fluvial and coastal environments are often valued for a number of reasons such as amenity, natural character and ecology. Also, these areas are often culturally significant to local iwi (see Cultural and Heritage). This can lead to opposition to aggregate extraction in river beds and in the coastal marine area in particular, and means the potential adverse effects need to be carefully assessed and managed in these environments.

Extraction from river beds is an important source of aggregate and is more common than extraction from the coastal marine area. In lowland fluvial areas, such as Canterbury, Otago and Hawke’s Bay, fluvial gravel is a major source of aggregate. Gravel extraction from river beds can, in some instances, help manage flood risk and channel bed erosion, and many councils are involved in gravel extraction for flood risk management purposes.

Whereas there are a number of potential benefits from gravel extraction in river beds, there are also some additional issues that must be considered. These issues primarily relate to the potential adverse effects on aquatic life, natural processes and character and amenity. For example, the Tasman Resource Management Plan identifies the following issues associated with extraction of rock and on-site processing of aggregate in river beds:

  • extraction exacerbating a bed degradation trend, with site and downriver effects from lowered groundwater levels and exposure of river control structures
  • adverse effects on some aquatic habitat values and risk of contaminant discharge where extraction is close to water level
  • the potential to affect channel dynamics for stability and capacity and increase the flood risk.

It is important the potential effects on aquatic ecosystems and sediment dynamics are considered when managing the effects of extraction of gravel and sand from river beds. Extraction from river beds should be assessed in terms of the wider effects on the sediment system, as there is often potential for gravel and sand extraction to limit the sediment supply to the coast. It is also important to recognise and provide for the preservation of the natural character of rivers and their margins as a matter of national importance under section 6 of the RMA.

Extraction of sand from the coastal marine area, whereas less common than extraction from river beds, is still undertaken in a number of sites around New Zealand to obtain specific types of sand. Sand extraction can also be used to rehabilitate beaches and provide a buffer against coastal erosion.

On-shore extraction from the coastal marine area can generate a number of issues that need to be considered to reduce the adverse effects on the coastal environment. These issues include:

  • the high natural character values often attached to the coastal environment, which require preservation as a matter of national importance under section 6 of the RMA
  • the potential impact on coastal marine ecosystems and the difficulties in assessing the impacts of extraction on these ecosystems
  • the inherent uncertainties in monitoring and modelling sediment dynamics in the coastal environment to determine what effect sand extraction (and deposition) may have on shoreline erosion
  • the uncertainty regarding climate change and sea-level rise as an exacerbator of coastal erosion.

It is important these issues are considered in coastal extraction proposals, and this will often involve the input of technical specialists such as coastal scientists. It may be appropriate to avoid or constrain extraction in coastal areas with high natural character value, or vulnerable to erosion, or where the adverse effects cannot be effectively managed. 

Methods to manage extraction in river beds and the coastal marine area

Managing the effects of extraction in river beds and the coastal marine area requires additional considerations to land-based extraction. These relate to the potential adverse effects on aquatic habitats, sediment dynamics, amenity and the natural character of the coastal and river environments. Given there is a degree of uncertainty about the potential impact on these values, adaptive management will often be the most appropriate approach so the effects of the extraction can be monitored over time.

To manage flood risk through gravel extraction, it is good practice to work with industry to provide benefits to both parties and a number of councils are doing this. Working closely with industry also allows for more efficient measures of allocation to be implemented. The consent process allows for site-specific mitigation of effects through the implementation of appropriate management methods.

Determining the potential effects on sediment dynamics of extraction from both rivers and the coastal marine area will generally require technical input and guidance. Where there is uncertainty regarding the potential effects of extraction on the wider sediment supply system, it may be appropriate to take a precautionary approach. This is particularly important in coastal areas that are vulnerable to coastal erosion. A precautionary approach does not necessarily equate to prohibiting extraction completely, but may involve a more limited quantity and duration of extraction coupled with a monitoring strategy. 

For more general information on methods to manage effects of land-based activities on the coastal environment see the Coastal Land Development Guidance Note. The Coastal Hazards and Climate Change: Guidance Manual for Local Authorities also provides information on how to manage coastal erosion and the potential effects of climate change. 

Integrated gravel extraction studies and reports

This approach involves undertaking research on gravel extraction issues and effects, and future supply and demand for gravel. This can be used as a basis to develop a management framework. For example, the Regional Gravel Management Report prepared by Environment Canterbury provides useful information to underpin the future management of fluvial gravel extraction. The report provides investigation into the physical effects of gravel extraction, the demand and supply of fluvial gravels in Canterbury and outlines options for future gravel management. This report was subject to community consultation and provides recommendations for a future management approach to gravel extraction in the region.

Policies on extraction within fluvial areas or coastal environment

Many regional plans and policy statements contain specific policies and rules for extraction within river beds and the coastal marine area, in recognition of the special characteristics of these environments. For example, section 27 (Minerals) of the Northland Regional Policy Statement has specific policies to avoid the adverse effects of sand extraction from the coastal marine area, and gravel extraction from rivers, by encouraging the use of land-based alternatives where these are reasonably available. The policy statement also contains policies to ensure the rate of extraction from rivers and the coastal marine area does not exceed natural replenishment rates and result in significant geomorphic changes.

The Auckland Regional Policy Statement, while recognising the importance of protecting aggregate resources, states that quarry activities will not be considered appropriate in areas of high natural value, such as the Hauraki Gulf Islands. Policy 13.4.1 states that mineral extraction and processing activities should be avoided in those areas where these activities would have an adverse effect on the natural character of the coastal environment (including the coastal marine area), wetlands, and lakes and their rivers and margins.

The Bay of Plenty Regional River Gravel Management Plan provides a comprehensive approach to managing the effects of gravel extraction in the region. Part III of the plan provides specific objectives, policies and methods relating to gravel extraction. 

Activity performance standards – extraction in river beds and the coastal marine area

The Waikato Regional Plan (chapter 4) manages the extraction of sand and gravel based on the amount being extracted and the location. Extraction is permitted in some river beds for up to 50 cubic metres per year of sand and gravel, subject to a number of conditions. Extraction between 50 and 200 cubic metres is controlled, and above this it is discretionary. The regional plan also has different rules for extraction in the Coromandel Peninsula Rivers. In these rivers, extraction is a restricted discretionary activity with the council reserving its control over a larger number of matters.

In the disturbance section of the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan there are a number of rules relating to disturbance (extraction) of sand, shell or shingle in the coastal area (section 16.6). These rules determine whether resource consent is required and, if it is, what type. Minor disturbances are permitted or controlled, whereas larger volumes of extraction are discretionary and/or restricted coastal activities. This is to enable removal of large quantities of sand from predominantly closed physical systems to be more closely managed. In areas identified as having significant conservation value, the extraction of quantities over 50,000 cubic metres is a prohibited activity. Decision-making criteria and considerations are also set out in Appendix II of the plan. 

The Bay of Plenty Regional River Gravel Management Plan provides a comprehensive approach to managing the effects of gravel extraction in the region. Part III of the plan provides specific rules relating to gravel extraction that determine whether the activity is permitted, provided it can meet a number of performance standards.

The Wellington Regional Coastal Plan provides a number of rules on gravel or shingle extraction in the coastal marine area (section 7.3) that vary depending on the amount being extracted and the location. Extraction in the coastal marine area outside of areas of significant conservation value is a discretionary activity or a restricted coastal activity depending on the amount being extracted. Extraction of gravel or shingle within the identified areas of significant conservation value in the regional coastal plan is a non-complying activity. 

Linking extraction with flood management

This approach involves developing specific objectives, policies and rules that recognise the potential benefits of extraction for flood risk mitigation and beach nourishment. This approach is most useful when supported by specific performance standards and controls, identifying circumstances under which extraction from the river bed and coastal marine areas is appropriate.

For example, section 3.11 of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Resource Management Plan has specific objectives and policies for river bed gravel extraction that link extraction to the management of flood risk. Objective 29 is to facilitate gravel extraction from areas where it is desirable for river management purposes, while ensuring that any adverse effects of gravel extraction are avoided, remedied or mitigated. This objective recognises that in some areas there is a surplus of gravel which can cause problems for river flood management. Policy 54 of the plan seeks to integrate the management of gravel extraction with river control works by encouraging gravel extraction where there is potential to minimise flooding or the risk of damage to essential structures.  

The Marlborough Wairau/Awatere Resource Management Plan has a specific section on mineral extraction (chapter 24) which recognises the importance of gravel extraction in the lower Wairau Plain as an integral component of floodplain management. The plan contains an objective to manage gravel and sand extraction to improve the efficient and effective performance of river channels and floodway systems, especially in the stock-banked floodways of the main Wairau floodplain. 

The Waikato Coastal Regional Plan contains a number of provisions relating to extraction from the coastal marine area. This includes rule 16.6.5 which provides for deposition of sand for the purposes of beach nourishment as a controlled activity, providing it meets terms and conditions. The plan states the reason for this rule is that beach nourishment is one of the favoured options for remedying beach erosion. However, this does not by itself provide justification for extraction at any one given location.

Assessment criteria – extraction in river beds and the coastal marine area

This approach involves developing rules with supporting criteria to help determine which type of extraction is considered appropriate and the important considerations to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects.

For example, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Resource Management Plan provides assessment criteria when considering resource consent applications to help ensure the adverse effects of gravel extraction are avoided, remedied or mitigated (section 6.8.6). The criteria are comprehensive and include the avoidance of contaminants from machinery and sediments entering water bodies, the effect of extraction on the ecology of the river, and the extent to which natural processes will be capable of returning the river bed to a state of equilibrium following extractive activity.

The Bay of Plenty Regional River Gravel Management Plan provides a comprehensive approach to managing the effects of gravel extraction in the region. Chapter 16 provides assessment criteria to consider for consent applications for gravel extraction, which include the effects on erosion, water quality and ecology.

Resource consent conditions and duration – extraction in river beds and the coastal marine area

The resource consent process can be used to limit the effects of extraction through setting consent conditions and limiting the duration of the consent. Limiting the duration and scope of the consent for extraction is a particularly useful approach where there is uncertainty regarding the effects of extraction, or where the allocation of extraction needs to be balanced between competing users. For example, phase 1 of an extraction activity might only be approved, or extraction could be phased so as to include rest periods during which waterways are allowed to recover. This again can be linked to water quality standards.

For example, the decision on the application by Perry Resources for Sand Extraction, clean filling and vegetation removal in property adjoining a rural river has conditions relating to the extraction of 300,000 cubic metres of sand per year on average from the Waikato River. This decision by Franklin District Council includes consent conditions covering a range of matters and it limits the amount and location of sand extraction to avoid adverse effects and distance extraction away from protected trees, sands and flood defence systems.

See the Quality Planning Consent Processing Resource for more guidance on setting resource consent conditions and duration.

Guidelines – extraction in river beds and the coastal marine area

As extraction from river beds and the coastal marine area often requires some technical input, it is useful to produce guidelines on how to assess and manage the effects from extraction.

For example, Environment Bay of Plenty has produced River Gravel Management Guidelines. These guidelines provide useful reference material on gravel management which are intended to be used for education, to complement the regulatory controls in the River Gravel Management Plan and to lead to environmental improvements. The guidelines include background information on gravel sources and process, principles to manage adverse effects from extraction and some operation guidelines for extraction and associated monitoring and reporting. 

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Ecological and vegetation removal issues and effects

The establishment or expansion of quarry sites will often require the disturbance of the natural environment and removal of vegetation. This may range from a small area of bush to a significant change in a natural habitat, including the loss of significant areas of native bush and the diversion of streams. Indeed, many significant aggregate resources are also areas of high ecological value due to the nature of the terrain (eg, uplifted rock) which means the native vegetation has not been removed for agricultural purposes. The Environment Court has confirmed that in such circumstances, it is appropriate to recognise the value of the area for both the ecological resource and the mineral resource (refer Winstone Aggregates v Rodney District Council [2009] (A054/09)).

Extraction within river beds and the coastal marine area requires consideration of the potential impact on aquatic habitats and marine biodiversity. Often these effects are harder to assess and manage because there is much less information and knowledge about the potential impacts on marine and river ecologies. For more information on managing the effects of extraction on aquatic ecosystems see extraction from river beds and the coastal marine area

Methods to manage ecological effects from quarries

To help assess effects on ecology from vegetation removal, plans should identify areas of high ecological value or natural landscape value. Identifying these high value areas should be accompanied by objectives and policies that discourage activities that involve vegetation removal or disturbance in these areas. This provides certainty as to the intended use for the site but should not always equate to prohibition of other activities within the zone, as many of these areas also have significant value for the underlying aggregate resource. When there is both high ecological value and aggregate resource value an assessment would have to be carried out to decide how to balance these values.

To help manage ecology, plans can specify policies for revegetation that the quarry must carry out to mitigate or minimise ecological effects. Another approach is to require a quarry management plan to be prepared that includes provisions to mitigate the effects on ecology caused by vegetation removal if possible. This is a useful approach, as it allows the management approach to be adapted over time and tailored to the specific site. A quarry management plan may also be used to manage the effects on aquatic species and marine ecosystems from extraction from river beds and the coastal marine area .  

Activity performance standards – ecological effects

This approach involves developing rules and performance standards to provide guidance on the significance of the vegetation removal and the important effects to consider. For example, in the Land and Soil Module of the Waikato Regional Plan (chapter 5), there are a number of rules around vegetation clearance aimed at minimising potential erosion and adverse effects on water quality. The rules determine whether a consent is required and, if so, what type, based on the volume of vegetation clearance, the type of vegetation being cleared and the location of the clearance. For example, vegetation removal is generally permitted up to an area of 5 hectares and then it becomes a controlled activity. However, this rule excludes planted forests, where vegetation removal of over 5 hectares is still permitted.

In the Mineral, Aggregate and Hydrocarbon Extraction District Wide Activity section of the Hastings District Plan (section 13.2) there are specific performance standards and criteria for mineral extraction and processing, which include specific assessment criteria relating to land disturbance and vegetation clearance. The plan provides for land disturbance and vegetation clearance from quarry operations as a restricted discretionary activity, assessed for the effects on the life-supporting capacity of soils, soil erosion and stability, natural landforms and contours and flora and fauna. 

This section of the plan also includes specific performance standards and terms with which quarry operators must comply, including site revegetation to minimise overall disturbance to vegetation. The standard states that where vegetation clearance occurs, disturbed areas should be re-pastured or revegetated as soon as possible within the next growing season.

Section 18 of the Tasman Resource Management Plan (Special Area Rules) relates to a quarry area where quarrying is a discretionary activity, providing it complies with standards and terms. One of the matters for the council’s discretion is the extent to which the proposed quarry will detract from the landscape and conservation values of the site and locality, including effects on indigenous vegetation.  

Offsetting

This approach involves identifying offsetting as an appropriate method to mitigate the ecological effects from vegetation removal. This may be included as a general policy or method, but it is more useful when plans provide guidance on the type of offsetting considered appropriate. See more detail on offsetting adverse ecological effects in challenges in practice.

The ecology section of Proposed Rural Plan Change 13 to the Papakura District Plan proposed a number of general policies aimed at identifying and protecting areas of significant ecological resources, including provision of development incentives. Policies in section 2.4 of the plan change provide for development potential as an incentive to protect and manage ecologically significant resources in perpetuity, and to encourage the restoration and enhancement of degraded ecologically significant resources. Decisions relating to proposed rural plan change 13 were publicly notified on 5 August 2009 and are currently subject to appeals.

The financial contributions section of Horizons Proposed One Plan contains policies identifying the use of a financial contribution to offset any adverse effects on biodiversity where such adverse effects will not be adequately avoided, remedied or mitigated. The purpose of the financial contribution would be to offset the adverse effects by providing for the protection, restoration or enhancement of biodiversity, in a location with similar biodiversity values.

Chapter 2 of the Proposed Waikato District Plan has a number of objectives, policies and methods to manage the effects of development on indigenous vegetation and habitats. These include policies 2.2.6 and 2.2.7 which state that regard should be had to replacing or restoring habitats when remedying or mitigating adverse effects on indigenous biodiversity. These policies recognise the use and development of indigenous habitats are not precluded, but where adverse effects occur they should be mitigated at that site or offset by conservation at another site of similar ecosystem type.  

The Assessing Applications Involving Native Vegetation Removal practice note by the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria, Australia provides guidance on assessing planning permits involving vegetation removal, including appropriate offset options and calculations. Although this guidance relates to planning permits in Australia it still provides a useful framework for offset calculations based on the conservation significance of the vegetation being removed. 

Quarry and landscape management plans – ecological

This approach can be imposed as a condition of a consent or identified as a requirement in plans for a quarry management plan (QMP) to be prepared that includes specific provisions relating to vegetation removal, replanting or enhancement. For example, the Waitakere City District Plan identifies a quarry special area for the Waitakere Quarry (special areas section), where an activity meeting the standards of the QMP is a permitted activity. The QMP includes a condition to retain certain areas of native vegetation identified in a plan, which shows the areas to be quarried and where the existing areas of vegetation cover should be retained.

The Aggregate Extraction and Processing Zone of the Franklin District Plan (Part 35) requires a management plan to accompany any resource consent application for aggregate extraction activities, for approval and inclusion as a condition of consent. The plan states these management plans shall include, as appropriate, a landscape plan, and an ongoing or staged rehabilitation programme including objectives and revegetation techniques.

The Waingaro Road Quarry – Operational Compliance Plan prepared by Perry Resources provides an example of a QMP for a hard rock quarry to ensure operations and environmental risks are managed appropriately and within conditions of consent. It details the site operations, projects and monitoring and contains procedures to manage and mitigate the adverse effects on ecology. This includes procedures for vegetation removal and re-planting which are planned annually based on a set of criteria. Planting projects on site include planting of a visual bund, wetland and stream diversions.

Also see the general methods section on quarry management plans for guidance on how these plans can be used to address a wide range of environmental effects through plans and resource consent conditions.

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Visual issues and effects

Quarrying typically involves large-scale excavation that can have a significant visual impact on the landscape. Often quarries are located in a rural setting, but there are also a number of quarries in close proximity to, or within, urban areas. Quarries in both rural and urban locations may be visually inconsistent with the surrounding areas or visually dominant where the operations are large scale. Rehabilitation of quarries and related overburden deposits may also impact on visual effects in the long term.

The visual impact will also be dependent on site-specific factors such as the direction of the working face, buildings and other structures associated with on-site crushing and processing, and the screening around the site. It is in the industry’s interest to minimise the visual effects from quarries to help avoid complaints and potential reverse sensitivity pressures. Screening (eg, earth bunds, vegetation) has the potential to significantly mitigate the visual effects throughout the life of a quarry, as does the orientation and direction of extraction. For example, the Fulton Hogan York Quarry sits adjacent to an urban area, therefore the quarry has undertaken development so that the cut face is facing away from Nelson City to reduce visual effects. In the Fulton Hogan Wairoa Quarry, which is a rural quarry, a berm has been used to obscure the view of the cut face from nearby rural-residential properties.

Quarries often operate at night and require permanent and/or temporary lighting to be installed on the site. Lighting plans may be required with details relating to angle and type of lights to ensure glare is adequately controlled and mitigated.

General bulk and location standards

These may be imposed as a condition of consent or an activity standard within a plan. For example, within the Aggregate Extraction Zone of the Franklin District Plan (Part 35) permitted activity conditions include the requirement for a 5-metre front yard to be landscaped with planting which, at maturity, will achieve a significant visual screening effect. Plantings are required to be maintained at all times.

Quarry management plans – visual issues and effects

Quarry management plans (QMPs) may be imposed as a condition of consent or as a standard in a plan, and include detailed management procedures to help the applicant and neighbours to deal with visual effects.

For example, within the Quarry Zone of the Papakura District Plan (Section 3 Part 6 rule 6.13.8.1(1)(d) and (dd)), the operators and owners of each quarry are required to provide a QMP to the council. The QMP must include provision for screening visually intrusive features from public view and provision for the progressive restoration of the site.

The Three Kings Quarry – Quarry Management Plan was prepared by Winstone Aggregates in consultation with Auckland City Council and the local community. It outlines the site operations, methods to manage a range of environmental effects and the objectives for rehabilitation and end use. The QMP contains a landscape and visual objective to minimise adverse effects on the surrounding community. This objective is supported by performance standards and implementation measures such as landscaping and revegetation of completed areas.

It may also be appropriate in certain circumstances, to require a landscape management plan for quarries that outlines methods to reduce visual effects. This may be included as part of the quarry landscape management plan or as a separate document. The landscape management plan would generally outline any planting requirements, site maintenance at the boundary and the construction of any visual barriers to reduce visual effects. Section 7.6 (Landscape and Visual) of Winstone Aggregates Hunua Quarry – Management Plan provides an example of measures that are undertaken on site to minimise adverse landscape and visual effects on the surrounding community. 

Progressive restoration and rehabilitation (also see rehabilitation)

This may be imposed as a condition of consent or a plan may require consideration of the ability to progressively restore and rehabilitate the quarry. The progressive restoration or rehabilitation of the site can be an effective means of minimising the visual effects from a quarry, both on a temporary and long-term basis.

For example, the Wellington City District Plan requires Kiwipoint Quarry to progressively rehabilitate all land encompassed within the quarry boundary, except where used for other permitted or consented activities (rule 7.1.3.6.1).

Use of visual barriers such as earth bunds or solid fences

This could be applied as a condition of consent or as a standard for quarries within a plan. If applied as a standard in a plan this should be a flexible provision, as the effectiveness of visual barriers will depend on what they are constructed of, how they are constructed, and the nature of the visual effect generated.

Natural visual barriers such as earth bunds are generally best developed in conjunction with the quarry operator when they are establishing the direction of working in the quarry. For example, Fulton Hogan have retained an existing hill on the side of their Wairoa quarry to provide a natural visual and noise barrier to the surrounding rural-residential area.

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Rehabilitation issues and effects

Quarry sites can often be effectively rehabilitated for other purposes at the end of their productive life. Rehabilitation can avoid some of the adverse effects associated with quarries. Often there is some requirement for proposed quarry operations to detail rehabilitation plans for the end of the quarry’s life. This can be a useful method to mitigate adverse effects, but it can be difficult for quarry operators, who are often looking at a significant long-term timeframe for the project. There are also other expectations from the community of how a quarry site should be rehabilitated.

One of the best approaches for quarries with a long working life is to stipulate the requirement for a rehabilitation plan to be submitted to council for approval at a set date before the quarry closes. Such a plan may need to include staged rehabilitation and, as such, conditions should be drafted as appropriate. This allows for the rehabilitation plan to be linked to the objectives for the site at the time, although any changes to the end use of the site, or staging that goes beyond the scope of the original consent, will attract the need for additional consents.

It is important to note that different quarries have different effects and can be rehabilitated in different ways. For example, a sand or gravel quarry can rehabilitate over time as the work moves across a site, whereas it may be more difficult for hard rock quarries to rehabilitate as work progresses. Rehabilitation may also be carried out over stages to mitigate other effects such as visual impacts and noise while the final rehabilitation plans are not known.

Methods to manage the rehabilitation of quarries

Quarry management plans – rehabilitation

These may be imposed as a condition of consent or a permitted activity standard, and include detailed procedures for progressive rehabilitation to help the applicant and neighbours to deal with effects. Quarry Management Plans (QMPs) in the context of rehabilitation have the benefit of being adaptive over the working life of the quarry and with respect to the site-specific circumstances. For example, the Wellington City District Plan requires the Kiwipoint Quarry to produce an annual report which outlines what rehabilitation has been carried out, what rehabilitation is planned in the next year and what has been learnt from the previous year’s rehabilitation works (policy 6.2.3.3A).

The Papakura District Plan (Section 3 Part 6 rule 6.13.8.1(1)(d) and (dd)) also requires a QMP, which must include provision for the progressive restoration of the site, such that the land will be left in such condition as the council considers suitable for the establishment of those uses to which that land may be subsequently put.

The Three Kings Quarry – Quarry Management Plan was prepared by Winstone Aggregates in consultation with Auckland City Council and the local community. It outlines the site operations, methods to manage a range of environmental effects and the objectives for rehabilitation and end use. The QMP acknowledges there are many options available for rehabilitation and sets out a guiding principle for the selection of the suitable end use and rehabilitation options. The plan provides five basic rehabilitation options and potential uses which will be considered further in consultation with Auckland City Council and the local community.

When the quarry has reached its end life, a QMP may then be developed to rehabilitate the site. For example, the Haswell Quarry Park Management Plan in Christchurch is a council-owned project to progressively rehabilitate the quarry into the wider park area.

Rehabilitation plan

A requirement to submit a rehabilitation plan to the council for approval within a particular timeframe before the closure of the quarry may be imposed as a condition of consent. This can provide the council with greater certainty on the proposed end use of the quarry (eg, requiring a rehabilitation plan to be submitted and approved a minimum of one year prior to the anticipated closure of a quarry), rather than if a rehabilitation plan was required at the time of lodgement, when it may be more difficult to determine the appropriate end use.

The Wellington City District Plan (policy 6.2.3.3A) also requires that a rehabilitation implementation plan be prepared annually for Kiwipoint Quarry, in accordance with the QMP. This requirement is included because successful rehabilitation of any disturbed area requires constant monitoring as site conditions vary considerably and evolve over time. Regular observation and recording of results is seen as an essential part of managing the process.

Bonds

Bonds may be imposed as a condition of consent under ss108 and 108A of the RMA. These may be imposed as a rate per tonne of aggregate produced over the life of a quarry or a fixed price. Bonds are generally acceptable to the industry, but can create time and cost issues for councils in their administration. However, it is often the specific wording of the consent condition that will determine the complexity of the administration.

For example, conditions 53–56 of conditions imposed by Hutt City Council on Winstone Aggregates – Cottle Overburden Disposal Area provides for a bond to be entered into. The purpose of the bond is to satisfy conditions 46 and 47 of the consent which relate to a requirement for a rehabilitation plan for the progressive rehabilitation of the site.

Refer to the resource consent conditions guidance note for further discussion on bond conditions.

Back to effects and methods table

Cultural and historic heritage values

Under the RMA, local authorities are required to recognise and provide for the relationship of Māori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, wāhi tapu, and other taonga (s6(e)), and to have particular regard to recognition and protection of the heritage values of sites, buildings, places or areas (s7(e)). In addition the Schedule 2, Part II, cl2(c) requires councils to make provision in relation to the protection of natural, physical, and cultural heritage sites and values, including landscape, land forms, historic places and wāhi tapu.

Quarrying typically involves large-scale excavation which has the potential to affect cultural and historic heritage values. As quarries are often associated with rivers, coastal areas or identifiable rock formations, the potential effects on cultural values is quite a common issue. These values may be known or unknown at the time a quarrying activity is proposed in a particular location. The challenge is identifying all cultural and historic heritage values associated with the area to be quarried, and ensuring these values are protected from inappropriate use or development. This may include archaeological sites and sites or areas of cultural significance to iwi.

It is generally not quarrying itself that is of particular concern to tāngata whenua, but how quarrying has the potential to impact on things that are valued by them. Such impacts can include earthworks or developments near ancestral sites (including an urupa – burial ground), discharges to water potentially compromising the mauri (spirit / life force) or compromising the integrity of, or access to, food resources (mahinga kai).

The relationship of tāngata whenua with the coastal environment is explained further in the coastal development guidance note and a wider list of activities of concern to tāngata whenua is available in the consultation for resource consents guidance note.

Methods to manage the effects on cultural and historic heritage values

There are a number of methods that can be used to manage the effects on cultural and historic heritage values. These range from the identification of cultural and historic sites through to the use and inclusion of consultation mechanisms and resource consent conditions.

Policies relating to archaeological and wāhi tapu sites

Most plans address the management of archaeological and wāhi tapu sites through policies managing activities and potential effects on known archaeological and wāhi tapu sites. Sites and areas are typically identified on maps or schedules and restrictions or specific considerations are given to the potential for activities to have an impact on identified sites.

Section 15.8 of the Kaikoura District Plan provides an example where conditions are provided to manage the effect of both permitted earthwork activities where they are not immediately adjoining a known site of significance and greater consideration of activities and conditions where they are within or in close proximity to known sites. The policies include two protocols, one recognising the input role and advice of local tāngata whenua when operating within a known wāhi tapu site, and the second provides for the procedure to follow when there is an accidental uncovering of unidentified archaeological sites, archaeological areas, historic areas or wāhi tapu.

Environment Waikato’s Regional Plan rule 4.3.7.1. identifies the extraction of up to 50 cubic metres per year of sand and gravel within selected river beds within the region as a permitted activity subject to the activity not disturbing any identified archaeological site or wāhi tapu except where Historic Places Trust approval has been obtained. Where an unidentified wāhi tapu is disturbed, the activity shall cease insofar as it may affect the wāhi tapu and the Waikato Regional Council shall be notified as soon as practicable. The activity shall not be recommenced without the approval of the Waikato Regional Council. Under section 2.3.4.22, Environment Waikato has a number of criteria it must consider, including ascertaining tāngata whenua interests and values (including metaphysical values), after appropriate consultation with tāngata whenua  who are kaitiaki for that site, or any archaeological, historical or scientific evidence before providing approval to continue.

Refer to the Historic Heritage guidance note for further information on the duties and considerations for cultural and historic values in plans.

Consultation policies and agreements

A number of plans recognise the role and relationship with tāngata whenua through specific consultation policies or agreements. These can be associated with general policies on wāhi tapu sites such as policy 6.6.7 of the Manakau District Plan which requires active consultation with tāngata whenua  where activities have the potential to adversely affect taonga or tāngata whenua’s relationship with taonga. This policy is achieved through the resource consent process, contracted services and an agreement of understanding with tāngata whenua authorities.

The Kaikoura District Plan also provides an example where the council has clearly set out situations where tāngata whenua must be involved in the RMA process. Section 15.2.2 includes policies that require the council to:

  • forward summaries of any resource consent applications for any activity within, adjacent to, or impacting directly on Mt Uwerau or Lake Rotorua to Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu
  • have due regard to the statutory acknowledgments of Mt Uwerau or Lake Rotorua in deciding whether Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu is an affected party in respect of any resource consent applications for activities within, adjacent to, or impacting directly on Mt Uwerau or Lake Rotorua
  • develop in conjunction with Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, a protocol for consultation in respect of resource consent applications

See consultation on resource consents and facilitating consultation with tāngata whenua for further details on consultation with tāngata whenua in plan and resource consent processes and details on statutory acknowledgements and other similar agreements between councils and tāngata whenua .

Cultural impact assessments and cultural value reports

Cultural impact assessments (CIA) can be used to provide information to applicants and councils on the potential effects of a proposed quarry on cultural values. Although not always a statutory requirement, a CIA can help identify issues early on in the development of a proposal and provide information to councils in considering how Part 2 RMA matters have been addressed. CIAs are typically paid for by the applicant as part of the information forming their application.

Cultural value reports are slightly different as they generally do not directly consider quarrying or its impacts but rather identify and describe values pertaining to an area or resource. Cultural value reports may address broad level impacts of development in the area and can help identify what the relevant issues may be and how these should best be addressed.

See the FAQs on cultural impact assessments for further information and an example of a CIA relating to a discharge in a coastal marine area and a cultural values report prepared for Environment Canterbury relating to the Wairau River.

Quarry management plans – cultural and historic heritage values

Quarry management plans (QMPs) may be imposed as a condition of consent or as a standard in a plan, and include detailed management procedures to help the applicant, council, tāngata whenua  and the Historic Places Trust (where relevant) to deal with cultural effects of quarrying, in particular the disturbance of wāhi tapu. Both the Friedlander Road Quarry – Operational Compliance Plan and Waingaro Road Quarry – Operational Compliance Plan outline procedures to follow on the discovery of archaeological or skeletal remains.

A QMP may also be beneficial in establishing an ongoing relationship with tāngata whenua over the operation of quarrying activities and effects. The Three Kings Quarry – Quarry Management Plan provides an example where a consultation protocol is established to enable a site liaisons group, comprising representatives from Auckland City Council and the local community, to discuss issues with a quarry.

Also see the general methods section on quarry management plans for guidance on how these plans can be used to address a wide range of environmental effects through regional and/or district plans and resource consent conditions.

Back to effects and methods table

Best practice examples

Given the differing nature, pressures and effects of quarrying around New Zealand, practices reflecting the planning and management of adverse effects vary. A number of examples of approaches and methods used by councils are highlighted in the Assessing and providing appropriate access to aggregate resources and Quarry resource management issues, effects and methods sections .

Other specific examples of best practice are included below.

Integrated approach to identifying and managing quarrying

The FutureProof Growth Strategy and Implementation Plan, Waikato Regional Policy Statement (also see the Proposed Change Number 2 – Future Proof) and the Waikato District Plan Operative in Part, provide an example of integrated plans that all recognise and provide for quarrying and its effects, across regional and territorial authority plans.

This approach identifies strategic issues and pressures in the region. Access to aggregate resources and the adverse effects of quarrying are considered alongside the provisions for growth including transport and infrastructure planning, which has been integrated into the district plan.

Provision for potential future aggregate resources

A number of plans recognise the need to provide for access to significant aggregate resources in the future and the need to limit incompatible activities in these areas. This is generally achieved through the resource consent process and considerations. However, the Waikato District Plan (partially operative) example goes further in using a set of specific criteria to identify which resources require additional consideration as opposed to giving protection to all potential aggregate resources. Although this approach is relatively new and yet to be tested in operation, it provides more specific identification and consideration of certain aggregate resources. This, in turn, gives more certainty to landowners and quarry operators.

Quarry management plans

Although not always a formal requirement (ie, through a policy or consent condition), Quarry Management Plans are a useful way to outline a range of operational details relating to the use and management of aspects of sites. In particular, the Three Kings Quarry – Quarry Management Plan provides for periodical meetings of a site liaison group consisting of the quarry operator, council and local community representatives. During these regular and ongoing meetings matters associated with the operation of the quarry which affect the community or of mutual interest are discussed.

Application forms for mines and quarries

Environment Waikato provides a number of consent application forms , including one for small and large-scale mining and quarrying activities. The form covers all the associated discharges to air, water and land from quarrying and provides useful guidance on what to include in an application at the outset. The form also requires information on water take and overburden placement and provides a comprehensive guideline of what to include in the assessment of environmental effects for applications relating to quarrying operations. 

Guidelines and education material for quarrying

An example of guidelines to help applicants and the industry manage the effects of extraction is the River Gravel Management Guidelines produced by Environment Bay of Plenty. These guidelines provide useful reference material on gravel management and are intended to be used for education, to complement the regulatory controls in the River Gravel Management Plan, and to lead to environmental improvement. The guidelines include background information on gravel sources and processes, principles to manage adverse effects and operational guidelines for extraction and associated monitoring and reporting. 

The Greater Wellington Regional Council has guidance on the extraction of gravel and shingle on its website. This provides information on the rules and activity class of extraction across coastal, river and inland environments.

Challenges in practice

Identifying and developing potential resources

Two key challenges face providing future access to aggregate resources. The first challenge is obtaining information on the location of, and the demand for, aggregate resources. Undertaking research to identify aggregate resources can be an expensive process particularly for smaller councils. Often the need to identify and provide appropriate access to aggregate resources is balanced against the demand and availability of resources in an area, and the access to resources with regard to incompatible land uses. Regions can play an important role in working with territorial authorities to support the appropriate identification and access to resources, and taking into account regional considerations over a longer timeframe.

The second challenge is the provision of appropriate access to future sites which needs to balance the provision of suitable opportunities for quarrying far enough into the future, against a limited knowledge and certainty of where and when future quarrying sites may emerge, which is ultimately a decision of commercial enterprise. This makes planning challenging especially where determining the weight and approach to provide for longer term access by placing constraints on private landowners. However, without undertaking this process there is a danger that securing future aggregate needs will come at an increased social and environmental cost. Refer to the Provision for potential future aggregate resources in the best practice section and assessing and providing appropriate access to aggregate resources for further discussion.

Future use of quarries

Old quarries are increasingly being used for a range of ancillary industrial activities such as cleanfill sites making positive use of sites often strategically located to transport routes and urban areas. An example is the Mt Wellington Quarry which is now a new commercial and residential area, or the Puketutu Island Quarry which is also operating as a cleanfill site. However, the ability to plan for the use of sites can be limited where it is an existing use, and plans to remediate the site may not be a condition on the use of the site unless part of the original authorisation of the activity. However, the future use of quarries should be considered where new quarries are established as appropriate. This may include ongoing remediation of the site as works progress or a condition providing for a remediation plan to be submitted at  a certain time and updated over the life of the consent.

Roading contributions

The effects on traffic from a proposed quarry development are often a resource consent consideration. This includes the general wear and tear from heavy vehicle use on the council’s roading assets. Some councils address this by way of a specific financial contribution levied under the RMA or the LGA, but the way in which this contribution is calculated can vary significantly between different councils. This is because there are a number of factors that need to be considered when determining when roading contributions should be required and what their appropriate level is. These factors include:

  • the road damage from the additional loadings above what would occur anyway
  • the type of road and whether it should be able to absorb the additional truck movements
  • the role of public roading agencies (ie, councils and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA)) in providing heavy haulage routes
  • the wider public good benefit from any roading upgrade and who should pay for these wider benefits
  • whether roading contributions should be an upfront payment or an ongoing levy.

Collectively, these factors make calculating the appropriate roading contribution for a proposed quarry a challenging task and one which will generally require input from industry and technical specialists. Refer to some matters to consider for calculating roading contributions for a more detailed discussion. Also see case law on quarry traffic.    

Methods to offset adverse ecological effects

Often aggregate resources are located within areas of indigenous habitat or of high natural value. Where it is not possible to avoid the removal of vegetation or disturbance of ecology, restoration or protection of a natural habitat elsewhere can, in some instances, be an appropriate method to offset unavoidable adverse ecological effects. However, determining the appropriateness of offset methods, including its form (such as habitat establishment, restoration, or protection), is a challenging task. This issue is exacerbated when there is a lack of guidance in the plan as to the appropriate methods to offset ecological effects. See Indigenous biodiversity and ‘Biodiversity offsets – An overview of Selected recent developments: New Zealand – where to from here? (Andrew Lloyd Lawyers, 2007).

 

Relevant case law

Significance of the aggregate resource

Golden Bay Cement v Whangarei District Council [2005] (A15/2005) : This decision noted the regional and national importance of a quarry resource and its authorised externalisation of effects. The decision only allowed the furthermost part of an adjoining land parcel to be rezoned from rural to residential due to the potential reverse sensitivity effects it would cause on the quarry.

Brookby Quarries Limited v Manukau City Council [2006] (A153/2006): This decision allowed a quarry proposal to increase truck movements by applying mitigation measures to address effects on residents. The case also highlighted the positive benefits of the proposal in making efficient use of the resource and enabling local supply of aggregate to meet demand in the Auckland region.

Waireka Valley Preservation Society Inc v Waitaki District Council [2009] (C058/09 and C127/08): This decision found in favour of an application for a cement plant after considering iwi cultural issues, landscape effects, historic heritage, economic effects and tourism against the positive effects including enhancement and diversification of the local economy and population, work and wealth generation, and flow-on regional benefits.

Planning for the aggregate resource

Roads Metals Company Limited v Christchurch City Council and Canterbury Regional Council [2006] (C163/2006) : This decision raised issues over the insufficient timeframe allowed for planning future aggregate supply within the Christchurch area after a proposal to extend an existing quarry face into adjoining properties (with different zoning), made the activity non-complying.

The Court considered that, based on a Regional Gravel Report produced by the Canterbury Regional Council, there were some serious issues concerning the source for the future supply of aggregate for the region and it suggested the planning timeframes for aggregates was insufficient. The Court stated that, given the lead-in time for developments and the need for certainty for infrastructural development, a planning horizon of 50 to 100 years for aggregate resources is more appropriate (than the 20 years identified in the report).

Winstone Aggregates v Rodney District Council [2009] (A054/09) : This decision identified plan provisions which recognise an area as having value as both a mineral resource and a significant natural area. The decision recognises the tension between both matters of importance, identifying vegetation removal to obtain access to undertake mineral extraction as a restricted discretionary activity. The Court considered the proposed provisions were a reasonable response to the resource management issues arising from mineral extraction in the significant natural area as they made broad considerations available to council to address the effects of vegetation removal.    

Existing use rights

Existing use rights in the context of quarrying are important, as councils have been known to respond differently to the expansion of existing quarries when deciding whether resource consents are required.

Russell v Manukau City Council [1996] NZRMA 35: This decision highlighted that it is the effects of the use rather than the use itself that is relevant in determining whether an activity remains the same or similar in character, intensity and scale.

The Court concluded that reasonable evolution of the activity is permitted, but it cannot alter to the point that the activity becomes something different altogether, ie, the relativity of the similarity of character, intensity and scale to what it was before it changed, considering each point mutually exclusive of each other.

Omya New Zealand Limited v Selwyn District Council (C123/2003): This case involved a declaration as to whether the company, Omya, could rely on existing use rights under s10 of the RMA to continue to mine an area that extended over two properties where mining had not been continuous and there had been no mining undertaken on one property at all. It was found that while only part of the land was actively mined, the fact that the balance of the land was held in reserve and intended for future use did not change the fact that, in law, the whole of the land was used for mining and retained its existing use rights.

Reverse sensitivity and internalisation of effects

Winstone Aggregates Limited v Papakura District Council (A096/98) : This appeal addressed the extent to which the environment should be protected from the adverse effects of quarrying; and the extent to which quarrying and its extraction sites, as natural and physical resources, should be protected from the adverse effects of incompatible activities.

The Court stated that in controlling undesirable effects, territorial authorities should impose restrictions to internalise adverse effects as much as is reasonably possible. Restrictions on other sites are only appropriate when the effects of an activity cannot be controlled by restrictions aimed at internalisation.

The Court established that local authorities have the jurisdiction to provide a buffer zone to provide for reverse sensitivity where it has reasonably internalised the duty to avoid, remedy and mitigate adverse effects and is consistent with the overall functions and obligations of the territorial authority. In this case, while the Court was not opposed to the use of a buffer, it was not certain that all reasonable measures had first been implemented to internalise adverse effects within the quarry site.

Winstone Aggregates Ltd v Auckland Regional Council (A113/02) [June 2002]: This was a further interim decision where a consent order approved provisions which ensured important aggregate resources of the district were not compromised by other sensitive land uses.

Winstone Aggregates v Matamata-Piako District Council (W055/04) : In this case, the Court cautioned against a view that “reverse sensitivity” consequences should necessarily be avoided by constraint on sensitive new activities. The first principle should be that the activity causing the effects should internalise them as much as it is practical to do so. To justify constraints on land adjoining an effects emitting site, the industry must be of some considerable economic or social significance locally, regionally or nationally. 

In this case, the Court found there could be little doubt that the regional importance of the resource, the impracticality of internalising all noise effects and the vulnerability of the quarry to reverse sensitivity pressures, justified controls on subdivision and erection of dwellings in a carefully delineated buffer zone. The Court considered the appropriate restrictions to protect industry should be in the form of discretionary or restricted discretionary activity status for subdivision or residential activity.

For more information on case law relating to reverse sensitivity see the article Reverse Sensitivity – the Common Law Giveth, and the RMA Taketh Away and some other key cases specifically relating to reverse sensitivity and noise

Consent conditions – timeframes

Huntly Quarries Ltd v Waikato Regional Council [2008] A010/08: Decision to extend Huntly Quarries granted consent term of 25 years to 35 years, the maximum permitted by section 123(d). The Environment Court allowed the appeal on the basis that:

  • the consent conditions would effectively manage the environmental effects over the term of the consent (while there have been instances of non-compliance in the past the applicant has demonstrated commitment to operate in accordance with the consent conditions)
  • the receiving environment was not sensitive and is being managed to avoid adversely affecting the local community
  • the effects are variable depending on both operational factors and weather conditions but are addressed by the conditions of consent
  • the quarry was a considerable resource and the applicant was entitled to reasonable certainty and security which should be reflected in the term of the consents.

See the Resource consent conditions guidance note for other relevant case law on consent conditions.

No complaints covenants

South Pacific Tyres NZ Ltd v Powerland (NZ) Ltd [2008](CIV427/08) : This case involved a summary judgement against Powerland who agreed to and then later attempted to cancel a no complaints covenant. The Court considered it was apparent from case law that participants could freely waive their rights to participate under the RMA, especially in cases where the developer obtained direct benefit from doing so. The Court also found such covenants were not contrary to public policy. Therefore, the covenant was upheld in favour of South Pacific Tyres as being valid and enforceable and the Court made an order to that effect. 

Ngatarawa Development Trust Limited v Hastings District Council [2008](W017/08): This decision involved declining consents with no complaints covenants. Whereas the covenant was valid, the Court noted that such covenants were not a “panacea for reverse sensitivity issues”. Although no complaint covenants are a useful measure to address secondary effects, they are not a complete answer to reverse sensitivity and should not sway the consent authority’s overall broad judgment in favour of an application.   

For more information on case law relevant to no complaint covenants see the Bell Gully article on no complaints covenants and the Reverse Sensitivity – Are No Complaints Instruments a Solution? article from the New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law.    

Traffic

Winstone Aggregates v Franklin District Council [2002](7NZED442): This case considered the extent to which consent authorities and the Court had the power to control the movements of vehicles on a public road due to a proposed condition that limited both the destination and maximum tonnage of aggregate transported per year.

The Court held a consent authority has (a limited) jurisdiction to control the manner in which a public road is used to control effects on the environment. The Court established the volume, rate, hours and route of heavy vehicle movements had the potential to cause adverse effects on the area in the immediate vicinity of the quarry. Therefore, the consent condition limiting the destination and amount of aggregate transported out of the site were valid to mitigate the effects of traffic on residents of the area.  

The Court also held it was both legally valid and enforceable for quarry owners to monitor truck movements and that Winstone was required, and had the ability to, accurately monitor and record all vehicle movements to and from the quarry including destinations and routes used. The Court considered this monitoring could be carried out through any contractual relationship the quarry operator had with other companies.

Pike River Coal Limited v Grey District Council [2006] (C173/06) and Pike River Coal Limited v Grey District Council [2007] (C060/07): This interim decision focused on how far the Court should go in setting conditions of consent in relation to the use of public roads and properties affected by the traffic movements that are some distance from a mining site.

The Court granted consent for the alternative route subject to confirmation of conditions to provide reasonable protection to the residential communities along the route. The Court gave directions the hours of operation and number of vehicles should be the primary method to manage the noise effects from the traffic but there should be sufficient flexibility in those restrictions. Other methods include the use of an alternative route for emergency purposes, the distance for noise assessment, acoustic insulation timeframes and traffic movements, hours and recording of traffic movements.

RMA provisions

RMA provisions identified below can be viewed through the following link.

Section 2:        Interpretation – best practicable option
Section 10:      Certain existing uses in relation to land protected
Section 15:      Discharge of contaminants into environment
Section 16:      Duty to avoid unreasonable noise
Section 17:      Duty to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects     
Section 20A:   Certain existing lawful activities allowed
Section 30:      Functions of regional councils under this Act
Section 31:      Functions of territorial authorities under this Act
Section 35       Duty to gather information, monitor, and keep records
Section 60:      Preparation and change of regional policy statements
Section 64:      Preparation and change of regional coastal plans
Section 65:      Preparation and change of other regional plans
Section 73:      Preparation and change of district plans
Section 91:      Deferral pending application for additional consents
Section 104:    Consideration of applications
Section 108:    Conditions of resource consent
Section 109:    Special provisions in respect of bonds or covenants

Other provisions

Local Government Act 2002 – LTCCPs (Section 93–97)

Relevant publications

New Zealand documents and websites

Overseas documents and websites

Key terms, definitions and concepts

Definitions are provided in the context of aggregates and quarrying only.

  • Aggregate: Particles of crushed rock, sand or gravel.
  • Best practicable option: As defined in the s2 of the RMA.
  • Blasting: The detonation of explosives to break rock.
  • Offsetting: Undertaking actions to compensate for adverse environmental effects that cannot be avoided after appropriate mitigation measures have been taken.
  • Overburden: Material, whether consolidated or not, that has to be removed before a mineral can be worked.
  • Recycled aggregate: Aggregate resulting from the processing of inorganic material, previously used in construction.
  • Screening: The separation of solid materials of different sizes by causing part to remain on a surface provided with apertures through which the remainder passes.
  • Quarry: An open pit or excavation from which stone, sand, gravel or mineral is extracted.

Refer to the Dictionary of Quarrying Terms for more definitions relating to quarrying.

Acknowledgements

This guidance note was initiated by the Aggregate and Quarry Association of New Zealand (AQANZ) in partnership with the Ministry for the Environment and Local Government New Zealand.

The note was prepared by Mark St Clair, Jerome Wyeth and Rachel Pinson from Hill Young Cooper Limited, and was further shaped and reviewed by:

  • Hamish McGillivray and Amanda Moran, Ministry for the Environment
  • Irene Clarke, Local Government New Zealand
  • Allan Turner, Waikato District Council
  • Blair Dickie, Environment Waikato
  • Fraser McRae, Otago Regional Council
  • Jonathan Streat, Auckland Regional Council
  • Keri-Davis Millar, Christchurch City Council
  • Nick Williamson, Whangarei District Council
  • Steve Markham, Tasman District Council
  • James Boyce, Holcim New Zealand
  • Mike Lord, Perry Group
  • Jonathan Green, Fulton Hogan
  • Kevin Bligh, Winstone Aggregates

The Ministry for the Environment would also like to thank the following people for:
The peer review of this material:

  • Brett McKay – Wellington City Council
  • Graeme Hansen – Hawke’s Bay Regional Council
  • Joy La Nauze – Papakura District Council
  • Marian Whitehead – Papakura District Council

The editorial review of the material:

  • Jan Crawford, Planning Consultants Ltd
  • Robert Schofield, Boffa Miskell Ltd.

This guidance note was published in March 2010.

 

Tier 2 information

The varying nature of quarrying

Effects of quarries vary by their nature (rock or sand), scale of operation, whether they are in short- or long-term use, in continuous use or used irregularly or seasonally.

Quarrying involves the excavation of rock, gravel or sand from the ground (including river beds and beaches). Rock-won aggregate is typically produced through drilling and blasting it from suitable rock deposits, and crushing and screening it to the desired size.

Gravels and sand are normally sourced from river beds (both current and old) and from beaches. Excavation typically involves machinery, without the need for blasting. Crushing of gravel is usually limited to larger gravels while screening is used to separate out smaller sizes for specific uses. Aggregate products requiring further refinement can often involve additional washing, crushing and screening processes.

The uses of rock aggregate range from road preparation and finishing (base and surface) to composite for concrete. Gravel and sand aggregates are similarly used for road and construction products but also have a range of specialty landscaping uses. Refer to relevant publications for further information on quarrying.

Challenges to quarrying

A number of other factors that make planning for quarrying challenging include:

  • aggregate is a fixed and finite resource, often found in locations where extraction conflicts with other values (eg, river beds used for recreational purposes, or uplifted rock with high visual and ecological values)
  • an incomplete knowledge of the location, scale and nature of aggregate resources and the high costs to obtain this information 
  • the benefits of locating aggregate resources close to the source of demand (ie, urban areas) due to the high costs of transporting aggregates and associated road damage
  • the negative perceptions of quarries and their effects and the high potential for opposition to established and new quarries
  • there is also no certainty as to where future quarry operations could actually take place. 

A proactive and collaborative approach between councils, industry, tāngata whenua and landowners can help overcome some of these challenges.

Considerations when identifying future aggregate resources

There are a number of different factors that need to be considered when identifying future aggregate resources. For example, the proximity of the resource to demand will be a key factor determining both the economic viability of extraction and the associated adverse effects (eg, road damage and noise associated with transport).

Criteria for the assessment of aggregate resources might include:

  • the nature and likely sensitivity of the surrounding land uses to quarries
  • the density of the surrounding land uses. Is there likely to be a high number of people adversely affected?
  • the proximity of the resource to the source of demand.  Is this likely to change over the foreseeable future?
  • the condition of the transport routes to the resources.  How close is the resource to state highways? 
  • if there are high ecological values associated with the area.  Are these values unique or widespread across the district or region?
  • any cultural values associated with the area. Are there any known or suspected wāhi tapu sites?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 [V1]Link to tier 2 page which has the sections on ‘the varying nature of quarrying’, ‘challenges to quarrying’, ‘considerations when identifying future aggregate resources’.

 [V2]these links are from the coastal guidance note which  isn’t on the website do remove these links

 [V3]Provide links to the tier 2 information from each of the issues/effect

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