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

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

The approach to managing the effects of quarrying and gravel extraction is fairly common across plans, and many have objectives and policies that aim to avoid, remedy or mitigate the effects of these activities. The objectives and policies can be general in nature or tailored specifically to quarrying and/or gravel extraction activities. For example, general objectives and policies could be developed to manage all noise effects, and reference to quarrying and gravel extraction 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 achieved 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 and gravel extraction activities. These might apply to quarrying and gravel extraction within a particular zone or area (i.e. specific areas of individual rivers), or across the entire region and/or district.

Objectives and policies to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects

Policies 13.4.1(1) and (3) of the Auckland Council 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 and gravel extraction.

Chapter 14 Disturbance, Deposition and Extraction of the  Bay of Plenty Regional Council’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.