Royalla residents say the region’s fourth proposed quarry is not only unnecessary but also poses a health and environmental risk to anyone living within a 17 km radius.
Caroline Bradly, who lives in Royalla not far from the Williamsdale Quarry, knows first-hand the impact dust from a quarry can have on an individual’s health.
She was not diagnosed with asthma until she moved to her current location.
“I have had a number of health scares, and I do live in constant fear that this could develop into something more serious,” she said.
According to the Royalla Quarry Opposition‘s estimates, there are 18 schools within 17 km of the proposed site, and Tuggeranong suburbs like Calwell and Theodore are less than 2 km away.
“We want the community to understand that it’s not just people living in Royalla who are going to be affected, there’s actually a much broader reach,” Ms Bradly said.
Those who live closest will see, hear and feel the impacts of the quarry, she says, including the vibrations and noise from blasting.
Proposed routes for trucks are also of concern.
“Either we are putting extra trucks on Old Cooma Road, where children wait for school buses, which is already a road in poor condition, or onto the Monaro Highway, which is already under stress.
“The other option is these trucks travel along quiet cul-de-sacs in residential areas like Royalla and Googong,” she said.
However, what’s more of concern for Ms Bradly and others in the area is the dust which can contain silica.
Silica, she explained, has been likened to the new asbestos as it can cause respiratory issues.
“It can stay in the air for up to 12 days and travel up to 16 km – particularly if it’s windy.
“What’s particularly concerning is the main way that quarries control dust is through water. The companies have already said they won’t be trucking water in, but the only other option is to use the local supply, which is already under stress,” she explained.
In 2020, at the height of the drought, bores in the area were running dry and farmers couldn’t water their crops.
They’ve also pointed out that the quarry will be the fourth in the region (within a 10 km radius) and the others are not yet at 50 per cent capacity.
Ms Bradly said the group’s understanding is that these other quarries already have enough rock aggregate to service the region for the next 70 years.
“This is all about greed. There is no real need to have another quarry at all,” she added.
Ms Bradly said the quarry is proposed in what is a unique environmental area – a box gum grassy woodland. Royalla is also home to several endangered or critically endangered species like the swift parrot and is likely to be put under stress by the quarry, explains the group.
The proposed quarry is a joint venture between Monaro Mix and Pacific Framework. The companies ran a community consultation on 17 April which residents say they were unprepared for as they weren’t given adequate warning.
“People didn’t get a lot of notice, and they were understandably angry and upset on the day,” Ms Bradly said.
The project’s principal environmental consultant Nick Warren from RW Corkery and Monaro Rock Group operations manager John Patterson both declined to comment on the concerns raised by residents at this stage.
A statement from Mr Patterson said that while Monaro Rock is listening to the feedback and concerns raised by the community, they will be unable to comment until the Environmental Impact Statement is complete and submitted to the NSW Government.
The quarry is still in the preliminary stages of planning.
Residents in the area say they have contacted NSW and ACT Ministers and believe both state governments and more local communities need to be involved.