The environment is at no risk from the workings of an illegal quarry at Maungatautari, a Waikato Regional Council incident response officer has told the man who alerted the council to its existence.
In an email to complainant Rhys Powell last week, Shantelle Bromell said the regional council has taken “no sanction action” despite finding a minor breach on the day her team visited the site south of Cambridge.
And in a further related development, Waipā District Council this week decided not to replace former district councillor Elwyn Andree-Wiltens, who resigned last month after The News revealed she was a shareholder in the quarry which mined sand commercially for several years without a resource consent.
Her annual $33,834 remuneration package will be redistributed among deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk and other councillors until the October local body elections.
Powell urged the regional council to conduct a forensic investigation at the quarry site after Bromell told him: “There were no risks to the environment and no evidence of sediment discharge to water or any wetlands.”
All the earthworks occurred within a ‘pit’ with no additional risk of run-off of sediment from the site, she said.
“Advice was given regarding the installation of erosion sediment controls on one side of the excavation area, as a precaution only.
“Subsequent enquiries and an assessment of the works carried out found a minor breach but with no immediate environmental effects,” Bromell said in the email.
Beacon Hill has applied to Waipā District Council for a land use consent to operate four sand quarries at Oreipunga Road. The company has also applied for two consents from the regional council which would retrospectively authorise the sand quarrying activities and make the activities “lawful,” said Bromell.
Powell, who is opposing the establishment of a quarry on the southern outskirts of Cambridge because he says it will create huge health, environmental and cultural problems, is adamant the regional council has missed the point with the Maungatautari quarry.
“Mining can actually create accelerated erosion in some areas,” he said.
“What sort of message are Waikato Regional Council trying to send here for companies/landowners that purposely avoid applying for a resource consent and then the regional council does absolutely nothing?”
Both the Waipā and Waikato Regional councils’ websites have published the consent applications but with no indication around whether any hearings will be held.
Meanwhile Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest has exercised his mayoral powers and appointed himself to chair the Maungatautari Reserve Committee which Andree-Wiltens previously chaired.
Other councillors will pick up the additional work her resignation created. Deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk and Cr Mike Pettit will attend Cambridge Community Board meetings; Crs Clare St Pierre and Roger Gordon will become part of the Heritage Advisory Sub-Group and Crs Susan O’Regan and Grahame Webber will make themselves available to Maungatautari ward residents.