Controversy at Cowsh-t Corner**
**(The local name for corner adjacent to the proposed alternate access for the Mackas Sand mine, so named because a dairy farm drove it’s milking cows across the road here in the past, and it was notorious for vehicles sliding off the road through the sh-t!)
70 to 80 people turned out for the NSW Planning Assessment Commission Hearing on the Mackas Sand Project Modification 1 at Medowie Dunes Golf Club on Thursday 19 September 2013. Fifteen Speakers addressed the Commission, Mr Garry Payne AM (chair) and Mr Joe Woodward PSM and all of them advocated strongly against the proposal. The meeting was attended by the proponent, Bruce Mackenzie, Mayor of Port Stephens Council and Director of Mackas Sand, but no one present spoke in favour of the proposal.
Most of the submissions were accompanied by PowerPoint presentations including maps and diagrams to illustrate their points, several used a mud-map drawn on a whiteboard, one even used some graphic video of B Double trucks crashing head on with smaller vehicles to hammer home what they saw as the consequences. The mood was passionate and the submissions held everyone’s attention for nearly three hours.
Every submission made the common point that the proposed new access route was unnecessary, because an alternative route had already been approved through Lavis Lane in 2009, and that the new proposal was only an attempt to circumvent a royalty to cross the private land owned by the Towers family on that approved access. Many submitted that it not in the public interest and was an unnecessary public risk on safety, environmental and Aboriginal cultural grounds by Mackas Sand just to save a little money.
Nigel Waters opened the proceedings with a 15 minute TRRA Submission and presentation HERE, that covered the wider aspects of the issue with some good maps to orient the viewers. He raised the main concern of TRRA regarding the inadequacy of the revised traffic report that gave the green light to the application, that was only based on 25% of the licenced output of the two Mackas sand mines, did not take into account the other mines opening up in the area and did not differentiate between large trucks, medium trucks and cars to be calculate the impact of the increase in heavy vehicle movements. The effect of the 1.5 million holidaymakers that use this road at the busy school holidays was ignored in the assessment.
The other speakers focussed on the more detailed issues as they saw them. The Towers Family was forcefully represented by their lawyer Mr Rob Mallik and Patricia Anne Towers who had travelled from Queensland to the hearing. Two speakers made submissions from the Worimi Aboriginal Community on the cultural and environmental impacts.
A number of residents from along Nelson Bay Road raised Safety concerns regarding the increase in heavy truck movements along this single lane, narrow stretch of road, about their children crossing the road to catch School busses, concern for elderly residents from the Banksia grove nursing home doing the same and some related harrowing tales of their frightening experiences with the existing large trucks already using the road, particularly on Pauls Corner Roundabout. Noise and the extended hours of operation were also raised. Concern at the proposed acceleration lane and its effect of trapping motorists between accelerating trucks and the centre guard rail was also expressed.
Kate Washington raised safety issues for her children who travelled the road to School and drew attention to the debacle created when the Mayor’s own Council was drawn into the dispute, compulsorily resumed some of the Towers Family land but was forced into a humiliating back down when faced with an 8 Million Dollar law suit for compensation. She remarked that the proposal was “An unnecessary shifting of the burden of cost onto the public to the advantage of an individual and had cost the ratepayers of Port Stephens $500,000.00 in fees already”
Mackas Sand Graphic HERE
This matter affects and concerns all residents and travellers to the Tomaree and Tilligery peninsulas, and has been covered extensively on this website in the past: HERE