Sunday, June 5, 2011
The Big Hole In Our Backyard
There was an open day at the Three Kings Quarry on 7 May, 2010. We've only ever leaned up against the hurricane fence in the Eiffel en Eden carpark and look down into the quarry, so took the opportunity to see it from a different perspective. It is one enormous hole.
This goodwill building exercise on behalf of quarry owners Winstone was promoted as a fun family day, with plenty of heavy machinery to look at, climb on and sometimes have a go at, as well as free food, coffee and prizes. The serious stuff was inside a marquee: aerial maps of the quarry and surrounding area, leaflets and video on the workings of the quarry operation.
We spent quite a bit of time in the tent, and outside, but not once were we approached by anyone giving out forms.
Now we find out that after several years and promises that blasting had finished at Three Kings, Winstone Aggregates are starting a blasting programme next month which will continue for a year. It was reported in The Herald that forms about this were distributed at the open day. Maybe they'd run out by the time we got there...
The blasting is required, say Winstone, to level the floor of the quarry. Why it is necessary to do that was a question not answered at Monday's Site Liason Group meeting. However, Joel Cayford in his Reflections on Auckland Planning blog has an interesting take on the possible reason: "Mr Chote did not go on to explain why the floor needed to be leveled. But I can guess. It will make it easier to engineer a structurally robust fill, not subject to differential settlement - because it will be even - and so more valuable for building because it will support medium density and more. There was no information presented about the future use. However it makes sense to maximise that value for the shareholder (Fletchers). Steps are being taken to plan for this longer term future...." There is also excellent additional reportage on the meeting.
There is also concern that when Winstone do fill the quarry, they won't use cleanfill, which could result in contaminants leaching into the natural aquifer under the quarry. Save Auckland's Underground Water From Pollution is a Facebook page dedicated to this issue. Like.
We'll be watching (and hearing no doubt) what Winstone Aggregates get up to at the quarry over the next few months.