The process of partially filling in the void that was Hornsby Quarry using spoil from the excavation of the North Connex road tunnel has been completed. Hornsby Council is now planning the next stage to create a recreation area that comprises Old Man’s Valley below the swimming pool, the Quarry and its surrounding area.
Some of the steep sides of the Quarry, particularly the northern side, are unstable and could collapse in a major rainfall event so rehabilitation works are required. Reshaping of the North Connex fill is proposed, as well as other spoil mounds within the site to allow future development of the quarry into a parkland for community use. These works have to go through a Development Application (DA) process including consideration of public submissions.
Hornsby Council has undertaken public consultation using public displays of the plans and put documents on exhibition. There are futuristic illustrations of the potential use of the site but this level of detail will be in the next stage of consultation.
On 6 May the Sydney North Planning Panel conducted a hearing into Hornsby Council’s DA for the works of Hornsby Quarry. Some individuals and community groups made submissions explaining their serious concerns about some aspects of the proposed works.
STEP, Protect your Suburban Environment (PYSE) and the Powerful Owl Coalition’s submissions drew attention to shortcomings revealed in some key documents.
- The agreement document for a biodiversity offsets package was not available. It was totally unclear how biodiversity offsets under the Biodiversity Conservation Trust were applicable to the project.
- A preliminary Vegetation Management Plan was provided but lacked the detail required for works on such a large and diverse site. Its link with the offsets package was also missing.
- How the Blue Gum High Forest Save Our Species Priority Management Sites in the south western side of the site will be affected by the works.
Representatives from three geological societies made several submissions about the lack of recognition of the scientific significance of the volcanic diatreme rockface that is exposed by the quarry excavation. The outcomes of the final filling and landscape works on the floor of the quarry were not explained so it is not clear how much of the rock face would remain visible.
The people who had made submissions were delighted with the result. The Panel noted that several key issues of significant public interest were unresolved, and the development’s conditions did not provide necessary certainty of the outcomes for the Panel or for the public.
The Panel deferred the application so that the following processes can be completed:
- Provide detail of the Biodiversity Offsets Package, Vegetation Management Plan and Habitat Creation and Enhancement Plans and submit these documents for public exhibition.
- Submit a plan for public consultation defining and managing a buffer zone during the rehabilitation works around the Powerful Owl breeding pair’s roosting tree.
- The information about extent of the volcanic diatreme rock face exposure when the filling and creation of the lake and wetland in front of the face have been completed.
Another process of consultation will occur when the required documents are completed.
A subsequent visit by Geological Society of Australia members with council officers provided an indication that there is likely to be more of the diatreme rock face exposed, not less. So good news.