Asphalt plant scheme given council’s okay

PLANS for a new asphalt plant at Hutchison Quarries, which has the potential to keep more money in the Southern Downs Regional Council's pockets and help patch up roads in a hurry, has been given the stamp of approval.

The council voted in favour of the plant, which is capable of producing up to 40,000 tonnes of asphalt a year, during, last Wednesday's general meeting.

The plant will be a mobile one, meaning it will be based at the Hutchison Quarries site near Leslie Dam, but be able to be moved to other sites if necessary.

Quarry manager Scott Hutchison told the Daily News after making the application to the council that there was a gap in the asphalt market in the region.

"The nearest existing plant to here is Toowoomba and we believe we can be very

competitive when it comes to freight costs," he said.

"Initially we would envisage producing around 10,000 tonnes of asphalt a year but hopefully this would expand, possibly up to 40,000 around the five-year mark."

The new plant is also likely to employ three extra staff.

Southern Downs director of engineering Peter See said the mobility of the site would be a useful tool for the quarry.

"There may be some advantage for emergency roadworks. However, council would assess road repairs on a case-by-case basis," he said.

Mr See acknowledged the plant had the potential to reduce costs for council as well as improve the quality of roadworks.

"The plant may have potential to reduce costs for council. However, the quarry owners would need to submit tenders as per any other interested business," he said.

"There are savings to be made due to the asphalt repair work and re-seals lasting longer than other materials."

Cr Jamie Mackenzie was not impressed with the proposed hours of operation, which allowed the plant to run from 6am-6pm Monday to Friday, 6am-12pm on Saturdays and 24 hours during times of high demands such as emergency operations.

But Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley said hours of operation should not be an issue.

"It will be very rare for them to work nights," he said.

There are 14 homes within 2km of the site and the council received five submissions against the development.

They raised issues of noise, dust, environmental impacts and devaluation of their land.

The plant was well within the Southern Downs planning scheme, but the council did put a long list of conditions in place to keep the noise and environmental impacts to a low.

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