Our nation is due to reach five million people this year and, as we enter a new decade, it’s a strong reminder to councils that they must plan to provide local supplies of aggregate. By Wayne Scott, CEO, Aggregate and Quarry Association.
As 2020 started, Marlborough District Council CEO Mark Wheeler voiced comments that other councils around the country are echoing.
He says 2019 saw more responsibilities from central Government heaped onto councils and often with little or no national funding, adding to the challenges of dealing with the issues of a growing community.
You’ll be well aware that on the back of National Planning Standards released in 2019, the Government issued a Resource Strategy for the next decade; it is also now consulting on National Policy statements on Urban Planning, Freshwater, Indigenous Biodiversity and Highly Productive Land.
Each of these represent significant change and all will put additional pressure on city, district and regional councils for planning and the approval processes for development.
Not least, councils will need to consider the availability and access to locally supplied aggregates and sand.
Councils are, of course, themselves heavily reliant on handily sourced aggregate resources for their own roading programmes, flood protection and infrastructure repair following disasters as well as any of their own major building projects and any council-driven land or housing developments.
All of these are essential for the social, economic and cultural well-being of communities and nothing is built without aggregate be it public or private sector.
Our country needs a secure supply of high-quality aggregate materials to meet the Government’s Urban Growth Agenda (UGA).
With our population set to rise to five million and perhaps nearly eight million by 2060, we will require approximately 1.2 million new homes to be built over the next 40 years. That’s 30,000 every year, each requiring an average of 250 tonnes of aggregate – 25 truckloads – or 7.5 million tonnes p.a.
While Government assistance will be limited, the Aggregate and Quarry Association can help councils with information on existing quarries and to identify potential future aggregate sources and their viability.
The AQA can help you
We have recently assisted Opotiki District Council in identifying a number of future aggregate sources which has resulted in development consents for two new quarries in Opotiki district. This work was done in response to issues surrounding supply of aggregates for a major upgrade to Opotiki Harbour, which had not been considered in initial planning for the project.
The result was a significant ‘blow-out’ in budget, some of which was a result of poor planning around the supply of aggregates.
We have seen the same issue arise with other major projects such as the Transmission Gully Road project near Wellington.
In addition to identifying future aggregate resources in the Opotiki region, this exercise has enabled Opotiki council to assess its aggregate needs over the next decade and better plan for their availability and supply to the wider Bay of Plenty region.
Last year saw a ground shift by Government with its Resource Strategy. It clearly states;“We need to make sure we have the aggregate (crushed rock and stone) required, or alternative replacement material, to build the foundations of our houses and roads.”
The strategy also references the AQA’s own calculations that transporting aggregate, rock and sand sees the cost double in the first 30 kilometre; “which is why it’s important that quarries are located near their end users.”
The AQA now needs to work with local authorities to rope off key resource areas and enable their development.
Our industry and councils need to protect existing quarries from encroachment of non-compatible land uses such as housing, reduce reverse sensitivity potential and enable the development of new greenfield aggregate resources.
Planning also needs to be more enabling so resource consents are quicker to obtain and less costly.
We are not seeking a carte blanche; the AQA supports strong environmental conditions but currently, even with appropriate planning zones and controls, it is often more than three to five years from starting a consenting process to quarries selling their first tonne of aggregate. Such timeframes do not always allow for the industry to meet demands from large infrastructure projects and building growth.
This simply means aggregates are often sourced from further away at significant cost to ratepayers, homeowners or industries.
As we start a new decade, I urge councils to contact the Aggregate and Quarry Association and let’s start a process which plans for lower council and community roading, housing and infrastructure costs – with all appropriate environmental conditions – into the future.
We are available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published in the February 2020 issue of Local Government Magazine.