Market forces drive use of quarry

The New Zealand Transport Agency says value for money is its overriding concern when sourcing roading materials.

That means a Saddle Hill Community Board call to stop using material from the Saddle Hill quarry is unlikely to be followed by action.

Community board chairman Scott Weatherall called on the Dunedin City Council recently to stop buying metal from the quarry to help prevent further damage to what he called a ‘‘landmark'' site.

Mr Weatherall made the suggestion as part of the board's submission to the council's 2014-15 draft annual plan, where he asked the council to ''stop all quarrying'' at the site. Quarrying on Saddle Hill has been an issue since the removal of material began in the 1950s.

The issue is before the Environment Court, which has ruled no consent exists to quarry the hill, after the council sought clarity on the issue.

Quarry operator Saddle Views Estate has appealed that decision to the High Court, an issue which will be heard next month.

The council has said it does not buy material from the quarry, although it does have ''numerous roading contracts with various contractors'', some of whom choose to use material from the quarry.

Infrastructure and networks general manager Tony Avery said last month the council had no ability under New Zealand Transport Agency rules to restrict where contractors got their materials, as long as they met relevant technical standards and come from a legal source, which the Saddle Hill quarry was.

Questioned on its stance, New Zealand Transport Agency southern agency planning and investment manager Ian McCabe said any concern arising from a local authority requesting or stipulating a certain provider not be used would centre around whether or not it demonstrated, in making that call, it had adhered to ''the principle of achieving the best value for money for the investment''.

''We expect local authorities to obtain aggregate that meets the appropriate specification from the source closest to where the work is being carried out.''

The agency would be concerned if additional costs arose from a council stipulating this could not happen for reasons other than the source being unable to provide aggregate that met the appropriate specifications, or because the contractor was able to make additional savings from sourcing it elsewhere.

The agency had used aggregate from the quarry, most recently in the Caversham Valley improvements project.

It sourced the material ‘‘based on the specifications for any given project''.

Mr Weatherall said yesterday he acknowledged the issue was ‘‘on hold'' until the court hearing next month, and that the council was locked into some contracts.

But after the court process, the community board ‘‘would like to see all quarrying stop on Saddle Hill'', he said.

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