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Yaldhurst residents concerned about quarry dust

Ben Mack_Quarry
QUARRYING QUANDRY: Winstone Aggregates already operates the Yaldhurst Quarry at 233 Old West Coast Rd. The company plans to quarry 400,000 to 430,000 cubic metres over five years at 199 Old West Coast Rd. Photos: Ben Mack

Wayne Tewnion’s quandary over a nearby quarry could spell trouble for his truffle business.

The Yaldhurst resident, who owns Tewnion Truffière truffle farm on Old West Coast Rd, said dust from a planned nearby quarry expansion could harm the 600 hazelnut and English oak trees that nurture his black Périgord truffles.

If that happens, he said, “that’s the end” of his business.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) and the Christchurch City Council have approved plans by Winstone Aggregates to quarry on a property at 199 Old West Coast Rd, fewer than 90 metres from Tewnion’s truffle farm.

ECan documents show Winstone plans to take between 400,000 and 430,000 cubic metres of material over a five-year period.

One of the world’s most expensive foods, one kilogram of black Périgord truffle can sell for between $3000 and $3500.

Ben Mack_Wayne Tewnion
Wayne Tewnion says quarrying plans on Old West Coast Rd threaten his truffle business.

Tewnion, who established his business in 1996, has clients across New Zealand, including several high-end restaurants. When representatives from Christchurch’s The George came to visit, Tewnion said, his specially-trained dog found 2kg of truffles in a single hour.

Tewnion said he would like to export his truffles. If his trees died due to dust preventing them from turning sunlight into energy, the truffles would suffer.

Bob Cross, another Yaldhurst resident, expressed similar concerns about the quarrying. He said it would be “risky” to appeal the decision.

Winstone plans to quarry on land owned by Ian and Victoria Dunn, whose property is across the road from Tewnion. The largest aggregate company in New Zealand, Winstone takes about 4.5 million cubic metres of material each year from 26 locations nation-wide. A full lorry leaves a Winstone quarry every 35 seconds, the company claims, with the rock used for buildings, roads and industry.

When asked about the quarrying on Old West Coast Rd, a spokeswoman for Winstone Aggregates referred to the ECan decision to approve the plans.

She said a company representative authorised to speak with the media was overseas.

The planned quarrying was cause for concern at the Riccarton-Wigram Community Board meeting on March 3.

“The really big fear is that it would pollute the groundwater,” said Christchurch Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck. “If we damage our water supply, environmentally it’s disastrous.”

Board chairman Mike Mora said: “I don’t think it’s appropriate to be quarrying and landfilling in our aquifer recharge areas. We’re very upset about the way this process happened. It was undemocratic. People weren’t given the opportunity to voice their concerns. They chose not to notify the public.”

Founded in 1864, Auckland-based Winstone is also part of Fletcher Building, Australasia’s largest building materials supplier which reported revenue of over $8.4 billion for the June 2013 – June 2014 fiscal year.

_Ben Mack for the Christchurch Mail