Former Port Stephen’s mayor Bruce MacKenzie’s company fined by regulators three times in as many months

BREACH: Macka’s Sand and Soil, part owned by former Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie, was fined by regulators this year for running extra trucks and mining too deep. Picture: Jonathan Carroll MILLIONAIRE former Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie’s sand mining company has been fined by regulators three times in as many months in what is fast becoming a list of indiscretions by the company.

Macka’s Sand and Soil, which operates two Stockton Bight sand mines, was hit with a $15,000 fine this month for running almost an extra 1000 truck movements over 11 months last year.The latest fine is estimated to be a drop in the oceancompared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars the Salt Ash company would have pocketed from running the extra trucks.

A repeat offender, Macaka’s Sand and Soil wascaught in May 2015 running extra trucksbut was let off without punishment.

At the time the company said it mistakenly counted each entry and exit as just one movement.

In the latest incident, compliance officersinvestigated the quarry’s records and found that the company breached the limit 300 times, leading to an extra 989 truck movements on the roads between January and November last year.

Macka’s, run by Mr MacKenzie and his son Robert, blamed the additional truck movements on “software issues” on its weighbridge.

Robert MacKenzie said the company hadflagged the issues with authorities and they last occurred in November 2016.A spokeswoman for the Department of Planning and Environment said the problem has since been fixed.

MILLIONAIRE: Former Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie declined to comment on his company being fined by regulators three times in the past few months.

Effectively, the $15,000 fine amounts to the equivalent of about 45standard truck-and-trailer combinationsworth of sand or 1500 tonnes.

The company is licensed to extract up to 2million tonnes of sand each year which would fill more than 60,000 standard truck-and-trailer combinations, worth at least $20 million.

Fairfax Mediacan reveal that Macka’s Sand and Soilwas also caught in September for breaching extraction depth at its two Stockton Bight sand mines.

It’s understood the company breached the extraction depth limit at its largest mine site by two metres for nine months this year.

The company also breached the extraction depth at its second mine site by 0.2 metres for up to six weeks. It was fined $15,000andan additional$15,000 for failing to report the breachesto the Department of Planning and Environment.

Port Stephens MP, Kate Washington, called for Macka’s Sand and Soilto be placed on a repeat offenders “priority watch list” by the state government.

She described the $15,000 fine for the 989 unauthorisedtruck movements as a “serious flaw” in the planning system.

“The fine issued is patently insufficient in light of the profits derived by additional truckloads of sand, and the cost of the enforcement process itself,”she said.

“The conditions imposed on the company are there to protect the safety of other road users and the quality of life of nearby residents.

Ms Washington also alleged the company’s breaches had been “reducing the quality of life of nearby residents.”

Former Nelson BayRoad resident Anita Bugges, who left the Hunterin July last year, describedthe noise from the trucks as “unbearableat times”.

Ms Bugges said there were times when she was forced to “completely closeup”her house to hear the television. “Truckswould wake you up in the early hours of the morning,”she said. “It was just horrible.”

The department’s executive director of resource assessments and compliance, Dr Oliver Holm, said after the December 12 fine that the development conditions limited the number of truck movements for safety.

“These road safety conditions … must be strictly adhered to,” Dr Holmsaid.“In response, the company has addressed issues with its truck logging software so that vehicle movements can be tracked more accurately at the site.”

FINED: Macka’s Sand and Soil owners Bruce and Robert MacKenzie on a sand dune that forms the basis of their business.

In 2015, Macka’sapplied to increase the number of trucks using its controversial Williamtown access road by 200 per cent every hour.

The applicationasked to increase truck movements before 7am from 10 trucks to 28 (14 in and 14 out), and increase 7am to 10am movements from 16 to 48.

Amid community concerns about road safety and noise, the Planning Assessment Commission grantedapproval foradditional truck movements, but onlybefore6am.Under the amended conditions the company is allowed28 truck movements an hour before 6am.

Bruce MacKenzie declined to comment.