Looming gravel shortage could throw housing, roading projects into doubt

Major roading and housing projects across the country could be in doubt because of a looming shortage of gravel.

The industry is warning prices will continue to climb if our gravel stocks are not managed better. Source: 1 NEWS

Big projects are chewing through the country's supplies of the aggregate, forcing up the price as reserves shrink.

“It never stops,” says Gill Construction manager Roger Earl.

“Seven days a week, it constantly goes out the door and I don't think that'll ever change”.

What's not guaranteed is where the Marlborough contractors will get it from in the future.

The amount of gravel the local council uses for roads has doubled following the Kaikoura earthquake and is now restricted on what it can take.

“We're typically guilty in New Zealand of over harvesting, so now you're seeing councils and regulatory authorities controlling the extraction rate from rivers in certain areas,” explains Aggregate and Quarry Association member Antony Clark.

It's estimated New Zealand uses between 40 - 45 million tonnes of aggregate a year. That equates to around one truckload per New Zealander.

The quarry industry says it’s getting harder to gain consents for sites, especially in urban areas.

But residents who live near proposed new sites, like those living in the Christchurch suburb Templeton, say they'll end up paying the biggest price.

“I understand and accept that we need quarries, but the only reason they're putting it there is that it will save them money,” Templeton Residents’ Association Chairman Gary Kilday told 1 NEWS.

“There's a truck coming in or out every 20 seconds and these trucks are huge. When they're empty and go over a bump they sound like an earthquake coming” he says.

But the industry's warning prices will continue to climb if our gravel stocks aren't managed better.

“Every time you go beyond 30 kilometres the price of that material doubles,” says Mr Clark.

"You're gonna pay more for your house, more to make that subdivision, to put your house on, more for the pipes going in there."