Minister Gareth Ward, the Member for Kiama, has put his weight behind community protests against the expansion of Boral’s sandmining operations to land around Dunmore House.
“I strongly stand alongside our community in opposition to a proposed new sand mine at Dunmore.
“When Boral were granted consent in 1999 for sand mining – around one kilometre away from the new proposed site – they were approved for a four stage project only.
“The company is now seeking to amend an existing consent to add a fifth stage that was never foreshadowed in their initial application.
“I would also point out that this proposed new sand mine does not appear on the chief planning document for our region – the South Coast Regional Strategy.
“Concerns around the impact on our local environment are well founded, given one pit is incredibly close to our local waste disposal facility and another larger 27 metre deep pit is extremely close to endangered ecological communities such as Bangalay Sand Forest and the sensitive salt marsh.
“Our environment is important to our community and I will have more to say on this matter when Parliament resumes.
“This matter is being handled by the Independent Planning Commission which is similar to a court. The Commission will arrive at their decision based on facts and planning law.
“For the reasons above, I believe this application should be rejected.”
Community opposition to the proposal appears to be growing, with around 1000 people turning out in force on Minnamurra Headland to show register their protest.
They heard speeches from Friends of the Minnamurra River’s Richard Maitland, Councillor Kathy Rice, Gerroa Environmental Protection Society’s Warren Holder and Upper House Independent Justin Field, before voting unanimously to endorse the motion:
“This meeting of some 1000 concerned residents of Kiama, Shellharbour and the wider community present are totally opposed to any sand mining proposal in the flood plain and on land adjacent Riverside Drive adjoining the Minnamurra River.
“We are in full support of both Shellharbour City Council and Kiama Municipal Council who are strongly opposed to this proposal.”
The crowd then used their bodies to spell out their opposition to the two new proposed pits, details of which have been reported extensively in earlier editions.
Following the protest, David Bolton, Boral’s Quarrying General Manager in NSW, said in a statement to WIN News, “Boral takes its responsibilities to the community seriously and will work with all the relevant authorities to ensure our operations continue to meet the highest environmental standards and guidelines.”
During the exhibition period, the project received 148 submissions. Given the number of community objections received, the project will be determined by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) once the full assessment process has been conducted.
Through Minister Ward, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has advised The Bugle that relevant agencies were to have reported back to it with their comments on Boral’s Response to Submissions by 10 July (day of writing).
It was also expecting updated versions of the Biodiversity Assessment Report and the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Report from Boral by 16 July.
This information will be considered in the Department’s assessment of the proposal, which will be forwarded to the IPC for determination. As part of this process, a public hearing will be held by the IPC.