Decision on sandmining near Minnamurra River won’t go to independent commission

Friends of the Minnamurra River’s Richard Maitland

In an unexpected turn of events, the Friends of the Minnamurra River have discovered that the decision on Boral’s proposal for two sandmining pits east of the Highway, near the Minnamurra River, will be made under delegated authority by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Having brought this development to Council’s attention, the March Meeting passed a unanimous vote to protest the change.

“The commitment that was previously made was that it will go through the Independent Planning Commission (IPC), and Council expects that commitment to be honored,” says Council’s General Manager Kerry McMurray.

A statement from the Department obtained by The Bugle confirms the situation, “In accordance with the recommendations of the recent review of the IPC by the NSW Productivity Commissioner, modifications to State significant developments will no longer be referred to the Commission for determination.

“This does not mean there is any reduction in the rigour of the assessment process or consultation with the community.

“All applications must still be assessed in accordance with the requirements of the EP&A Act and applicable government policies and guidelines.

“The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is currently finalising its assessment and will be consulting directly with Kiama and Shellharbour Councils and the local community before any decision is made on the proposed modification.”

As covered extensively in The Bugle last year, Boral is seeking approval of the two new pits as a modification of the permit for its existing operations at Dunmore.

In total, nearly 1.5 million tonnes of sand is involved.

While the sites are in the Shellharbour local government area, their position close to the ecologically sensitive Minnamurra River has caused locals concern.

“The Councils nor the community will not put up with this attempt to deny a public hearing,” says Friends of the Minnamurra River’s Richard Maitland.

“The original Approval was in the Rocklow Creek Catchment – a catchment which has been significantly modified through agriculture and extractive industry activity.

“The Minnamurra River is a pristine catchment especially in its estuary zone under multiple State and Federal legislation.

“To say that the original 1999 approval, modified 2005, is applicable to this current proposal is a disgraceful indictment of the laissez faire approach that this current State Government has adopted in regard to the environment.”

The scope of modifications and their potential impacts is constrained by having to be substantially the same development as the development for which consent was originally granted.

A spokesman for Boral says, “Boral has undertaken an extensive environmental assessment process for the proposal and maintains its confidence that it can be implemented in alignment with all planning and environmental obligations as reflected in our application.

“The State Significant Development application determination pathways are a matter for the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) so we respectfully await the Department’s further guidance on a determination.”

In other separate news, Boral has withdrawn its modification proposal for the rehabilitation of Bombo Quarry by amending the quarry’s existing consent to allow importation of clean fill and rehabilitation.

“We are currently looking at approval ‘pathway’ options, including the potential of collaboration with Transport for NSW, on plans for the entire precinct,” says Boral.

It recently received permission to bring Sydney fill to its Dunmore site for processing with its sand.

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