Despite opposition by Kiama and Shellharbour Councils, and the community, the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) has approved Boral’s application to modify its sandmining operations at Dunmore, by opening two new pits across the highway.
Long time environmental campaigner, Howard Jones of the Gerroa Environment Protection Society (GEPS), says his group is extremely disappointed by the decision.
“This mine will be located within a highly sensitive environmental and cultural landscape consisting of endangered ecological communities, wetlands and the site of the Minnamurra Massacre.
“Fifty trees, including thirty-eight with hollows, will be removed and the future of adjoining saline wetlands will be at risk.
“The Kiama community, Kiama and Shellharbour Councils and our local member opposed the mine but this decision has placed the sand resource above these values.”
Speaking at the November Council Meeting, Deputy Mayor Andrew Sloan echoed this sentiment.
“The decision emphasised the economic importance of this resource to the State of NSW, but it is one or two years worth of sand and impact on this community will last forever.
“I can’t believe what has happened to the planning process when a development like that can be considered a modification, when it is on the other side of the hill, over the highway, opposite the Minnamurra Tip and so close to the river.
“It gets approved with no recourse to the State Government, except at the next election.”
Councillor Kathy Rice, who spoke at a hearing for the two councils which both opposed the application, thanked the community for the massive number of submissions which were made to the IPC against the proposal.
“It is a real pity the advice that was given by Council and the community wasn’t respected by the IPC and that it will now go ahead. It is something that can impact on the ecology of the river forever.”
The Commissioners accepted that the mine would be located near the Minnamurra massacre site but questioned its actual location.
“No one disputes that the specific location is unclear but Professor Lyndall Ryan from Newcastle University has provided an approximate location map that overlaps the mine site and the Illawarra Land Council considers the entire area should be considered a ‘Cultural Landscape’, says Mr Jones.
“The documented stories associated with the massacre provides the perfect case study to explain to future generations the direct link between the massacring and dispossession of Aboriginal people in our area.
“Records show that within three years of the event the men associated with the massacre gained ownership of the land of those killed.
“We consider that the disrespecting and desecration of this site will be viewed in the future as a continuation of the processes of Aboriginal dispossession.
“We need our historical sites so that the stories associated them can be retold and not forgotten.”
A spokesman for Boral says, “Boral welcomes the NSW Independent Planning Commission’s (IPC) decision to approve the establishment of Stage 5A and B as part of our Dunmore Sand and Soil operations.
“The decision has relied upon thorough and rigorous studies on the proposal, as compiled by experienced and qualified experts.
“Boral’s strong track record in responsible environmental management of our operations at Dunmore will continue via a series of management plans stipulated in the conditions of consent.
“We acknowledge concerns raised by the community during the assessment and appreciate this feedback.
“We will continue to work with the community to ensure we meet or exceed all of our planning conditions, as we have for many years at our existing operations.
“Boral will commence work on this development immediately, to ensure that the Illawarra can benefit from the supply of this construction sand and the jobs it will create as soon as possible.”