Aerial view of the proposed Forest Glen sand mine.
Aerial view of the proposed Forest Glen sand mine. Julian George

State Govt's sand mine assessment based on developer's data

A STATE Government proposal to have a controversial proposed sand mine site declared a state Key Resource Area was based on an assessment of data supplied by the developer's consultants.

No physical assessment of the site was undertaken by the Department in its assessment which has deemed the site worthy of being declared a state-significant extractive resource.

After three attempts the Department of Natural Resources and Mines has directly answered a series of questions put by the Daily over the recent KRA proposal.

Community group Eudlo Creek Neighbours Inc was advised on November 21 of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines' intentions to have a Forest Glen site subject of an appeal over a 105-hectare sand mine proposal included as a state-significant, extractive Key Resource Area, in an amended State Planning Policy.

A Department spokesman said a report prepared by Maroochydore Sands' consultant, Groundwork Plus, had been provided to the Department's Geological Survey of Queensland (GSQ) in October 2014. A formal development application was lodged by Maroochydore Sands in February, 2015.

GSQ then assessed the site, based on that data, against detailed criteria set out in legislation in the State Planning Policy.

 

Sand mine opponents attended the Nambour Council Chambers in October, where the proposal was rejected.
Sand mine opponents attended the Nambour Council Chambers in October, where the proposal was rejected. Warren Lynam

The Department spokesman confirmed no physical site survey was undertaken during this assessment.

"After receiving this report, GSQ undertook a geological assessment of the site based on the size of the available resource, and considered factors such as production rate, market supply, scarcity and specialisation of the extractive resource," the spokesman said.

"GSQ's assessment was not conducted on site but was based on GSQ's historical and projected sand production data for the south-east Queensland region."

Investigations of Key Resource Areas can be initiated "by GSQ, other government agencies, local governments or by industry", the spokesman said.

The spokesman said the Groundwork Plus report had been prepared by qualified geologists and was assessed by geologists, when asked how the Department guaranteed accurate and unbiased data was used to base its assessments on.

The spokesman said the Department's detailed assessment had started in October 2014 and it was included in the public consultation period for the draft State Planning Policy, with consultation set to finish on February 10 next year.

The spokesman said it was "standard practice" for development proponents to commission reports on the availability of a resource material which was done to assess site viability, develop management plans and "to support development applications".

Residents were outraged by the timing of the KRA proposal, given 266 of them are set to join the Sunshine Coast Council in about six weeks as co-respondents in the Planning and Environment Court, after developers Maroochydore Sands appealed the council's refusal of the 30-year mine proposal in October.

The Department spokesman said the Eudlo Creek KRA proposal was made and presented to the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines well before the rejection and appeal of the proposed sand mine.

"The Eudlo Creek KRA proposal was developed and presented to the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines in February 2016, prior to the Sunshine Coast Regional Council's refusal of the extractive industry development proposal and subsequent appeal, which both occurred in October 2016," the spokesman said.

The Department spokesman said the proposed KRA "does not include any land which is zoned by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council for residential development" and that the purpose of a KRA was to prevent "encroachment of incompatible land uses, including residential properties", noting KRAs included buffer zones to protect surrounding infrastructure and land uses.

The spokesman said the site had been identified as a potential sand resource since 1978.

"Based on information available since 1978, the area was designated as an extractive resource in the former Maroochy Shire Planning Scheme prior to the commencement of the Sunshine Cost Regional Planning Scheme," the spokesman said.

Housing developments have been approved and constructed as well as the Montessori International College, nearby to the proposed sand mine site.

The Department spokesman said it was up to the council to make decisions about development applications when asked what impact the proposed sand mine may have on any housing developments.

When queried about what impact the proposal may have on any Planning and Environment Court considerations, the spokesman was unable to say categorically that the KRA proposal would not be considered or have any bearing on the court's deliberations when the appeal is heard.

"The Court will consider information it deems to be appropriate," the spokesman said.

He also said it was a matter for the Court as to whether it would consider a previous proposal to relocate Horton Park Golf Course to the site. That proposal was ultimately refused by the council.

Instead the golf course was relocated to Bli Bli, but the spokesman said that relocation had not had a major impact on the existing Maroochy North Bli Bli KRA.

"The Maroochy North Bli Bli KRA is largely unaffected by the golf course, which does not result in an increase in dwellings or infrastructure," the spokesman said.

"The identification of KRAs will guide the Sunshine Coast Regional Council in balancing future planning needs for the region."

From 10am to 1pm today residents will be able to go face to face with officials from the Department, after the Geological Survey Queensland assessment deemed the site suitable for KRA status, with a public information session at Maroochydore's Millwell Road Community Centre starting shortly.


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