Industry News

Enhancing our reputation on flora, fauna and heritage

It has been just over two years since the then Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett rejected the Queensland State Government’s application to build a dam in the Mary Valley, north of Brisbane. This win for the environment, and a well organised community group, had seen the ousting of every sitting state Labor member from the northern suburbs of Brisbane to Rockhampton during the 2009 state election.

In Queensland, and throughout Australia, it has heralded a resurgence in the ability of “people power” to influence governments at all levels, particularly when it comes to issues affecting the environment.

Recently, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled against development of a new quarry, citing the impact on the warty swamp frog, brolgas, and fat-tailed dunnarts as one of the reasons for halting the proposal. Over recent years quarry operators have had difficulty in convincing authorities that their development proposals adequately address the management of koala and black throated thrush habitats.

On 30 April this year, Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke classified koalas as vulnerable under a protected listing in New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.

Australia accounts for nearly 10 per cent of the world’s biodiversity and has the highest number of extinct species, making it the country with the most endangered species in the world. There are in fact 444 endangered or threatened fauna listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in Australia.

Many operators underestimate the significance of these facts and community attitudes towards projects that have the potential to impact on this fauna and/or their habitat.  The environmental lobby is also given significant attention by all levels of government.

More and more we are seeing well informed, and well organised, community groups sift through the detail in development applications to ensure that the applicant is giving due consideration to the affects of the application on the flora, fauna and national heritage at the site.

We in the quarrying industry cannot become complacent to these community concerns, particularly in the initial stages of preparing quarry development applications or amendments to existing development approvals. We must apply the same attention to flora, fauna and national heritage that we apply to resource assessment, quarry development and capital proposals. Failure to do so could result in delays, significant additional costs, unwanted public attention and negative publicity.

On a positive note, attention to these environmental concerns and the ongoing management of flora, fauna and national heritage issues will enhance our reputation with the community and political leaders.

It will also help us demonstrate that we believe in sustainable land management, quarry rehabilitation and biodiversity. A number of state jurisdictions are currently looking at streamlining the processing of development applications and our positive approach to these important environmental issues should give these governments confidence that the quarrying industry is a responsible corporate citizen.

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend