Barro Group, owners of Mount Cotton Quarry, have welcomed the announcement from the Queensland Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Jeff Seeney that the State Government will ?call in? the quarry extension project.
Under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009, Seeney is able to call in projects that are regarded as being of ?state interest?. The ?call in? was in response to requests from Redland City Council, Barro Group and other parties and means the Minister will reassess and decide the project?s future.
In June, Redland City Council voted against the recommendations of its own officers and State and Federal Government agencies to approve the $400 million project.
?It will mean that the previous analysis and approval conditions proposed by Council?s own properly trained and competent officers will be well considered by the Minister, free of the local politics which faced Redland councillors,? Barro Group general manager Ian Ridoutt told Quarry.
“I received a number of submissions throughout the consultation period, and I considered all of the matters raised prior to arriving at my decision,” Seeney declared. “I will now undertake a reassessment of the application against the relevant planning instruments and make a final determination as to whether the proposed expansion will go ahead or not.”
Legal challenge at an end
Ridoutt said that this is the beginning of a state-controlled reassessment of the project and brings to an end Barro?s legal challenge in the Planning and Environment Court that was set to cost Redland ratepayers $1.5 million in legal fees.
?The minister’s intervention and reassessment coupled to the decade of good science and investigation undertaken already will unlock the substantial environmental, employment and economic benefits that are available to flow to the local community,? Ridoutt said.
?It means the project is now reassessed on the basis of science and merit and away from political and emotional influences. And it does so with state interests and local benefit in mind,? he added.
Ridoutt added it is vital to keep building and construction, renovation and infrastructure costs under control and he is confident of a positive outcome. He said that Redland and Logan city councils could benefit from the $400 million this project would generate locally and it will ensure the region can meet the growing local demand for quarry materials into the future.
?We are hopeful now of a positive decision from the State Government by Christmas and the commencement of the construction phase of the project, a $30 million boost for the city, can start to flow into town early in the New Year,? Ridoutt said.
Community opposition persists
Opponents of the quarry extension said they still believed it would have negative effects on nearby residents and wildlife with an increased number of quarry trucks and the production of silica dust. They also remain sceptical of Barro Group’s ethical standards and say over 11,000 residents had signed petitions against the quarry.
The weekend before Mr Seeney’s announcement, 100 protesters gathered at the Redland City Council chambers to send a message to the State Government that they did not want the quarry extension.
Ridoutt told Quarry that the Barro Group owns a large tract of land, over 240 hectares. The quarry will only use 28 per cent of this so there are extensive buffers available on Barro?s own land and it is in a rural environment with large adjoining landholdings. Quarry works would be contained to a valley with a hillside as a natural sound and dust barrier, shielding properties to the north.
According to Ridoutt, two state government dust studies found the Mount Cotton community is unlikely to suffer any adverse health effects from particle and crystalline silica generated from quarrying activities in the Mount Cotton area. The existing quarry on the site has been operating for over 50 years and benefits from direct access to a major state-controlled road.
?Many quarry proposals have poor or inadequate access routes to their markets and it is understandable in these cases that road safety is a major worry for the community,? Ridoutt acknowledged.
Sources: Barro Group, Department of the Deputy Premier the Hon Jeff Seeney, The Courier Mail, The Bayside Bulletin, Redland Times