Plant & Equipment

Barro defeats council in Mt Cotton appeal

On 25 July, the Queensland Planning and Environment Court ruled in favour of Barro’s appeal against the council’s decision to refuse a currency extension application for the site, 40km southeast of Brisbane.

Barro has been undertaking a 52ha extension of the quarry, which is located in a Key Resource Area (KRA), under an approval that was originally granted as the result of a ministerial “call in” in 2013.

The company’s approval lapsed in December 2017, requiring it to lodge the application with the council for a three-year extension of the time period allowed for the quarry to commence operation.

Redland City councillors, who have been historic opponents of the quarry, rejected the application in March 2018. The ruling brought the Mount Cotton Quarry extension to a halt, while Barro appealed the decision in the Planning and Environment Court in Brisbane, lodged on 24 April, 2018.

Last month the court ruled in favour of the Barro appeal, paving the way for the company to resume operations.

“Barro Group are pleased with the outcome but the process, decision-making and waste of time and money caused by the councillors is just not right,” Barro Queensland general manager Ian Ridoutt told Quarry.

He questioned why councillors did not trust the work of their own officers and external consultants, which the council paid to provide independent reviews.

“The council engaged expert external consultants to review the matter, they recommended approval, the council’s own technical officers reviewed the matter, they recommended approval,” he said. “The state regulatory agencies reviewed the matter and they issued related approval conditions and the matter went before the Planning and Environment Court who unsurprisingly found in favour of Barro.”

{{quote-A:R-W:175-I:2-Q:“Barro Group are pleased with the outcome but the process, decision-making and waste of time and money caused by the councillors is just not right” -who:Ian Ridoutt, Barro Queensland general manager}}Ridoutt said the company had been overwhelmed with the number of people and businesses in the area pleased with the outcome.

“We now just want to get on with the job of providing a local source of raw materials for the Redland community’s infrastructure, schooling, housing and tourism needs.”

Longstanding dispute

The Mount Cotton Quarry extension has been a point of contention between Barro Group and the Redland City Council for almost six years.

Barro first lodged a development application (DA) with the council in 2010 asking for a material change of use for extractive industry and environmentally relevant activities, which covered chemical storage, extractive and screening activities, and the operation of a motor vehicle workshop.

The Mount Cotton development is an extension of a 1960s operation. It is scheduled to take place over four stages, supplying local areas with approximately 45 million tonnes of meta-greywacke in the next 50 years.

The $30 million project has promised to generate $400 million for the community during its lifespan, and create 50 full-time jobs. Utilising just 28 per cent of the 240ha site for quarrying purposes, it also proposed to establish 174ha of conservation area with more than 50,000 new koala food trees.

The council originally refused the application in June 2013, despite full endorsement from the state and federal governments. Barro had also agreed to stringent conditions, including hours of operation, a six-metre-high acoustic fence and extraction of no more than one million tonnes per annum.

As the quarry was located in a KRA, the then Queensland Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney intervened and exercised his ministerial powers under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 to “call in” Barro’s DA.

He overruled the council and approved the extension in December 2013, citing the need for the quarried products to support future population growth and planned infrastructure in southeast Queensland. He also noted the extensive conservation and restoration of koala habitat set out in the proposal.

Back in council hands

In its justification for denying Barro’s extension application in March last year, the Redland City Council stated more than 442 homes had been built since the 2013 ministerial approval, equating to a significant number of residents who were unaware of the development.

It has also argued it would affect the amenity of the community. The council believed the refusal would provide an opportunity for a full and fresh application to be lodged so new residents could have their say on the project.

While this decision was subsequently overturned in the Planning and Environment Court appeal earlier this month, councillors maintained their belief the state government should have been the authority to determine the fate of the application.

“KRAs are declared by the state government to protect these critical resources of state significance to support the state’s economic growth,” Redland City mayor Karen Williams said. “But then under state planning processes it is up to council to make decisions about development in KRAs, which puts us in a difficult position.”

Ridoutt said it was clearly a council decision to make, and labelled the council’s statements “a political distraction”.

On July 17 – eight days before the appeal decision was handed down to the council – councillor Julie Talty moved an amended resolution to call for the state government to stand behind the council in the ill-fated court case.

“The state imposes the Key Resource Area that controls the area where the quarry is proposed,” she said. “They also monitor air and dust levels, which are among the major concerns of residents, and control the road serving the quarry, so we really need them with us in court arguing these points on behalf of residents.”

Following the council’s legal defeat, Tatly told the Redland City Bulletin she was disappointed the state government did not stand behind the council in the appeal.

Barro Queensland is currently involved in an additional appeal after the Sunshine Coast Council also refused its application to expand its operations at Burrum Quarry, 60km north of Brisbane. The Burrum site dates back to the 1970s and is also located in a KRA.


More reading:
Producer to appeal disappointing position
Mt Cotton extension project raised at senate inquiry
Report backs Mt Cotton Quarry
Minister grants go-aheads to quarries
Government to decide on quarry expansion
Barro welcomes government intervention
Court action likely after Mt Cotton rejection

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