According to the Barro Group, the project would have created 50 new jobs and an investment of $25 million. Barro Group is now contemplating legal action against Redlands City Council.
The project has been in the pipeline for 10 years but has been under pressure from local inhabitants. Redlands City councillors rejected the project at a recent general meeting with a vote of nine to one, despite Barro Group?s agreement to stringent conditions.
Under the conditions, the quarry was not to extract more than one million tonnes of greywacke a year and only allowed to operate between 6.30am and 6pm Monday to Friday and from 6.30am to 4pm on Saturday. It would only carry out blasting between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday and adhere to all noise and dust obligations set out in an Environmental Management Plan. Trucks were to enter and leave from Mount Cotton Road and a six metre acoustic barrier fence was to be built to contain noise.
The conditions also stipulated an eight-member community reference group to be set up.
“[It is] Most disappointing that every possible approval had been sought and [granted], and the council has chosen to ignore all that information and head off on their own track,” Ian Ridoutt, Barro Group?s Mt Cotton general manager, said.
Redlands mayor Karen Williams said the council rejected the project on ?planning and environmental? grounds and because assessment done by the state was ?flawed and not in the community interests?.
?The grounds range from housing, noise and dust through to issues including ? Mount Cotton Road, which is a fairly treacherous length of road,? Williams explained.
?Seventeen extra truck movements on that road per hour would have a significant impact and the only contribution being made to the State’s Main Roads Department was $400,000. There was a great opportunity to improve that road through the Barro application.?
According to Barro Group director Peter Barro, the Mt Cotton Quarry would generate $150 million in wages for Redland City workers over the life of the project and provide an immediate investment into the city of $25 million.
??We have spent 10 years in negotiation with the community and had teams of experts working with state, federal and local governments to ensure we develop refreshing and real community focused outcomes,? Barro said. ?The days of a quarry isolating its operations from the community are long gone. This is now about providing vital resources for the community and delivering them in a way the community has sought.?
The Barro Group sees environmental positives for the area, as the proposed project would see the dedication of more than 170 hectares of land for conservation and protection under a legally binding mechanism. It would also establish more than 50,000 new trees, which would benefit the Redland koala population as well as other wildlife in the region.
According to Ridoutt, the project isn?t the creation of new quarry but about taking a 1960s operation and extending its life for the next 50 years.
The Barro Group has based local needs for quarry materials on population predictions extrapolated from the Queensland Treasury and Trade data over this 50-year period. During this time the communities of Redlands and Logan will require 350 million tonnes of quarry materials.
Ridouttt said it was a critical question for councils to consider how they best position the interests of their residents in ensuring that quarry materials are locally and economically available.
Court appeal pending
Quarry has received a copy of a letter from Ridoutt to the Queensland Government in which it is stated that the Barro Group has commenced work on a court appeal to the council decision. The Group has also contacted the Queensland Minister for State Development to request input into advancing the project.
“They have this opportunity here and they’ve knocked it back. It sends strong messages to people that if you want to get something done in Redlands you’re going to have to go to court,” Ridoutt said.
He said the State Government had recognised the Mt Cotton site as being of significance and provided for its protection as a vital extractive industry site.
According to Barro Group, projects like the Toondah Harbour development, the Weinam Creek project, road maintenance, hospitals, schools, day care centres, houses, shopping centres, marinas and a myriad of other facilities are all in need of materials from a quarry and the community is fortunate to have the resources locally.
The transportation of materials from outside the city would add thousands to the cost of house construction and hundreds of thousands to Council budgets and large developments.
In the past, Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney had said he was not adverse to ?calling in? projects if he believed they were being jeopardised by vocal ?minority groups?. The deputy premier was responding to a question from Ridoutt, who had asked what the state was doing to safeguard projects that have ?ticked all the boxes? but faced community opposition.
?Where there is going to be a long period of expensive litigation by protest groups, I am not backwards in calling in those projects, especially if they have extensive benefits,? said Seeney.
Sources: Barro Group, The Redland Times, The Bayside Bulletin, The Courier Mail