Plant & Equipment

Environment Court dismisses appeal for $2 billion quarry

The court battle ran for seven weeks over a two-year period and was one of the longest in the court’s history, allegedly costing the Gold Coast City Council (GCCC) millions of dollars.

According to multiple reports, Boral’s executive general manager Simon Jeffery said the company was “highly disappointed by the court’s decision” that was handed down on 4 May.

“Our proposal was aimed at ensuring that Boral could continue to economically supply the growing Gold Coast housing and construction market while at the same time protecting hundreds of local jobs,” Jeffery told ABC News.

As previously reported by Quarry, Boral bought the site at Reedy Creek for $15.4 million in 2005. In 2011, Boral proposed that a new quarry would replace its original West Burleigh quarry site, whose reserves are due to run out by 2022.

The proposed Reedy Creek quarry’s footprint would have accounted for 30 per cent of the 220ha site (less than 70ha in total) over the span of 40 years.

Described as the Gold Coast’s last hard rock site, the Reedy Creek site contains reserves of approximately 79 million tonnes over 40 years. Subsequently, Boral proposed to extract meta-greywacke hard rock at a rate of two million tonnes per annum.

Three-year battle

The Queensland Government declared the project a Project of State Significance in 2010. The Queensland Coordinator-General Barry Broe went on to approve the EIS in late December 2013, prompting Boral to lodge a formal development application with the GCCC. Further approvals were subsequently received from both the Federal Environment Minister in January 2014 and Queensland Department of Environment & Heritage Protection in July 2014.

In July 2014, contrary to their own officers’ recommendation, the GCCC unanimously voted against the application, expressing concerns over noise, dust, traffic and wildlife. The council also claimed Boral’s application did not explain how the project would benefit the local community. Boral subsequently lodged an appeal against this decision.

While the Planning and Environment Court’s Judge Richard Jones agreed with some elements of the GCCC’s submission, he acknowledged in handing down his decision that “there were merits on both sides” and that “I found this case to be quite a difficult one to decide”.

“The decision I finally reached,” Jones said, “was there wasn’t sufficient grounds for exploitation at this stage, but it will be observed by reading the judgement that this is a key resource, a state asset, and in my view until circumstances change ought to be protected.”

As a result, the decision may give Boral some heart that the quest to open a quarry at Reedy Creek is not entirely over. “The project is too important for Boral and the Gold Coast region,” Simon Jeffery said.

”We are an active participant in the Gold Coast construction market offering asphalt, concrete and road contracting services additional to aggregates supply. Over 300 people rely on Boral for full time employment. We inject $55 million each year into the local economy and intend to hold this position for decades to come. The ruling of Judge Jones noted the resource should be ‘protected for future exploitation’ … so for me it is more a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’. We will regroup and take advice on further legal avenues.”

More reading
Boral to contest council decision in court
Council thwarts plans for Australia’s “biggest” quarry
Minister grants go aheads to quarries
Gold Coast rejects Boral application
Setback for Boral at Reedy Creek
Residents rally against Gold Coast quarry

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