From sugar cane to sand: Council clears project

The proposal to extract about 150,000 tonnes of sand and brickies’ loam from two parcels of land in Norwell, Queensland, was approved by the City of Gold Coast Council’s Planning Committee on 9 November.

The plots, which measure a total of 90ha, are about 6km east of the Pacific Highway.

Although the proposal sought permission for a change of definition in the use of the land from “agricultural” in a region famous for its sugar cane, a report by the planning officers noted the site’s geology “does not and has not supported the agricultural qualities that are necessary to produce sugar cane”, adding approval would not impact a local sugar mill.

“If the site could produce sugar cane, it would only represent one per cent of the production area for the Rocky Point Sugar Mill. This reinforces what little impact the proposal would have on the mill,” the report stated.

Although the plot’s agricultural suitability would appear to have been discounted, the application received 134 objections form members of the public.

The main areas of concern included the impact the prospective quarry would have on road safety, noise and dust and groundwater.

Key resource area
A peer review carried out by council officers found that although there was “certainly a demonstrated demand for the resources, there was not an overriding need”.

According to the Gold Coast Bulletin, Deputy Mayor Donna Gates told councillors the land had been identified as a key resource area for sand to maintain urban road infrastructure under the State Government’s South East Queensland plan.

“There’s limited resource areas under the SEQ plan,” she was quoted as saying.

“On that basis there’s really little point in opposing an application like this. We’ve got incredible growth in the city. We need resources to sustain that growth.”

She added she sympathised with objecting residents.

A range of conditions were placed on the development, including:

  • Extraction can only occur over 12 stages, with rehabilitation occurring progressively as the development advances.
  • No more than 4ha is to be open for extraction at any one time.
  • A 40m buffer area must be made around the extraction area.

A spokesperson for the City of Gold Coast Council told Quarry the Planning Committee’s decision was approved at a full council meeting on 15 November, meaning the development has the green light to proceed.



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