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Boral has appealed against a council’s decision to refuse its Reedy Creek quarry.
Boral has appealed against a council’s decision to refuse its Reedy Creek quarry.

Boral to contest council decision in court

Boral has lodged an appeal for a proposed hard rock quarry which was rejected by the local council last month.

The company has proposed to extract meta-greywacke hard rock at a rate of two million tonnes per annum from a 217ha site near Reedy Creek, on the Gold Coast, which is estimated to contain reserves of about 79 million tonnes and have a resource life of at least 40 years.

The quarry would replace Boral’s existing West Burleigh Quarry, which is expected to deplete its reserves in five to eight years.

The Gold Coast City Council last month voted unanimously against the $2.2 billion project in July, expressing a number of concerns, including noise, dust, traffic and the impacts on wildlife, particularly on koalas.

In the appeal lodged with the Queensland Planning and Environment Court last week, Boral said there was a “strong need” for its Gold Coast Quarry and disputed the council’s grounds for refusal. It stated that the proposal adequately addressed traffic, noise and air quality impacts, that it “commits to a net benefit for koalas” and that the proposed site access “does not present a significant barrier to wildlife movement”.

Boral also noted that the project would not conflict with the Gold Coast Planning Scheme, State Planning Policy or South East Queensland Regional Plan as the council had claimed.

Instead, the appeal stated that the proposal “demonstrates an overall positive community benefit”, such as in the generation of 246 construction jobs and 24 operational jobs and in the upgrade of Old Coach Road. Boral also pointed out that the Queensland Government had labelled the project as being of state significance in November 2010 due to the contributions it could make to the region’s economy. 

Possible government intervention
There has been speculation that the Queensland Government may step in to support the project as it did in December 2013 when Queensland Coordinator-General Barry Broe approved the project’s environmental impact statement (EIS). The council had previously rejected the project in October that year on the grounds its EIS required further information.

Quarry projects that Queensland Deputy Premier and Minister of State Development Jeff Seeney has recently called in include Barro Group’s proposed expansion of the Mount Cotton quarry – which was subsequently approved – and Holcim’s proposed Innes Park quarry, which is still under consideration.

However, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported that Seeney had “refused to budge” on the Gold Coast Quarry, adding that he maintained the dispute should follow due process in court.

Dr Chris McGrath, a former barrister with considerable experience in the Queensland Planning and Environment Court, told ABC Gold Coast radio that if the appeal went to trial, it could cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

“It’s an expensive process. I expect each side will budget in the order of a million dollars for lawyers, experts [and] running the trial and then whichever side wins, they would normally expect the other side to pay their legal costs,” he said.

Given the State Government had already shown support for the project, McGrath – who is now a senior lecturer in environmental regulation at the University of Queensland – noted that it would be a difficult case for the council to win. Nonetheless, he praised the council for representing the community’s interests. 

“For Council, there’s a significant financial risk and that may be something that pushes them to agree to resolve the appeal by consent at some stage but a lot of water has to flow under the bridge before then,” McGrath said.

More reading
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
Boral: public critique of Gold Coast Quarry premature

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Monday, 16 September, 2019 8:30am
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