The Land and Environment Court has dismissed an appeal by the owner of a sand quarry in sensitive coastal forest at Broken Head to turn the area into a 200-home suburb.
The owner of the land, EMGA Mitchell McLennan Pty Ltd, contended that the quarry was exhausted and last year submitted a plan to Byron Shire Council to turn the denuded section into a 200-home development instead of remediating the land as was required by the council’s approval of the quarry’s original DA.
But the council last year overwhelmingly rejected the plan and told the developer that if the quarry was exhausted it should be remediating the land as required.
Byron mayor Simon Richardson even went so far as to say he hoped the company had set aside sufficient funds to satisfy its remediation requirements.
The company’s court appeal was defeated after commissioner Graham Brown found the proposed development was incompatible with the objectives of the land’s agricultural zoning.
Commissioner Brown told the court that, ‘the proposal will not preserve the character anticipated by the RU1 zone and the proposal will undermine the expressed future planning objectives of the RU1 zone.
‘Put simply, a residential subdivision has no relationship with the primary agriculture character anticipated by the RU1 zone,’ commissioner Brown continued.
While the company claimed the zoning was ‘ill-founded’, the commissioner said that was ‘not a matter that can influence the consideration of this appeal.’
Commissioner Brown was equally dismissive of the company’s arguments regarding the required remediation, saying its ecological assessment was ‘inadequate’ and he insisted the rehabilitation of the quarry was ‘a fundamental component in the consideration of the application.’
Greens welcome decision
The move has been welcomed by Greens MP, former Byron mayor and local resident Jan Barham.
She said the quarry site had ‘never been included as a site for residential development in council’s planning instruments and strategic plans for the region over the past two decades.’
Ms Barham added the residential proposal was ‘inconsistent with the zoning and character of the area.’
‘Because of the precious biodiversity of the Broken Head area and the significance of sites in the area to the traditional custodians of these lands, it is important that the area protected and that rehabilitation of the quarry site proceeds, Ms Barham said.
‘I congratulate and thank all of the campaigners and community members who made submissions on the proposal and provided evidence during the appeal.’