Ballina Sands Pty Ltd, which conducts sand mining operations at Lennox Head, has told Ballina Shire Council it is ‘compliant with its conditions’ despite local residents saying the volume of truck traffic from the site suggests a significant increase in its production.
Ballina council told Echonetdaily it had recently ‘completed some on-site testing following the sand pit operators’ submission outlining that they were compliant with their conditions.’
Prior to Echonetdaily contacting Ballina council, residents’ action group No Sand Mine for Lennox said it had made ‘multiple requests’ to the council to ‘find out what action they would take in response to the alleged over extraction’, adding it had ‘acknowledged in March that the company appeared to be over its legal limits.’
But the council says it has yet to make such a determination.
A council spokesperson told Echonetdaily that following the testing ‘it is proposed to submit a compliance report to the August council meeting.’
‘At that time it is expected that the council will be in a position to determine what, if any, action it should take relating to the pits’ production levels and compliance with terms of development consent,’ the council spokesperson said.
Three times the size
The Ballina Sands mine is on the western side of Newrybar Swamp Road, off Ross Lane. It is opposite another, larger, mine proposed by McGeary Quarries, which is set to be three times the size.
No Sand Mine for Lennox has accused Ballina council of ‘moving very slowly’ on the issue, adding that ‘in the meantime the residents have put up with considerable extra traffic.’
Ross Lane resident Kim Wright said ‘the huge increase in truck movements, one every few minutes… have made life on Ross Lane unbearable’
‘The extraction limits are there to minimise the impact on the environment and residents so if they’ve been breached something needs to be done,’ she said.
440 extra trucks
Ms Wright added that she ‘can’t imagine life’ on Ross Lane with a second mine ‘adding up to 440 extra trucks per day’.
‘It will increase noise, fumes, vibrations and [become] a safety issue to locals and tourists on the road. It just doesn’t seem fair or reasonable,’ Ms Wright said.
No Sand Mine for Lennox spokesperson Amelia Hicks said she was concerned that ‘if we can’t rely upon the council to impose the regulations that they themselves help to set, how can we trust them to monitor this potentially new and bigger mine?’
‘This mine was approved by the JRPP including Mayor David Wright, who voted in favour of the mine going ahead. We’re calling on him to direct his officers to take quick action on this issue.
‘The council continues to collect considerable haulage fees based on per tonne extraction,’ she said.
Doesn’t meet criteria
The council spokesperson said it still had not received any development application from McGeary Quarries to expand its operations ‘beyond the approved area and volumes.’
‘The council has received an application seeking an amendment of the current consent to allow a longer timeframe for operations but this hasn’t as yet been determined.
‘The council doesn’t think that the request meets the criteria to qualify as a minor amendment of development consent and has raised this with the applicants,’ she said.
The spokesperson said that ‘in relation to the overall compliance of quarries across the shire, the council is intending to undertake aerial survey work to coincide with the end of the financial year in order to establish a common data base to assist it to better monitor production levels in the future.’
‘In doing this the council is conscious of the need to continually improve any terms and conditions of development consents it issues and in future will be looking to make compliance checking of any new quarry approvals clearer and easier,’ she said.