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Byron Shire
December 3, 2021

Ballina mayor may step down from planning review of sand mine

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Aerial view of McGearys Quarries’ existing unremediated sand mine at Lennox Head. Photo No Sand Mines for Lennox

Chris Dobney

Ballina Mayor David Wright may recuse himself from the Joint Regional Planning Panel’s consideration of a development application that would see a massive increase in sand mining at one of Lennox Head’s two remaining sites.

Mayor Wright told Echonetdaily, ‘I’ve been in council for a long time and I honestly can’t remember if I’ve worked on this one before but I’ll discuss it with council staff and if necessary I’ll remove myself from the panel if I think there’s a conflict.’

Submission extension considered

But Cr Wright said the council would not automatically extend the time for submissions on the controversial development application by McGearys Quarries, which, as reported by Echonetdaily yesterday, would see up to 1.9 million tonnes of sand excavated over a 30-year period.

The DA is scheduled to come off submission on January 29, the day before school goes back.

Cr Wright said ‘it’s already been open for two weeks and will be [on display] for nearly two months. We also take late submissions.’

‘The biggest problem is that if we don’t deal with it will be deemed refusal.’

But he added ‘if it looks like there’s plenty coming in in January there’s no problem to extend it for another two weeks.

‘I have discussed it with the GM and we will wait to see how many submissions come in during January.’

Proponent supports extension

The mayor’s comments come after the planner acting for the proponent himself expressed surprise at the timing of the DA’s exhibition.

‘I just thought I would let you know we are more than happy for the exhibition to be extended. In fact, we too were a little surprised that the exhibition is programmed for over the Christmas break,’ Steve Connelly from Planners North said in a letter to Echonetdaily.

‘We were anticipating that exhibition would not have commenced until school went back,’ he said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Wright said his major concern was the adjacent quarry operated by Ballina Sands, who he said ‘have breached their conditions, no matter which way you look at it.’

Ballina Council is currently considering whether to take that mine’s operators to the Land and Environment Court.

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  1. This story gets more bizarre every day.

    The Mayor wants to excuse himself maybe so his vote is not on record. How about you go on the Panel Mayor David Wright and vote NO if you think its against community interests? That’s what we elected you for.

    And wonderful after 10 months of denial that council has agreed that Ballina Sands are over limits.

    And the Town Planner wants more time for community consultation but council says NO

    It must be the silly season


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