14.1 C
Byron Shire
June 24, 2024

Lennox Head sand-mining proposal withdrawn

Latest News

Curtains up on Byron High’s debut musical

After many months of hard work and rehearsing, Byron Bay High School students and staff  are about to perform...

Other News

Yogaing out

Sadly, two of Byron’s best yoga studios close this month. Bamboo Yoga has been providing a beautiful space and...

Cartoon of the week – June 19, 2024

The Echo loves your letters and is proud to provide a community forum on the issues that matter most to our readers and the people of the NSW north coast. So don’t be a passive reader, send us your epistles.

Byron Writers Festival 2024 Program

A vibrant program packed with high-profile literary luminaries, and new voices to discover, has been released by the Byron Writers Festival. The event will be held August 9 till 11.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: PFAS-ed Off

Whenever a cloudy day hits Mullumbimby we all know it’s only a matter of time before someone’s on a community Facebook group warning people about chemtrails. I’ve sat in a Meet the Candidates and heard an audience member ask an MP what they are going to do about chemtrails and watched them squirm.

Murwillumbah Hospital celebrates 120 years

A community campaign for a hospital in Murwillumbah led, in 1899, to two committees and a Board of Trustees being formed, and the selection of a 15-acre site. The hospital itself opened in May 1904.

Occupiers of North Lismore buybacks report no eviction past deadline

Supporters of people occupying otherwise empty bought-back houses in North Lismore say Monday passed peacefully without any eviction attempts.

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

Chris Dobney

A controversial development application (DA) to massively increase the size of a sand mine at Lennox Head has been withdrawn ahead of it being considered by the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP).

In a statement the proponent, Owen McGeary, said ongoing opposition to the plan by the group No Sand Mines for Lennox Head (NSMFL), had strongly influenced his decision not to proceed.

He said the group had made it clear they ‘intended to appeal any positive decision made by the JRPP’.

‘Via our planning consultant we reached out to NSMFL to see if there was any room to mitigate our project to accommodate their concerns. Unfortunately, they could not see any way to change or condition the project for it to become acceptable in their eyes,’ Mr McGeary said.

He added ‘, it is not sensible for us to risk expenditure potentially totalling $1m where no costs are likely to be awarded with a successful outcome of court proceedings’.

Victory for people power

Ballina’s deputy mayor Keith Williams has welcomed the decision, calling it ‘a victory for people power’ and has thanked members of the community ‘who have spoken up and voiced concerns’.

Cr Williams also explained why he had remained silent over the issue while other councillors were vocal in their opposition.

‘Being a member of the JRPP as deputy mayor, I have found my inability to publicly comment on the application a major frustration.’

‘This is my community, I am their local council representative, and I have spent years trying to improve the health of the Richmond River and North Creek. But if I spoke out, I would have disqualified myself from sitting on the panel to hear the application,’ he said.

No Sand Mines for Lennox spokesperson Amelia Hicks said the decision was ‘such a great win for the community: when we stand together we are so powerful’.

‘The profits of one company should never be valued over a community and protecting our way of life,’ she added.

‘This development would have risked our safety using Ross Lane, caused irreversible impacts to our local hydrology, removed important habitat for two frog species and caused dust and noise to Ross Lane residents.

‘I want to thank McGeary’s for withdrawing their application,’ Ms Hicks said.

Remediation

As the current approval for an existing sand mine that McGeary’s Quarries had operated at the site has now expired, Mr McGeary said the company would now move to remediate it.

‘We have held off completing that remediation work pending the outcome [of the DA].

‘Unless Council requests otherwise, we will immediately proceed to rehabilitate the land in accordance with the approved Rehabilitation Plans,’ he said.

But Ms Hicks said her group would be ‘pushing for a revised rehabilitation plan to ensure that the company doesn’t just follow the outdated plan set out 20 years ago as it would destroy the regrowth habitat that exists there now’.

Strategic plan

Mr McGeary has not given up on the site entirely, however, calling on Ballina Shire Council to ‘conduct a  strategic planning exercise to look at the demand for quarrying material in the shire to identify (and specifically zone), appropriate locations in the shire for extractive industries.

‘We would hope that the outcome of such an exercise would be to identify our land because of its resource potential and strategic importance.  If that was the case, we would prepare and submit a fresh development application for the site with the protection afforded by a site specific extractive industry zoning,’ Mr McGeary said.

Cr Williams said, ‘I understand the reasons the McGeary family decided to not proceed and I support their call for a strategic review of quarrying operations and zonings within the Ballina Shire. In the end, I think everyone is better off with clarity,’ he said.

But Ms Hicks said she hoped the company ‘won’t be that silly’ to submit a new application.

‘When a development has no social licence it never ends well for a company, despite what approvals they may get from the government.

‘We saw it with Metgasco in the Gasfield Free Campaign and we saw it with the Bangalow Food Hub. I hope they look at history and leave this thing dead in the ground,’ Ms Hicks said.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

3 COMMENTS

  1. This is great news – congratulations to the community for a passionate and focussed campaign – and thank you to the McGeary family for not proceeding. This issue has been traumatic in Lennox Head and this news is a huge relief 🙂

  2. Congratulations to Amelia and the No Sand Mines for Lennox Head (NSMFL) group! Good work getting all the information together, telling the community what was planned and the detriments of those plans – lots of dedication there and determination to see it through.
    Our farming land is so valuable and Ross Lane too narrow to take the proposed huge number of heavy vehicles involved with the mine.
    Thanks to all who’ve worked so hard on this issue.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Wallum developer welcomes arrests

The developer behind the beleaguered Wallum urban subdivision on rare and sensitive land in Brunswick Heads welcomed the recent arrests of protectors who have blockaded the site over the last four months.

Fresh police appeal for witnesses in Gage Wilson case

Police have issued a fresh public appeal for witnesses in the case of missing Mullumbimby man Gage Wilson.

Ballina MP mostly welcomes state budget announcements

Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith has welcomed some of Labor’s funding announcements in last week’s state budget, including a new Fire and Rescue station for Byron Bay and more firies.

Daniel Mookhey walks the line with NSW budget

NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey's second budget in nine months, unveiled last week, was a classic Labor document in its support for education and health, somewhat brave in its slugging of property investors, and disingenuous in its blaming of the GST carve-up for the financial woes of NSW going forward.