The Community Alliance for Byron Shire (CABS) has strongly objected to a development application (DA) for a landscaping supplies business in Myocum Road at the current site of a large sand and gravel stockpile.
The stockpile was cleared as ‘legal’ by Byron Shire Council last year following public complaints.
At the time there had been speculation about a proposed concrete batching plant development on the property, but Byron Council staff found ‘no plant is either operating, or under construction’.
The property, owned by the Archibald family, is adjacent to Wards Landscape supplies, which is under separate ownership and management.
The Archibalds say they will not be operating in direct competition with Wards and will only be wholesalers.
Sand taken from riverbank
But CABS believe the DA should be rejected on multiple grounds, not least because they claim the sand was taken illegally from land adjacent to Tyagarah Nature Reserve, near the bank of Simpsons Creek.
CABS president Matthew ‘Cleva’ O’Reilly told Echonetdaily that ‘the Archibalds have lodged a DA to retrospectively authorise the stockpile as a landscaping materials supply business’.
‘Submissions on the DA closed today (July 4) so CABS has made a submission.’
But the applicants say they had a right to take the sand from Wiltons Quarry on Tandys Lane.
Despite the EPA last year admitting it had ‘intelligence’ that multiple truckloads of sand had been taken from within the SEPP 14 coastal wetland, the authority concluded last November that it was ‘not of a scale that triggers licensing by the EPA under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act (Schedule 1) and thus the EPA refers the report of illegal sand quarrying activity to Byron Council’.
Byron Shire Council says it believed the quarry was able to operate under existing use rights, but that it had ‘managed to facilitate closure of the quarry in January 2017 without the need for any enforcement action or litigation’.
‘The quarry pit has been reshaped and the land owner has had discussions with Council about rehabilitation of the site, including establishment of a natural wetland,’ director sustainable of environment and economy, Shannon Burt, said at the time.
Not ancillary to agriculture
But CABS argued that operation of the quarry could not be justified on ‘existing use rights’ under the EPA Act and urged Council to move against the owners.
‘It is clear that the stockpiling of massive amounts of sand and gravel on a rural property where no agricultural activities are taking place is not a use “ancillary to agriculture”,’ Mr O’Reilly said.
‘It does not meet environmental or community standards to allow a developer to profit from the illegal quarrying of sand from within 10m of Tyagarah Nature Reserve and within 10m of Cape Byron Marine Park, he added.
‘Council compliance staff have done nothing about this issue and they are now about to approve the use of all this illegally obtained sand, which will provide a massive financial windfall for the illegal developer.
‘It just seems insane that this is happening in Byron Shire of all places,’ he said.