A meeting organised by the action group No Sand Mine for Lennox (NSMFL) attracted close to 150 people to the Lennox Head Community Centre last Wednesday 9th May.
The importance of the local issue was apparent, with guest speakers including National’s Ben Franklin (MLC Secretary for the North Coast), Liberal’s Catherine Cusack (New South Wales MLC), Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith and Ballina Shire (BSC) Councillor Jeff Johnson. Also in attendance (BSC) councillor Sharon Cadwallader, and Asren Pugh (recently nominated for ALP preselection for the state seat of Ballina.)
Host for the evening, Graham Shaw, opened by saying ‘This would be the first time in Lennox where there was across-the-board agreement from all the political parties on an issue. And that is, all in attendance do not support a new 30 year and mining lease for McGeary Quarries.’
The proposed sand mine awaiting Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) approval is located in the Newrybar wetlands area (northern side of Ross Lane & eastern side of Newrybar Swap Rd) where just one of several environmental concerns is the close proximity to the Newrybar Drain and North Creek.
According to speakers, being located on the floodplain means that extraction could affect not only on the sensitive acid sulphate soils, but also containment during flooding. Possible spillage and overflow could reach further afield into the environment, water catchment and into the Richmond River.
Other concerns the include the massive scale of the mine, set to extract 3,600,000 tonnes of sand and 1,910,000,000 litres of water.
The sand is expected to be used over the next 30 years for the future residential growth and development throughout the Ballina Shire. And while no-one doubts that the resource needs to be sourced from somewhere, the NSML group say this site is not the right one when the environmental and social costs are considered. The group says that even McGeary’s agree their mining has an impact on the endangered Wallum Froglet and Wallum Sedge frog potentially taking their natural habitat and moving them closer to extinction.
There is nothing new about McGeary’s sand mining in the vicinity but NSMFL group say the extractors cannot be trusted to adhere to their word on any promised environmental protection, remediation or official government standards set down on their mining practises, when they are already are in breach with BSC on many accounts from their previous operations.
While other speakers also covered the social impacts and added traffic problems it was NSML group member and organiser Amelia Hicks who delivered the most heartfelt passionate speech.
Amelia thanked everybody in the group for their combined efforts in the campaign helping to spread information to the community via their Facebook page, website and the new short doco style video presentation that raises many perspectives and concerns from a variety of people. She thanked the 500 + people who have signed the petition, the others who have sent, and are still sending submissions to Council.
Stay up to date with the sandmine story on Facebook here.