By Richard Bruinsma
Scores of ordinary residents fearing massive negative impacts on their families and properties from the proposed Maroochydore Sand Mine have not given up their resolve to defeat the project.
However, the company behind the project, Maroochydore Sands, is reassuring residents that careful planning and safety processes are being used to address their feared negative outcomes at the site.
Community members are aware they face a true David vs Goliath battle against the project, which could come before council within months.
The concerned residents, mostly ordinary mums and dads, couples and families, are progressing with fundraising to collect the estimates $350,000 they need to challenge the development in court should it get Sunshine Coast Council approval. Their resolve has been proved time and again by the high numbers that turn up to meet and discuss their concerns.
The 105ha site is bordered roughly by Maroochydore Road to the south, Eudlo Creek to the north, and straddles Eudlo Flats Road. A school and hundreds of homes lie within 150-400m of the location.
The residents’ list of concerns includes health impacts from sand dust, noise, the potential unearthing of heavy metals and acid sulphate soils killing aquatic life – including platypus – and impacting recreational fishing, flooding from earthworks and subsequent drops in home values, no significant job creation, loss of Aboriginal sites, visual pollution impacting tourism and a fear the spent site won’t be properly rehabilitated.
One of the residents, Sharon Grant, is particularly worried about acid sulphate soils and heavy metals and sulphides.
Caption: Sharon Grant is concerned about Acid Sulphate soils that will be unearthed at the sand mine.
“If any of it gets into the waterways, it can be disastrous,” Ms Grant said. “It kills all aquatic life. It can corrode concrete and steel structures.
“This site is not a designated Key Resource Area. We feel the risks to the environment and to our health and well-being are too high for this to be acceptable”.
But Michael Mullins, head of Maroochydore Sands, said many issues of concern had been addressed by conditions implemented by the State Government, while other concerns will be considered by Council.
“We have prepared a comprehensive application addressing the planning scheme’s requirements,” Mr Mullins said.
“Maroochydore Sands is committed to continuing to consult with the community to ensure there is an accurate understanding of the project and its impacts.”
He noted it is a sand extraction project for construction purposes rather than a mine, the sand would remain wet through screening and washing processes and poses no health risk to the community, water only would be used in sand washing, remnant vegetation would be retained and screening provided to maintain visual amenity while not affecting water flows, and that expert flood modelling had guided the project design to ensure no adverse impacts to properties.
The concerned residents are now awaiting word on when the issue will come before council. They plan to get a large group together to attend the meeting, to demonstrate to all the councillors their strong opposition to the project.
“Council officers are now undertaking proper assessment of the Maroochydore Sand Extraction Industry Development Application,” a Council spokesman said.
“A report will be presented to a future council meeting.”
Mr Mullins urged interested community members to review the company’s website: www.maroochydoresands.com