|Image: ABC Newcastle|
Port Stephens Council will push ahead with plans for a controversial sand mine along Cabbage Tree Road following calls for them to back out of the agreement.
It comes after the state government gave the project their green light, with ecological testing proving the extraction of sand from the top of the dunes would not have an impact on spread or containment of the PFAS pollutants in the area.
According to Port Stephens councillor Paul Le Mottee, it was out of the Council's hands,
"It was all up to the state government... So a great deal of testing had to be done to prove to the state government that by undertaking this exercise to extract the sand from the top of these sand dunes it wasn't going to have an impact on anyone or anything in particular in relation to the spread or containment of PFOS and PFOA."
The state government's conditions of approval for the operators included taking sand from the top of the dunes down to a prescribed level so not to have an impact on the spread of PFAS, and a restriction on operating times to reduce noise pollution.
"Given the amount of sand that's intended to be moved and given the hours of operation that they've been restricted to," said Councillor Mottee, "the state government obviously felt that was not an unreasonable impost on the people."
Port Stephens investigated the option of revoking the agreement in March, however Councillor Mottee says the consequences are too severe.
"There’s legal ramifications… that obviously leaves you open to all sorts of litigation if you were to do that, so there’s that aspect to it.
"Plus, there’s an income strain that would be generated for council in the order of about $20 million which would also be lost if the sand mine didn’t go ahead.
"And, the consent authority that considered the truck movements and any impost on neighbours has decided that the amount of impost is not so great to warrant refusal," he concluded.
The proposed project will see half a million tonnes of sand extracted each year over the next 20 years from a 42-hectare area.