Drilling equipment goes into place ahead of a proposed Coolum West sand mine south of the Coolum roundabout.
Drilling equipment goes into place ahead of a proposed Coolum West sand mine south of the Coolum roundabout. Warren Lynam

Developer 'forced' to build massive sand mine at Coolum

FAILURE to be included as part of the urban footprint in the latest draft of the SEQ Regional Plan forced the hand of Consolidated Properties to pursue its right to extract sand from a key site west of the Sunshine Motorway at Coolum, the company has claimed.

Company executive director Don O'Rorke said his intent had always been to construct an urban development on part of the 500ha land parcel purchased 15 years ago.

However the site had failed to gain urban recognition in three reviews of the key State Government planning document.

Mr O'Rorke said the company had intended to hand back to the community 420ha for green open space in return for approval of an 80ha urban development that would have sat behind trees and shielded from view from the motorway.

Instead it would submit an application in around six weeks to start a mining operation which would continue across the entire site for the next 20 years.

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My O'Rorke said Key Resource Area designation of the land by the State Government in 2013 made the approval straight forward. He expects it to be granted within six months of the application being made.

"There is an under supply of housing north of the river (Maroochy)," he said.

"We have tried for three plans but as of today it is not in the draft. The state and the council don't want that."

Mr O'Rorke said there was a clear demand for sand for the CBD and the airport.

He said the proposal to dredge sand from Moreton Bay and then carry it by barge, park it offshore from the airport and pump it ashore carried inherent risk to the environment, was costly and illogical when it could be simply pumped from the KRA west of the Sunshine Motorway and south of the Coolum roundabout.

"We have plenty of sand to supply the airport's needs," Mr O'Rorke said.

He said global warming and climate change meant only a very small proportion of the site could have been used for urban development which had been his preferred option.

Doing nothing was not an option.

"We deal with certainties," Mr O'Rorke said. "The site is not in the regional plan and there is a demand for sand.

"We are a pragmatic company and if something changed we would talk with them. But I accept the 'no'."

Meanwhile community groups have urged Sunshine Coast Council to work with them to condition approval of the proposed sand mine to ensure the least disruption to residents and the environment.

The first stage application is expected to cover the southern end of the KRA boundaries where Consolidated Properties has identified 10 million cubic metres of possible extraction of which 5.7 milion cubic metres was high grade sand.

Development Watch president Lyn Saxton said a KRA designation was a powerful planning right but that did not mean the council could not meet with it, Coolum Residents Association and Sunshine Coast Environment Council to create a set of reasonable conditions around any approval.

Ms Saxton said the Development Watch Committee had yet to formally discuss the proposal and adopt a position but called on the council to be prepared to work with the three groups rather than ignore them.

She said the site contained areas of remnant vegetation the clearing of which was regulated by the Department of the Environment and Resource Management.

A spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources and Mines said KRAs were a planning tool which protected regionally-significant resources from encroachment by incompatible developments such as housing.

"It's important to note that even if an individual or company owns land within a KRA it does not give them a right to develop the resource," the spokesperson said.

"Development approvals still need to be assessed by local governments and the Department of Environment and Heritage and other relevant departments."

Final designation of the site as a KRA occurred in December, 2013.



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