Williamtown residents to fight controversial sand mine approval in Land and Environment Court

FIGHTING: Williamtown residents Cain Gorfine, left, and Brian Curry serve court documents in Newcastle on Tuesday to appeal the approval of a controversial sand mine on Cabbage Tree Road. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
FIGHTING: Williamtown residents Cain Gorfine, left, and Brian Curry serve court documents in Newcastle on Tuesday to appeal the approval of a controversial sand mine on Cabbage Tree Road. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

THE fate of a controversial $4.7 million sand mine in the heart of Williamtown’s red zone will be decided by the Land and Environment Court after residents lodged an appeal on Tuesday against the project.

Sydney-based barrister Josie Walker, of Frederick Jordan Chambers, and the University of Newcastle Legal Centre have taken on the case pro bono.

Residents will have to fundraise up to $7000 to assist with costs and expert reports. A similar appeal would normally cost up to $100,000.

Documents were served at Williamtown Sand Sydndicate director Chris Sneddon’s Newcastle accounting firm, Maxim Accounting and Business Advisers, on Tuesday afternoon.

The merit appeal against the Independent Planning Commission of NSW and Williamtown Sand Syndicate will focus on a range of issues including critical endangered species, hydrology and the spread of per and poly-fluoroalkyl [PFAS] chemical from the Williamtown RAAF Base.  

Williamtown and Surrounds Residents’ Action Group spokesman Cain Gorfine said the community had been gutted by the sand mine approval last month.

“We’re feeling very fortunate that the university and our barrister have been able to step us and give us a voice so we can actually be heard,” Mr Gorfine said.

“We just get the feeling that it doesn’t matter how bad something can be for people’s lives. It defies logic that this sand mine has been approved.”

The quarry is expected to generate $16 million for Port Stephens Council, which holds a lease over the land. There will be an average daily increase of 146 vehicle movements on Cabbage Tree Road due to the mine.

A lease for the site was awarded by the council in 2013, against the advice of staff, to Castle Quarry Products, which was part of the Nathan Tinkler’s Buildev Group, that is now defunct.

A majority of councillors from the previous council voted to transfer the lease to Williamtown Sand Syndicate.

Former Buildev staffers Murray Towndrow and Darren Williams are still involved in the project. Mr Towndrow is a director of Williamtown Sand Syndicate and Mr Williams is the business development manager.  

This story Sand storm as residents appeal controversial Williamtown mine first appeared on Newcastle Herald.

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