Quarry 'in public interest'

THE CONTROVERSIAL expansion of Champion's Quarry, rejected by both Lismore City Council and the Land and Environment Court, looks increasingly likely to go ahead after the NSW Planning Department recommended the project be approved.

In a written submission the Planning Department said: "the department is satisfied that the project's benefits substantially outweigh any residual costs and impacts, and that it is in the public interest."

It argued the quarry would alleviate a deficiency in sand products for the local construction industry and the Pacific Hwy upgrade.

It also mentioned the current project application made substantial changes from those previously rejected by Lismore City Council.

A final decision will now be made by the two-person Planning Assessment Commission which yesterday heard views from local stakeholders in a public meeting at Lismore Turf Club.

About 25 of the 33 speakers at yesterday's meeting - mostly Tucki residents - strongly rejected the expansion, citing a list of long-held environmental concerns including noise and water pollution, traffic management and road maintenance and native habitat.

Residents are concerned that the tailings from a controversial sand-washing operation will flow into a wetland already affected by sludge from the quarry.

Those speaking in favour of the quarry argued it would provide a boost in the diminishing supply of locally-sourced sand products, a key ingredient of RTA-approved road base blends used in road and highway upgrades.

The quarry is a sandstone deposit in a predominantly basalt area so its products are in high demand.

The quarry's earlier devel- opment applications were rejected by Lismore City Council and those decisions were upheld by the Land and Environment Court in an appeal in 2011. The new proposal was submitted under now defunct section 3A planning laws which give account to projects with "state significance".

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