Shock decision to withdraw sand mine application
UPDATE 1pm: THE No Sand Mine for Lennox Head action group hasn't finished its work yet, despite the announcement that the McGeary family had withdrawn their application.
Coordinator Amelia Hicks said they will be as vigilant as ever to make sure the proposal never comes back onto the table.
"They have withdrawn it but they do say that they are going to look at a way to get a fresh DA in with the support of the council," Ms Hicks said.
"I really hope they are not that silly, because this sand mine has no social licence."
The action group has been fighting the development proposal since December 2016.
"We stood together, we knew what we valued and what we wanted and I'm just so grateful that McGeary's has listened," Ms Hicks said.
She also said it was positive to see the family would be working on the rehabilitation of this site.
"Our group will now be looking at that because their rehabilitation plan is from 20 years ago, and it would essentially be wiping out regrowth and habitat that is now on their neglected site," Ms Hicks said.
"So, we'll be pushing for a revised rehabilitation plan."
For now, Ms Hicks is revelling in the result and will spend more time with friends.
"I think this is such a great win for the community," she said.
"I can go back to working and spending time with family and friends now that this is off the table."
UPDATE, 12.50pm: BALLINA Shire Deputy Mayor Keith Williams has welcomed the decision of the developers to withdraw their DA for the Lennox Head sand quarry.
He said the decision was a "victory for people power" and he thanked members of the community that have spoken up and voiced concerns.
"I understand the reasons the McGeary family to not proceed and I support their call for a strategic review of quarrying operations and zonings within the Ballina Shire," Cr Williams said.
"In the end, I think everyone is better off with clarity."
Original story: IN A shock decision announced late this morning, plans to expand a sand mine at Lennox Head have been withdrawn.
The McGeary family formally withdrew their development application with Ballina Shire Council.
In a statment, Owen McGeary said they believed the proposal had "considerable merit", but were concerned about legal challenges from the No Sand Mine For Lennox Head group.
"Unfortunately, they (the No Sand Mine group) could not see any way to change or condition the project for it to become acceptable in their eyes," Mr McGeary said.
"Put simply, it is not sensible for us to risk expenditure potentially totalling $1 million where no costs are likely to be awarded with a successful outcome of court proceedings.
"Accordingly, we have today chosen to withdraw our development application."
Mr McGeary also said the withdrawal had saved the council - and ratepayers - the "significant costs" that would have been incurred as part of a Land and Environment Court challenge.
The McGeary family's statement
"We would like to take this opportunity to thank the immediate neighbours, who had faith in us to run a successful quarrying operation at the site and chose not to object to the development.
"We would also like to thank our consultant team for the excellent work they have done in the preparation of the application.
"We observe that some approximately 150 people have made objections to our quarrying application.
"We take heart in the fact that our immediate neighbours were not objectors and we note with some irony that the major concentration of objections emanated from western part of the village of Lennox Head, which required considerable fill material to developed.
"Our land has been the subject of historic quarrying approvals going back to 1989.
"The most recent approvals (DA's 1995/259 and 260) required remediation of the property upon the expiry of development consent.
"We have held off completing that remediation work pending the outcome of Development Application 2017/670.
"Unless Council requests otherwise, we will immediately proceed to rehabilitate the land in accordance with the approved Rehabilitation Plans.
"We believe our quarry site is an important resource for the Shire.
"We know of no other localities within the Shire north of the Richmond River where good quality sand fill is able to be obtained to readily supply Ballina township and its environs.
"We will shortly write to Ballina Shire Council asking the Council to conduct a strategic planning exercise to look at the demand for quarrying material in the Shire to identify (and specifically zone), appropriate locations in the Shire for extractive industries.
"We would hope that the outcome of such an exercise would be to identify our land because of its resource potential and strategic importance.
"If that was the case, we would prepare and submit a fresh Development Application for the site with the protection afforded by a site specific extractive industry zoning.
"To extend environmental base line measurements for the land will retain scientific measuring equipment on the site for the next few years to monitor ground water and acidity."