Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Planning fails to protect World Heritage as giant sand mine goes ahead at Newnes

"The giant sand quarry at Newnes Junction announced late yesterday by Planning Minister Frank Sartor must be in the least suitable site for sand mining within 300 kilometres of Sydney.  The quarry sits tightly between the Newnes Junction village and the World Heritage area, making the village unliveable.  It is the very site where sand mining was refused in 1996 because of possible damage to the national park and the water quality of the Wollangambe River”, said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

Pre-emptive Approval

“The Department of Planning is conducting a strategic sand survey of Sydney’s sand resources.  My last letter from the Minister (29 January, 2006) states that he was working to identify key resource areas and that the strategy remains in progress.”

“The approval of this damaging mine pre-empts the strategy, reverses the site-specific rejection of sand mining on the site and goes against the Planning Department’s previous strategy for Newnes Plateau published in 1990.  Frank Sartor only listens to sand miner’s arguments and has ambushed his own process, revealing his anti-conservation and anti-democratic colours,” Mr Muir said.

World Heritage at risk

“The planning system has failed to protect the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.  Sand mines are notorious for off-site environmental impacts and this mine on the doorstep of the World Heritage Area will damage to the largest and most precious wilderness area in NSW”, said a bitterly disappointed Muir.

“Water pollution from the quarry would degrade the Wollangambe River and noise, dust and ugly quarry scars will blight the wilderness landscape.  The sand mine will also destroy the Newnes Junction Village Common, an intact piece of bushland containing two high conservation value shrub swamps,” he said.

“The Wollgangambe River is the most intact wild river in the Blue Mountains, and so the damage that water pollution from the quarry will cause is maximised.  The wonderful and wild Wollangambe Canyon is enjoyed by thousands each year.  The compensation package announced for this quarry means diddly-squat compared to what will be lost”, said Mr Muir.

“The decision is a disaster for World Heritage and an indelible black mark on the environmental record of the Iemma Government”, Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 9550 3615 (ah)