Sutton Forest sand mine proposal’s ‘inadequate’ EIS slammed by agencies

MAJOR PROPOSALS: The quarry EIS has been questioned by Planning, OEH, the Local health District, DPI, Wingecarribee Shire and Water NSW.
MAJOR PROPOSALS: The quarry EIS has been questioned by Planning, OEH, the Local health District, DPI, Wingecarribee Shire and Water NSW.

Southern Highlands residents facing the prospect of a coal mine underneath Sutton Forest are now concerned about the impact of a proposed sand mine just a few kilometres away.

A proposal has been lodged with the NSW Major Projects process by a company called Sutton Forest Quarries, to extract 21 million tonnes of sandstone during the first 30 years of the operation, across a 47 hectare extraction zone, with 12ha for stockpiling. It could create 20 jobs. 

But the quarry faces a long road to get a green light. The plan has raised a near-chorus of concern from NSW government agencies over multiple problems.

The site is classified as being of high environmental value, and is home to multiple threatened species, but 63ha would be cleared under the plans.

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) said the proponent’s environmental impact statement (EIS) did not properly consider threatened species.

“It should be revised to include the koala, powerful owl, glossy black cockatoo and gang gang cockatoo,” OEH wrote.

The assessment of significance should be revised to include the koala, powerful owl, glossy black cockatoo and gang gang

OEH submission

The EIS failed to pay sufficient regard to Aboriginal heritage issues, including a rock art site, and a more thorough assessment was needed, OEH said.

Meanwhile the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) was concerned landowners’ consent may not be solid, and there had not been consultation with Wingecarribee Shire Council (WSC) over using Crown Land. There was no evidence of consultation with the neighbouring Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy monastery regarding blasting.

Roads and Maritime Services said there had been “no assessment of impacts” of the construction of access roads on the adjoining properties. It also said truck movements had been underestimated by 12 per day, and access rights did not seem to be clear.

WSC also raised concerns about the ecological impact on the Great Western Wildlife Corridor, which is not discussed in the EIS.

The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) raised concerns about water quality and flow, and the lack of water monitoring.

Sutton Forest Quarries is a joint venture between the Tulla Resources group and Patrick Hallinan.