Critical industry/environment case in Gympie court today
A HUGELY expensive and critical dispute in Gympie's Planning and Environment Court this week will help determine the region's industrial, farming and environmental future.
The case has pitted environmental and amenity-oriented parties against Corbet Quarries Pty Ltd, part of the fast growing major employer Corbet Group.
Also involved on the Corbet side of the dispute is Gympie Regional Council, which approved Corbet's uses of the site.
Argument began this morning with Corbet's legal representative Christopher Hughes QC, who told the court the case also involved opponents of the Corbet development plans, Mary Valley Community Group Inc and Peak Events Pty Ltd, owner of the Garapine resort which overlooks the Corbet site and claims amenity losses if a proposed quarry and concrete batching plant goes ahead.
The site is now occupied by a Corbet landscape and garden products operation which Mr Hughes said already involved some noise producing industrial activity.
Opening the Corbet case, Mr Hughes said the locality, at the Bruce Hwy end of the Mary Valley Link Rd, was already dominated in terms of character and amenity by a substantial highway interchange and roundabouts connecting with the Link Rd.
Existing approved uses included a 24-hour transport depot as well as the Corbet's landscape supply business.
Corbets had been in business in the Gympie area for many years, he said.
The former site of the firm's operations was acquired by the Main Roads Department for highway construction and the company had acquired its current site, which had been already cleared.
Location of the new site offered convenient access for haulage trucks for the proposed quarry and concrete plant to its most direct route to markets, the Bruce Hwy.
"Existing approved uses and road infrastructure are matters which cannot be ignored," Mr Hughes told the court.
"One appellant, Peak Events, is a neighbour and owner of Garapine," he said.
He told the court extractive industry was a use "specifically contemplated" by the site's Rural zoning under the Gympie Regional Council planning scheme, which aimed to protect such resources for "sustainable use"..
Judge Richard Jones said the area was "zoned agricultural land but pretty much dominated by other uses."
Mr Hughes said the hard rock resource would benefit the Gympie Regional council area and it was said that industrial and other high impact uses should be in areas of easy accessibility..
The development would lead to an increase in employment and would allow "appropriate use of the adjacent road network."
Corbets had commissioned expert reports on visual amenity, quality agricultural land, ecology, bushfire and water quality.
The project's opponents had raised issues of conflict with rural uses, lack of need and other land use issues.
"(The project) would not interfere with other agricultural uses and land intended for the quarry is not suitable for agriculture," he said.
The Transport Department had already approved other high impact industry, including the landscape supplies operation, which involved crushing, grinding and screening, timber milling, woodchipping and compost manufacture, he said.
He told the court a large concrete pad on the site was a result of a Department of Environment requirement for an impervious barrier, which involved concrete on compressed rock.
This had prompted the company to look for suitable rock The approval area had been extended on August 28, 2016.
"Some changes were made to conditions, but the approval went through (with those new conditions)," he said.
The case is set down to continue all week, with two days in the Gympie courtroom and three days in Brisbane.