RESIDENTS fear they've been sold out by a State Government minister as the fight against a 100ha sand mine ratchets up.
Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham's declaration that a proposed sand mine at Forest Glen was a resource of state significance has been called into question, as the Daily understands the developer's legal representatives have committed to further drilling of the site to determine the significance and quality of the sand resource.
The commitment was made on May 11, during a Planning and Environment Court hearing as part of an appeal lodged by Maroochydore Sands Pty Ltd against the Sunshine Coast Council.
The council rejected Maroochydore Sands' development application in October last year, after strong community opposition to the proposed sand mine.
In a letter dated April 3, 2017, Dr Lynham declared the proposed sand mine site bordered by Malones Rd, Eudlo Flats Rd and Old Maroochydore Rd to be a sand resource of state significance, based on sub-surface testing, and therefore of state interest.
His Department said the determination of the site's draft Key Resource Area status was based upon reports by the Geological Survey of Queensland, including GSQ Report 1978/13 and Record 385, the former Maroochy Shire Council Planning Scheme 2000, and reports by Groundwork Plus in 2014 supporting the development application.
But the council and co-respondents, including Eudlo Creek Neighbours Inc, disputed the site's significance as a sand resource, which led to the appellant's representatives "unilaterally" proposing to undertake further drilling.
In a letter from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines on June 15, Groundwork Plus was advised Dr Lynham had recommended the site be declared a Key Resource Area, but Deputy Premier Jackie Trad's decision on May 19 not to make a declaration while the appeal was ongoing had prevented it from happening.
Eudlo Creek Neighbours Inc spokesman Mike Perritt said it appeared the Minister had given "tacit agreement" to the developer of the site's Key Resource Area, and it was distressing to the community, as that declaration had been made on historic analysis.
Mr Perritt said the group felt previous declarations of the site's significance were "misleading" given further testing was now being carried out to determine the resource quality.
He felt Dr Lynham had been misleading, and that the community and the developer had been told two "very different and indeed opposing answers".
One Nation state leader and Buderim MP Steve Dickson called on Ms Trad to call in the matter and start the entire process again, as there was too much conflicting information.
"The Resource Minister has already interfered in a court case by saying it's all well and good," Mr Dickson said.
"You can't do this stuff. It is a monumental stuff up."
A DNRM spokeswoman said the matter would be reconsidered once the court case had been finalised and it was inappropriate to comment further until then.
The Department did not address the following questions put to them by the Daily, instead referring to previous responses, which outlined the reports used to determine the resource's significance.
Q: Does the Department accept there was insufficient testing and analysis of the supposed resource, insufficient enough for both the council and co-respondents to raise, and insufficient enough for the appellant to acknowledge this and decide to carry out more drilling and analysis?
Q: How then, given there was clearly insufficient analysis undertaken, was Dr Lynham so confident in his letter dated April 3, 2017, that the proposed Eudlo Creek KRA 162 contained a sand resource of regional significance, based on evidence demonstrated by sub-surface testing?
Q: If not, does Dr Lynham accept his letter was misleading?
Q: What oversight will the Department be having over the additional drilling and testing of the site being carried out by the appellant?
Q: If none, how can the Department guarantee the reliability of any new information gathered?
Maroochydore Sands director Michael Mullins was unable to respond to questions about the status of current testing on the site.