“Department of Planning and Infrastructure failed in its duty of care” – Sutton

 protest outside the Department of Planning and Infrastructure

The Camp Quoll protest outside the Department of Planning and Infrastructure

Camp Quoll has continued its campaign to bring awareness to the community about the dysfunction within the NSW State Government and it’s departments, in particular the assessment process for State Significant Developments.

At midday on Friday, May 23, Camp Quoll facilitated a community gathering in Gosford, outside the office for the Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DP&I). Camp Quoll spokesperson Mr Ian Sutton said: “Several weeks ago we held a gathering outside the NSW Office of Water, to notify the community of the major issues associated with Rocla Materials Pty Ltd’s Sand Mine at Calga.”“Rocla have been running illegally for at least eight years, and for much of that time, did not have sufficient Water Allocations to cover their actual water take.

“Despite the NSW Office of Water (now) knowing this, no enforcement or requirement to follow legislation was ever given to Rocla.“They were allowed to run an illegal quarry, with the blessings of the NSW State Government. “As it took Rocla at least eight years to attach any Water Access licence to their current works, it meant they had no Water Allocation Account. “The thing that concerns me the most was thinking that this is common practice within the Significant Development Assessment process, and that the way the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) cuts through the green tape is simply by ignoring breaches in consent conditions and legislation.

“In the example at Calga Sand Mine, one of the issues ignored by PAC and the NSW State Government was breaches in Water Management Legislation. “What this meant was that there was no data being collected on Rocla’s water consumption, no allocation being made for Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems {GDE), and no effective monitoring of the impacts on other land users. “Without a Water Allocation Account, Rocla’s water use was not being tracked and registered.

“If this is a common legislative breach within the extractive industries, that would mean no government agency is monitoring and managing our water resources. “Corporations are simply taking what they want, without any consideration of long term sustainability. “The reason we gathered outside the DP&I, is because they are the government department which accepts the PAC decision, and then implements and manages the consent conditions and legislative requirements for the development. “The PAC is an independent Commission that simply assesses the development application.

“The DP&I is the Government Department that holds the Duty of Care for those decisions. “The community gathered in Gosford on Friday to notify the DP&I that they have failed their Duty of Care, and are putting at risk the future food and water security of the Australian people. “By continually putting short term economic gain over long term sustainability, the NSW State Government is undermining the peoples’ trust.

“Camp Quoll will continue working closely with the Calga Peats Ridge community to stop Rocla Materials Pty Ltd from beginning works on their massive 34 hectare southern extension. “The extension has been given approval by the NSW State Government, despite Rocla’s previous poor record showing them to be a bad corporate citizen. “It seems that the DP&I understands and accepts that both the consent conditions and legislation requirements will continue to be breached by Rocla, and that their department will have to continue ignoring these breaches, in order for this State Significant Development to continue its operations, ‘business as usual’.

“Increasing catastrophic fire conditions, decreasing water availability, loss of biodiversity and impacts on our local economy will be the repercussions for the Central Coast community if this development goes ahead,” said Mr Sutton. In a letter to Brad Hazzard, the Calga Peats Ridge Community Group (CPR) stated: “Rocla’s sand mining operations in Calga involve excavating and crushing of part of the Kulnura Mangrove Mountain Aquifer (KMMA), the most important groundwater source on the Central Coast.”

“It contributes up to 50% of Gosford and Wyong’s town water and supplies water for mining, bottling, agriculture, stock and domestic use, creeks, rivers, National Parks and State Forests. “In 1998 the NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation classified the KMMA among the ‘Highest Risk Coastal Aquifers in NSW’ (Aquifer Risk Assessment Report p.6) due to threats from over extraction and environmental sensitivity.”

Other issues brought up at the PAC community consultation last November included the destruction of a sacred Aboriginal song line, hazardous dust, increased heavy vehicle traffic, the industrialisation of rural environments and impacts on eco/cultural tourism. “As with the breaches by Rocla in their consent conditions and legislative requirements, the community’s concerns were also ignored by the NSW State Government,” said Mr Sutton. “The community who gathered together on Friday were able to communicate to the DP&I that these issues need to be addressed,” said Mr Sutton.


 Media release,
26 May 2014
Ian Sutton, Camp Quoll