Residents rejoice as panel rejects Tomerong tip plan
Photo: ADAM WRIGHT
TEARS and cheers erupted on Thursday evening as the southern region Joint Regional Planning Panel unanimously rejected plans for a tip in part of the Tomerong Quarry.
Panel members Pam Allen, Alison McCabe and Allen Grimwood took little time to endorse a report prepared by Shoalhaven City Council’s staff, which found the inert waste tip was unacceptable for a wide range of reasons.
The decision brought instant and loud applause from about 150 community members at the meeting.
Tears were shed among many of the people who had devoted countless hours to examining the proposal, and pulling apart all its claims.
A particular focus of anti-tip group Shoalhaven’s Unwanted Tip (ShUT) was the proposal’s potential environmental impact, and that continued on Thursday evening as a range of groups and individuals were allowed to make brief presentations to the panel.
Orchid expert Alan Stephenson said the environmental impact assessment for the tip proposal was “completely inadequate” because it was prepared during three days in a part of the year when rare orchids would not have been visible.
He said there were “probably” five orchid species on the site, and any interference with the ground water caused by the tip would mean “death to orchids”.
“There’s nothing they hate more than changes to their hydrology,” he explained.
Environmental care was also targeted by Richard Campbell, representing the Campbell family of the Yuin Nation, claiming to be among the traditional owners of the area proposed for the tip.
He said Aboriginal people had a focus on conservation and care for the land, and something as damaging as a tip should never be considered on Aboriginal land.
While several speakers spoke of the tip’s potential for environmental devastation, particularly due to its proximity to waters leading into Jervis Bay and St Georges Basin, consultant David Canon claimed the tip and associated work would have a positive environmental impact on Tomerong Creek.
Speaking on behalf of the tip’s proponents, Mr Canon spoke of a five-metre fence being built around the work site to reduce noise with under- and overpasses to allow for native animal movement.
Ms McCabe said the wall was “totally unacceptable,” and along with the inadequacy of information provided on key issues, and the extent of measures needed to mitigate potential impacts, was fatal to the application.
“The proposed development did not comply with a number of provisions detailed within several planning instruments and controls,” Ms Allan added.
“Furthermore the application contained insufficient information to determine whether the hazardous and offensive components of the proposal had the potential to pose a significant risk and adversely impact the environmentally sensitive locality.”
All three panel members agreed they needed to take a precautionary approach due to the sensitive area in which the tip was proposed, leaving them with little option but to reject the proposal.
While residents celebrated the decision, they remained wary about the applicant’s rights to appeal the JRPP decision.