Group forms to question quarry expansion plan

A COLLECTIVE of concerned Hinterland residents have joined forces to better understand the potential impact of Hanson Glasshouse Quarry’s plans to double extraction at its site near the base of Mt Coonowrin.
Hanson’s development application was lodged with the Sunshine Coast Regional Council two weeks ago.
It is an impact assessable project, meaning it will eventually move to community consultation.
But an initial read of the 26 documents lodged with council has seen local business owners, residents and traditional custodians alarmed by what they fear are potentially adverse impacts to the surrounding Glass House Mountains area.
These concerns are wide ranging; from potential environmental, cultural heritage and local area infrastructure impact to the likelihood of dramatically increased heavy haulage routes and fears that intensified blasting and the resulting dust and noise generated by expanded quarry operations would adversely and irreparably affect the tranquillity and culturally significant amenity of the world-renowned tourist and visitor destination.
These fears have prompted the formation of a local grass roots community group.
Speaking with GC&M News, group members acknowledged the need for economic progress however questioned the logic of operating a quarry within the near vicinity of such an environmentally, culturally and historically significant part of the Sunshine Coast and are calling for community activism to look for alternative solutions.
Long time resident, Megan Standring, owner of Crookneck Retreat said she held fears that the proposed expansion would harm the area’s local natural flora and fauna.
She said she was prompted to establish the group in order to raise public awareness, unite the voices of local concern and have a platform that could allow all perspectives to be considered to establish a win-win outcome.
“We acknowledge the need for quarries to build roads to our homes,” she said.
“But we also believe we can find a balance between development and preservation. Our ultimate intention is to protect the Glass House Mountains for future generations and preserve their natural beauty, cultural significance and ecological integrity before it is too late or the damage irreversible,” Megan said.
Volunteer Ambassador at the Glass House Mountains Visitors Information Centre and local resident, Cliff Schnick, said thousands of people visited the information centre every year, with the ambience and stunning outlook and serenity of the Glass House Mountains are key reasons for visitations.
“We are potentially impacting the whole reason for visitors coming here if the quarry expansion is allowed to go ahead and the development in this area continues to impact and erode our green spaces and natural environment,” Cliff said.
Uncle Alan Parsons said he was committed to ‘caring for country’ and working together to preserve what could be left as a legacy for future generations. He said he was concerned about the fragility of Mt. Coonowrin.
“Blasting affects cultural business as well as biological and ecological diversity. It affects our songline connection; the animals, our ancestors, the trees, and our ceremonies. We want to see conservation not exploitation,” Uncle Alan said.
In the development application, technical consultant, Heilig and Partners, found that any blasting activities would be minimal “and no greater than that permitted by the existing and approved quarry development”.
It also found there would be no impact on “the integrity and stability” of Mt Coonowrin itself.
An ecology report concluded that no further permits would be required. “The proposed application is for an extraction area smaller than that which is granted under the current existing approved extraction area,” Gondwana Ecology Group ecologist, Justin Watson stated in the report. Group member and Jinibara Custodian BJ Murphy urged quarry operators to engage in meaningful dialogue with the Indigenous community and the traditional custodians of the area.
“Our collective knowledge, insights, and deep appreciation for this sacred site will greatly contribute to finding a balanced solution that respects both cultural heritage and economic progress,” BJ said.
If you are interested in getting involved either contact Megan 0447 711 230 directly or your elected representatives (p16).