Background Info

Mount Cotton is a suburb with mixed residential communities and Queensland’s most significant coastal koala habitat. It is nestled between Redland/Logan Cities and Springwood.  The recent acquisition of a large parcel of land that has regionally significant Koala habitat and unique cloud rainforest by Melbourne based quarry operator, Barro Group has alarmed the community. Since the purchase environmental and vegetation protection overlays have been removed by the State Government. These have been replaced with a quarry overlay that will result in a quarry pit 1km across with a depth below sea level. In the process significant habitat and creek systems will be lost and the communities of Redlands, Logan and Springwood will be exposed to silica dust plumes along with up to 80,000 heavy truck movements annually

The existing quarry is operated by the Barro Group, an interstate quarrying and concrete business, which has owned and operated the present quarry since 1992. In 2004 Barro purchased an adjoining former grazing property of 80 hectares, much of this land was heavily vegetated and contain a wide diversity of flora as well as significant koala habitat.

The State Government established a new State Planning Policy in 2003 and included the Barro owned quarry including the newly acquire land in what they termed a Key Resource Area (KRA71).  The only other Key Resource Area in Redlands is KRA72 which is the Karreman quarry on West Mt Cotton Road.  The potential quarry resource is greywacke which is used for road base and is also available from the Karreman quarry.

The desired State Planning Policy Outcome is to “identify those extractive resources of State  or regional significance where extractive industry development is appropriate in principle, and protect those resources from developments that might prevent their future expansion” (p1, 2.1 State Planning Policy 2/07 Guideline).  There is a sound argument that KRA71 is not regionally significant as there are many other sources of greywacke in the Greater Brisbane region.

In 2005 the Barro Group submitted a development application for the new quarry site. The application resulted in over 2,000 submissions over 95% were against the quarry going ahead.  The main issues with the proposed quarry expansion is the proximity to residential  [54 homes are in the KRA separation (buffer) zone], the impacts of noise, dust, flooding, traffic as well as the loss of valuable flora and fauna habitat.

The Redlands Council rejected the development application, so the Barro Group appealed the decision in the Planning & Environment Court.

During the preliminary stages of the hearing, it was pointed out that Barro’s development application failed to recognise the existence of a public road reserve, which transacted its current quarry but also affected its new development.  Initially Barro denied the existence of a public road, but as it was clear from its own documentation showed that a road existed, it hastily re-submitted a revised plan, which took all plant and equipment off the road reserve.

Even so as the road is a State resource, Barro had failed to obtain authorisation from the Department of Natural Resources & Mines (now part of DERM) to utilise the road reserve in its development application.  The Court found that Barro’s development application was not properly made and the case was dismissed.  In explicably Barro appealed this decision in the Court of Appeal  in July 2009 and again lost. Its only available avenue to proceed with its new quarry is to submit a totally new development application. As at May 2010, no new application has been lodged. It is considered by some that Barro will await the 2011 Council elections in the hope of a more development biased Council approving the new application.