• Tony Bosworth

Council seek legal advice to see if appeal can be launched over Freemans Reach sand mining approval

At last night’s Hawkesbury Council meeting councillors voted to seek legal advice on whether an appeal could potentially be launched into the decision by the unelected Sydney Western City Planning Panel to grant a sand mining licence at Freemans Reach.

The 700,000 tonne mining project was given the go-ahead two weeks ago by a Planning Panel majority vote of 3-2 – the two against being Hawkesbury Council senior staff.

See our story here for all the background on the green light for the project.

Back in February 2019 Greens councillor Danielle Wheeler, seconded by now Deputy-Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett, put up a Motion to reaffirm Council’s objections to any new sand mining in the local government area. All councillors supported the Motion back then.

But the Planning Panel decided on September 14 there was a shortage of good quality sand in the region and so used a State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) that says a development like this can be granted under the Mining, Petroleum and Extractive Industries SEPP, “for the purpose of promoting the social and economic welfare of the State”.

At last night’s meeting Greens councillor Danielle Wheeler asked fellow councillors to support her motion to get legal advice – ratepayers will foot the bill for that – on whether the Council can appeal the decision.

Councillors decided to go down that path but the advice when it’s received will not be made public, it will be reported back to councillors. Cllr Wheeler asked for the advice to come back by the last council meeting in October.

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