Case Note – Mary Valley Community Group Inc & Anor v Gympie Regional Council & Ors [2018] QPEC 58

Thynne + Macartney successfully acted for Corbet Property Pty Ltd in a recently decided Planning and Environment Court submitter appeal against a Council approval for a quarry and a concrete batching plant located at Gympie.

The matter included a secondary set of proceedings in which the submitter Appellants sought declaratory relief against a related decision approving the use of a borrow pit on the subject land.

Background

The proposed development is situated at 1944 Bruce Highway at Traveston, approximately 19 kilometres south of Gympie and well located with direct access to the new Bruce Highway via an interchange (subject land). The subject land is located in the Rural Zone.

Neighbouring the proposed quarry site is a business running an “outdoor education facility which includes active recreational tracks for walking and mountain biking, short-term accommodation, and training/retreat/small conference and support facilities”.[1] These neighbours were party to the appeal as the Second Appellants.

Issues

The submitters’ Notice of Appeal raised a significant number of issues including economic and environmental issues, alignment with the planning scheme, visual amenity, water quality and storm water, noise and air quality, good quality agricultural land, need and quarry management and control issues.

Despite the Appellants maintaining all of the issues in the absence of nominating experts to address the bulk of them, the Court found:

it became clear that the evidence concerning bushfire risk, ecology, and water quantity and quality established that those matters, neither of themselves nor in conjunction with any other matter, would warrant refusal of the proposal.”[2]

Findings

The Court disposed of the submitters’ originating application challenging the borrow pit approval. In doing so, the Court determined there were overwhelming discretionary reasons why the relief sought ought not be granted, but in particular:[3]

(a) when the decision was made by the Gympie Regional Council both it and Corbet Property Pty Ltd were acting in good faith;

(b) the relief sought would achieve no practical outcome;

(c) even if the declaratory relief were granted, it would not achieve the forensic advantage sought; and

(d) in circumstances where the Court is satisfied that the appeal against the decisions concerning the proposed quarry and batching plant ought be dismissed, any declaratory relief concerning the borrow pit would lack utility.

In the Quarry appeal, once the Court had satisfied itself that the proposed development would cause no unreasonable impacts, consideration focused on expert evidence of the economists retained by the parties. Ultimately,[4] the Court was satisfied that there was a sufficient need to warrant approval of the proposed quarry, and with respect to the concrete batching plant, would contribute to meeting an existing need and result in the introduction of desirable choice and competition.[5]

The Court dismissed the appeal thereby confirming Gympie Regional Council’s initial approval of the development application.

Quarries play a critical role in supporting the economy as was aptly identified in the Court’s decision: “no one wants a quarry, but everyone needs one“.

Thynne + Macartney have represented a number of quarry operators and assisted in securing approvals through the Planning and Environment Court appeal process. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

[1] Mary Valley Community Group Inc & Anor v Gympie Regional Council & Ors [2018] QPEC 58 at [7].

[2] Mary Valley Community Group Inc & Anor v Gympie Regional Council & Ors [2018] QPEC 58 at [20].

[3] Mary Valley Community Group Inc & Anor v Gympie Regional Council & Ors [2018] QPEC 58 at [25] – [38].

[4] Mary Valley Community Group Inc & Anor v Gympie Regional Council & Ors [2018] QPEC 58 at [76] – [100].

[5] Mary Valley Community Group Inc & Anor v Gympie Regional Council & Ors [2018] QPEC 58 at [76] – [109].

This information is intended to provide a general summary only and should not be relied on as a substitute for legal advice.

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