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CALGA

Aboriginal group hopes federal law will override sandmine expansion approval



In the photo: Emma Hardcastle, Aunty Barbara Grew, Aunty Anita Selwyn, Sharon hodgetts, Sean Gordon CEO.

Federal heritage legislation could be brought into play to prevent the expansion of the Rocla sand mining operation at Calga.

Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council chief executive officer Sean Gordon said the fight was far from over, despite a decision to allow the expansion handed down on December 23 by the Department of Planning's Planning Assessment Commission.

At issue is a sacred Aboriginal site housing a carving of the keeper of fertility rites and its surrounds along the Australia-wide Dreaming track.

"Our responsibility is to protect the Aboriginal heritage of the area," Mr Gordon said.

"We don't believe this particular site has been adequately protected and where a site of significance is inadequately protected, Federal legislation can override State government ­rulings."

Mr Gordon said while he applauded the efforts of individual interest groups in opposing the expansion, the land council would not be drawn into environmental debates.

"This battle has only just begun as far as we are concerned," he said.

"We know what's in front of us and what we need to do."

Mr Gordon said the land council would seek an extension on the January 20 deadline for responses and was confident of success.

"The government announced this just before Christmas and gave four weeks' response time," he said.

"They can't expect groups to mobilise themselves to respond by January 20 with many on holidays. The politicians and bureaucrats get time off over this period."

ROCLA: BUFFER ZONE WILL PROECT SITE

Rocla materials development manager John Gardiner said a buffer zone would be provided around the Aboriginal site. "Access to the site has never been denied and we will endeavour to enable completely unrestricted access over time," Mr Gardiner said.

He said any effects on residents had been examined thoroughly by an independent assessment process and would be minimal. "The effects on the water table were dealt with thoroughly in our environmental assessments, and reviewed by the water and planning departments and the assessment commission," he said.

QUESTION: A source of construction sand versus environmental and Aboriginal cultural issues. What matters to you? COMMENT BELOW.

COUNCILLOR: ISSUES NOT ADDRESSED

Gosord Deputy Mayor Bob Ward will bring a notice of motion on the matter to Tuesday's council meeting.

Cr Ward said the motion would voice concerns regarding the Planning Assessment Commission's decision and the fact that not all the issues raised in submissions and at the public meeting were addressed in the conditions.

GREENS 'PROTECT OUR WATER SUPPLY'


The Central Coast Greens have launched a major campaign to protect the water supplies of the Central Coast after the Calga sand mine expansion approval just before Christmas.

Spokeswoman Kate da Costa said The Greens were calling on the State Government to ban new or expanded coal mining, quarrying for sand, or coal seam gas exploration, drilling or fracking anywhere in the coast's water catchments.

"We have written to every coast MP, state and federal, to ask them to tell the community what they, personally, are doing about this issue," Ms da Costa said.

"We have also started a petition for new legislation to bring in the ban to protect the coast's water.

"We will gather outside Chris Holstein's office in Woy Woy today (January 17) at 4pm, and hope he will tell us his position on Calga, what he is doing to protect water, and how he is meeting his Water not Coal promise from the last state election."

Ms da Costa said the community depended on clean, safe water supplies for drinking and household use and agriculture, and to keep the environment in good shape.

"Many businesses depend on a clean water supply, and our region has a bright future in eco-­tourism.

"All of these are under threat from mining which drains our aquifers, interferes with groundwater and may, in the case of Wallarah2, crack important stream and river beds. "