400 submissions objecting to a proposed large scale sand excavation in the Lower Freshwater delta, have been lodged with Cairns Regional Council.
The permit, if granted, will be in effect for up to 20-years. The site borders neighbouring semi-rural properties, and is close to a school. With a well-organised and co-ordinated local campaign, it's unlikely that this application will be supported by the majority of Council.
"I think it's shocking, absolutely shocking," Cairns Regional Mayor Margaret Cochrane told a residents' meeting in Freshwater about the plan to excavate the site.
Dust pollution, increased traffic and potential dumping at the site are the primary reasons locals are banding together to object.
There are already three active sand mines on the Barron and Thomatis deltas, with extensions being sought by Pioneer who operate a site at Kamerunga. They are hoping to dig up the land which occupied the original Smithfield township.
Like the proposed waterpark at the Dillon Road site, a moratorium in the Barron River delta should be called for on all development in the catchment. It would be hypocritical and inconsistent for Council to refuse permission to excavate sand in one part, yet allow a commercial development to occur just two kilometers away.
Locals say that if this mine goes ahead, the beauty and quality of the Lower Freshwater area will be ruined. There are two schools 350 metres from the mining area.
Sandmining produces fine silica dust that contains 'crystalline silica' — a class one carcinogen which causes cancer and silicosis, an incurable disease.
Residents in the Kamerunga, Freshwater and Redlynch suburbs are concerned the quality of life will be upturned. Trucks will use public roads hundreds of times per week, passing through narrow rural roads. There is also valid concerns that the empty sand mines will be turned into landfills that are filled back up with rubbish, as is the case with Northern Sands facility just North of the Holloways Beach roundabout.
Concern has also been raised about contamination of bore water.
It is expected that the application will be formally heard by Council late October or early November.
Here's some of the locals, including Councillor Cochrane, discussing reason why the sandmine is not welcome.