Sand firm asks to mine Southgate dunes more freely

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Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian

Midwest Sand Supplies has applied for a five-year licence to take agricultural lime sand from the northeast corner of Southgate Dunes on Geraldton’s outskirts.

The City of Greater Geraldton has allowed the company to extract a set amount of sand annually for some years over that part of the dunes.

The City’s urban and regional manager Murray Connell said the highly mobile dunes would otherwise travel at a rate of about 10m a year, threatening North West Coastal Highway and Wandina. In a 24-minute council briefing, coastal engineer Alex Clapin, contracted to Midwest Sand Supplies, said the company had development approval to extract 158,000 tonnes each year.

“However the quantity of sand extracted is entirely dependent on demand from farmers depending on the season they’re having,” he said. “To allow flexibility to meet user demand we request that the City use a long-term averaging approach to determine the acceptable quantities.

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“This would be allowing quantities under the 158,000 tonnes-per-year limit to be rolled over and used in subsequent years.”

Mr Clapin said the company was not asking to take more sand than it would have if it had taken its full quota each year.

In response to a question from Deputy Mayor Neil McIlwaine, he said the company’s activities would not encroach on an Aboriginal heritage site on another block to the south.

The land being mined is one of numerous blocks acquired by Perth company Bayform Holdings which had long-term plans to turn the dunes into a new suburb. In June last year WA Planning Minister Rita Saffioti quashed these plans, telling the City the dunes would keep their parks and recreation zoning.

In his report to the council, Mr Connell said the existing approved extraction area is around 23ha and the proponent was seeking to increase the area by 9ha further south resulting in a total area of 32ha. “The extension area is still within the freehold lot owned by Bayform,” he wrote.

The council is due to consider the application on Tuesday.

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