In August 2007 an area known as Lot 196 at Maroota which is 45km north of Sydney looked like this - a desolated sand mine with little or no progressive rehabilitation in 20 years, now operated by Dixon Sands (Penrith) Pty Ltd:. You can imagine this as the "after" photo.
But in 1984 it was a perched wetland in the Hawkesbury Valley with myriad species and likely rare and endangered species: There are no photographs available for the "before" picture but there are these diagrams from a 1984 Environmental Impact Statement for an earlier sandminer PF Formations Pty Ltd which gives the idea (via creekline and "perched water table" :
The people who are copping it most apart from the environment are probably the kids and teachers here at Maroota Public School because the wind whips up the sand which apparently after long term exposure can even cause silicosis. But no one in big business or govt cares about that very much. The lack of rehabilitation over 20 years is the proof of that:
We made the second of two pro bono chunky legal/ environmental submissions to the NSW Department of Planning on this situation in Maroota yesterday 15 February in cooperation with a community activist Neville Diamond:
The full text of this second submission, another fairly brutish 3250Kb sized document will be posted on the internet here
, excluding a sensitive appendix B alleging fraud by scientific experts in the 1990ies who we submit airbrushed the perched wetland/groundwater of 1984 out of existence - but proven by the EIS diagram above, and a hell of alot of other evidence in that 1984 and similar 1989 document.
This presence of sandmine dam into groundwater aspect is critical because if the main storage pond on Lot 196 intersects the ground water table (which it clearly does) it must have water licensing under the Water Act 1912 Part 5. The sandminer has never had such a license presumably because it has implications for the fraught local controversy regarding over use and competition for a scarce resource (hence a govt Maroota Groundwater Study from about 1996-8). The imperative of business is to stay clear of dam/groundwater use licensing as much as possible to avoid reconciliation of water use calculations by govt. The business strategy is to say as much as possible dams are above groundwater table and simply catching surface water. Such is the suspicion of systemic corruption of the water use accounting at Maroota and NSW generally.
Notice this from our first submission in January 2008:
We understand that statewide the Dept of Water Annual Report 2005-2007, 2006-7 p28 reports no prosecutions statewide for breaches of the Water Act 1912 in either year, only 2 penalties for the Water Management Act 2000 in 05-06, none in 06-07, and only 1 prosecution under the Rivers & Foreshores Improvement Act 1948. These low figures of enforcement are derisory compared with 90,000 ground water bores and 13 900 surface water licences according to the 06-07 Annual Report.
Even so we can't say if 2 experts in particular lied, including before Judge Talbot of the Land & Environment Court in 2003, or alternatively just got it wrong and betwixt those two is a potential defamation suit and not for publishing here. .... yet, and maybe never.
The earlier submission 31st January 2007 can be found via our story here:
Thursday, 31 January 2008Saving Maroota environment from open slather sand mining?