New South Wales
To Whom this May Concern,
I appreciate your Notice of Exhibition and invitation to comment on the Howlong Sand and Gravel Quarry Expansion.
I fundamentally object to this project for the following reasons:
- Sand and gravel, like coal and other resources from the earth, are finite and not sustainable for extraction. Due to ever-increasing construction demands, it cannot be replaced faster than it is extracted, and sand that is naturally sourced (eg. from deserts) is not usable for construction. (See Reference 1).
- It would be much for sustainable, and more profitable long-term, for Howlong to invest in renewable energy like solar and wind power. Such initiatives would heed the advice from experts and help Australia to meet our carbon emissions reduction targets. (See Reference 2).
- It has long been established that one of the best ways to slow the impact of climate change is to reduce our carbon footprint. Expanding this quarry ten-fold will bring ten times the number of trucks (up to 80 heavy vehicle movements per day) into this small rural town of 2,777 resisidents.
- Furthermore, Howlong is predominately populated by retirees and young families; children under 14 and people over 65 make up almost half of the town's population according to the 2016 Census (Reference 3). Due to their age, these people may potentially have already compromised immune systems that will place them at increased risk to accuiring health problems such as lasthma once they're inhaling significantly increased toxic fumes from heavy transport vehicles once this project is underway. As stated by the Department of Transport and Regional Services (Reference 4), "even though Australia may be regarded as a country of comparatively low pollution levels, and despite improvements in recent years, potential health risks remain. Health effects range from subtle or mild effects, through to asthma and premature mortality. While elderly people are most at risk, the very young are also at risk." This project effectively puts half of Howlong's residents in harms' way and should be considered a public safety risk.
- The NSW Government recognises that the Murray River has already suffered great negative impact due to climate change and irrigation mismanagement. (See Reference 5). Mining sand and gravel will likely increase the threat to already threatened ecosystems that are currently surviving, or trying to survive, in our local waterways including the mighty Murray River. The Conversation reports that, "The negative consequences of overexploiting sand are felt in poorer regions where sand is mined. Extensive sand extraction physically alters rivers and coastal ecosystems, increases suspended sediments and causes erosion... Research shows that sand mining operations are affecting numerous animal species, including fish, dolphins, crustaceans and crocodiles... It is time to treat sand like a resource, on a par with clean air, biodiversity and other natural endowments that nations seek to manage for the future." (See Reference 6). It is little wonder that the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces has not directed that a public hearing should be heard in relation to this expansion project, when you consider the failure of international policy to address the sand and gravel shortage and its related environmental impact of its extraction remains largely not evaluation and documented, as this article asserts.
All things considered, the expansion of Howlong’s sand and gravel quarry is a bad idea for the economy, for the community and for the environment.
What can be done instead of this project going ahead in the way the NSW Department of Planning, Industry & Environment intends?
As per the suggestions raised by Green Facts (See Reference 1), I strongly encourage the NSW Department of Planning and Environment to reduce the problems caused by sand & gravel extraction by considering the following options, which can be achieved in combination:
"1. Reducing the consumption of sand : this can be done for instance by optimizing existing infrastructure, by recycling concrete rubble, or the use of alternative construction materials...
2. Setting taxes on sand and gravel extraction to create incentive for economically viable alternatives.
3. Reducing the negative impact of extraction: this can be done by modulating the rate of extraction to the rate of renewal of the resource, and by determining the acceptable limit of extraction."
Thank you for your consideration of this submission.
1.The mining of sand, a non-renewable resource, Green Facts (last updated 30 Oct 2015): <https://www.greenfacts.org/en/sand-extraction/index.htm> accessed 7/05/20 20:21pm
2. Katherine Murphy, The Guardian, Renewables need urgent investment to ease Australia's transmission bottlenecks, experts warn (published 19 Feb 2019), <https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/19/renewables-urgent-investment-australia-transmission-bottlenecks> accessed 7/05/20 21:17pm
3. 2016 Census QuickStats, Australian Bureau of Statistics, <https://quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/SSC11950> accessed 7/05/20 21:00pm
4. HEALTH IMPACTS OF TRANSPORT EMISSIONS IN AUSTRALIA: ECONOMIC COSTS: Working Paper 63, Department of Transport and Regional Services (2005), Commonwealth of Australia, p. xii <https://www.bitre.gov.au/sites/default/files/wp_063.pdf> accessed 7/05/20 20:52pm
5. Six main risks to Murray-Darling Basin water, NSW Government: <https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/content/archive/agriculture-today-stories/ag-today-archives/july-2006/six-main-risks-to-murray-darling-basin-water> accessed 7/05/20> 20:26pm
6. Misha Ketchell, The world is facing a global sand crisis, The Conversation (Sept 8, 2017): <https://theconversation.com/the-world-is-facing-a-global-sand-crisis-83557> accessed 7/05/20> 21:27pm