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06/04/2014

Mackay gets rubber stamp from Environment agency

Mackay Sugar referral

At the Feb 2014 JAMARR meeting astute members brought it to the group’s attention that the feredal agency charged with protecting the environment had rubber-stamped Mackay Sugar’s application to run ~42,000 trucks through the World Heritage listed Wet Tropics without objection.

Robyn Rose found the approval had been granted on 19 Nov 2013 by the Australian Government Department of the Environment. Mackay’s application was assessed under the EPBC Act (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Protection). The entire documentation is attached here for your reference (thanks to the work of Robyn).

Di Abiad agreed to study the documents further and provides this report:

Having read this document its hard not to get depressed, it is a whitewash. There are a number of inaccuracies however I think it best that others more informed than I provide referenced comments particularly in relation to the Working Group and Public Consultation.
Rupert will be able to provide comments in relation to 1.9 Alternatives (negotiating with Arriga) (Referral document)
Socio-economic impact on humans is the shortest entry (see p 41) acknowledging light, noise and air pollution as issues and
2.7 Social Values requires Mackay to ensure that social amenity and community values are not significantly impacted. (p11, Attachments (1)).
(It appears) this is part of a government initiative to fast track industry through less gov control. I do think it is worth responding to the document, but the response needs to be accurately referenced (times, dates, meeting , attendees etc) which is impossible if no minutes were kept from the Working Group.
However the bottom line is that nothing is likely to change. The only way we are going to make anybody listen is by documenting all “incidents” (road kill, noise, lighting, near misses etc) and bombarding the relevant authorities on a daily basis with complaints. Mackay is obligated under this agreement to compile and deal with complaints so I think our best strategy is to get together a list of contacts for residents to forward complaints to, as well as JAMARR so we can keep a register of ALL incidents.
The documents are useful insight into both Mackay’s perspective on the issue and on the workings of our governmental processes.
Mackay goes out of their way to bring the matter up in the first place…but then they have taken a number of liberties as the “spin the story” so that it ends up sounding quite benign.
The Environment Department, operating on squeezed budgets and marginalised mandates, is hardly able to make sure the local community is even informed about the decision process, much less undertake a thorough assessment that is able to get underneath Mackay’s smooth presentation of the matter and obtain a more balanced perspective on the facts.

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