Australia: Short-term demand for proposed hard rock quarry insufficient grounds to justify approval, despite conflicts with the relevant planning scheme


The Planning and Environment Court's decision in Boral Resources (Qld) Pty Ltd v Gold Coast City Council [2017] QPEC 23 concerned an appeal by Boral Australia against the decision of the Gold Coast City Council to refuse a development application for a hard rock quarry located in the Tallebudgera Valley/Reedy Creek area of the Gold Coast hinterland.

The Court acknowledged that the appeal was a difficult one to decide, finding that on balance it could not be satisfied that there were sufficient grounds to justify the approval of the quarry despite material conflict with the relevant planning scheme.


The land the subject of the development application comprised 216.7 hectares of vacant land extensively covered by mature regrowth vegetation, having previously been cleared in the 1970s for historic uses, including grazing and a nursery.

The subject land was located to the west of an existing quarry owned and operated by Boral Australia which is nearing the end of its operating life. The subject land is surrounded by residential development, including both conventional lot sized residential subdivisions and larger rural residential lots.

A prominent ridgeline extending from the Springbrook Range to Burleigh Heads traverses the subject land and is a significant landform feature in the local context, along with several secondary ridgelines, two watercourses and a number of smaller associated waterways.


The proposed development comprised a hard rock quarry for the extraction of material used for manufacturing products in the building and construction industries. Only 65 hectares (approximately 30%) was to be the subject of actual quarrying activities and associated infrastructure, with the balance of the land to be used for buffering and environmental management purposes.

The quarrying activities would have included blasting, operating heavy machinery, processing material in crushing plants, stockpiling processed material and transportation. Extensive upgrades would have been required to the adjacent road network to accommodate the addition of up to 450 heavy haulage vehicle movements per day.

The expected life of the quarry was at least 40 years but could have extended beyond 60 years depending on demand.


The planning scheme in force at the time the development application was made was the Council's City Plan 2003, under which the proposed development was an undesirable and inappropriate outcome for the subject land.

Soon after the development application was made the Council's City Plan 2016 came into force, which the Court held to be the planning scheme that should be afforded the most weight for the purpose of assessing relevant conflicts.

Under City Plan 2016, the subject land was included in the Rural Zone but was recognised as a "non-committed resource" area under the strategic framework, which relevantly provided at section (emphasis added):

"(10) In the non-committed areas at Reedy Creek ... operations only extend into the non-committed areas if it can be demonstrated that:

  1. the amenity of nearby residential land is maintained;
  2. critical corridors are accommodated and matters of environmental significance are conserved, protected, enhanced and managed; and
  3. the green backdrop provided by ridgelines is not reduced when viewed from major roads and surrounding residential land ..."


The Court heard evidence from a total of 34 expert witnesses in areas relating to geology, blasting, air quality, noise, traffic, koalas, quarry management, civil engineering, visual amenity, terrestrial ecology, need (economic and community), water hydrology, aquatic ecology, soils and groundwater and town planning.

Several business people with longstanding commercial relationships with Boral Australia were also called as non-expert witnesses in respect of the economic need for the proposed development.


After hearing from the experts, the Court found that the proposed development should not be refused by reference to aquatic ecology, terrestrial ecology, noise (from whatever source), air quality or vibration. The Court held that that while some residents located close to the proposed development would have their amenity affected in respect of those matters, the amenity of the nearby residential land as a whole would be maintained to an acceptable level and those ecological issues alone did not warrant refusal.

Nevertheless, the Court found that there would be tangible, negative impacts on residential amenity arising from the visibility of the proposed development, blasting, the introduction of heavy traffic and, to a lesser extent, periodic dust issues. The Court held that these impacts would be a constant reminder to many of the local residents of the quarry's existence and therefore fell outside the reasonable expectations of residential amenity under both City Plan 2003 and City Plan 2016.

The Court found that no conflict arose from the loss of waterways and that any flora of significance (with the exception of koala habitat) within the area to be cleared could be relocated and replanted within the remaining buffer area. However, the impact of clearing 67 hectares of existing koala habitat trees was considered significant and could not be sensibly reconciled with the object of conserving, protecting and enhancing matters of environmental significance under section of the strategic framework under City Plan 2016.

The Court held that on the whole the proposed development was in serious and significant conflict with City Plan 2003 and material conflict with City Plan 2016.


Having found that the proposed development conflicted with the planning schemes, the Court considered whether the economic or community need for the proposed development was a sufficient ground to justify its approval despite the conflict.

After hearing from the economic experts and the non-expert witnesses, the Court found that there is a need for the proposed development. However, in respect of whether the need was sufficient to overcome the conflicts with the planning schemes, the Court observed (at [305]) as follows:

"The determination of this contest requires an abstract form of a cost benefit analysis, made all the more difficult because on one side of the scales is the economic benefit to the community and on the other, the less tangible benefits associated with maintaining biodiversity and amenity."

Relevant to the Court's determination was the economic benefit to the broader south east Queensland and northern New South Wales communities from having a reliable source of good quality quarried material in that location, and the future supply and demand for that material having regard to the volume of the resource available within existing and approved quarries.

The Court found that at the earliest there might be a supply issue and therefore a more pressing need for an additional hard rock quarry from about 2031, but more likely not until about 2040.

On that basis, the Court held that the community and economic need for the proposed development was presently not sufficient to justify approval despite the conflict with the relevant planning scheme.


The Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the Council's decision to refuse the proposed development. Nevertheless, in doing so the Court also observed (at [326]) that there can be no doubt the "significant resource" should be protected for future exploitation when appropriate.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Ian Wright
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions