Councillors knew about sand mine but couldn't say opinion
BUDERIM MP Steve Dickson said he was briefed on the proposed sand mine at Forest Glen several months ago, but treated the briefings as commercial-in-confidence until they'd progressed.
The proposal put forward by Maroochydore Sands Pty Ltd has ignited fierce debate amongst nearby residents, many of whom expressed concerns about the proposal as well as the community consultation process.
Mr Dickson said he had been told community consultation process would be in excess of what was required for this application.
"I was informed that in addition to council advertising requirements, information sessions would be held prior to the public notification period," Mr Dickson said.
"The consultant then advised that community groups had been notified that the development application documents were available on the Sunshine Coast Council PD online system."
He said while development applications were within the Sunshine Coast Council's jurisdiction, he'd happily supported residents at Monday's meeting in Diddillibah about the proposal.
"As the State Member I was pleased to attend the meeting on the Maroochydore Sands project, organised by the Diddillibah Community Hall and Progress Association, to support residents," he said.
"I urge any interested residents to lodge a properly made submission to council. Council will then consider these submissions during the assessment process."
Meanwhile, Divisional Councillor Ted Hungerford said he'd attended a community meeting at Diddillibah Hall on May 9 to consult with residents on the proposal, after an impact assessable application had been lodged on February 18.
He said while he'd attended community meetings, he'd been unable to express any opinion on the proposal at such an early stage, to avoid perceived bias or being frozen out of future meetings and debate on the proposal, as per the policy statement on Councillor Roles and Responsibilities for Development Assessments.
This says: "For councillors to avoid conduct which indicates a reasonable apprehension of bias they must ensure that they genuinely consider the relevant material, the development application and recommendations by council officers prior to reaching a position.
"Due consideration should be given throughout the entire DA Process.
"Commitment to a particular view too early in the DA process will mislead the applicant and compromise the perception of an unbiased outcome by the council," the statement says.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad confirmed earlier this week via a spokeswoman that community consultation processes for development applications were currently being reviewed, to identify if there were better ways to engage with local communities on proposals.