The Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Bobs Farm sand mine has been released today, and residents are being invited to make public submissions to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

The proposal involves extracting 10 million tonnes of sand 15 metres below the water table across roughly 30 hectares of land near Bobs Farm in Port Stephens.

The details of the proposal were given to residents in an emotional community meeting last month, with nearly 40 residents meeting with project developer Tattersall-Lander Director, Bob Lander to receive the news.

The Environmental Impact Statement had not been made public to residents at the time of the meeting, but the initial details given attracted fierce criticism from residents at the meeting, as well as from Port Stephens MP, Kate Washington.

Kate Washington said the information given was “shocking and appalling,” and described residents being in disbelief at the news.

Concerns raised at the meeting included environmental and safety concerns for the town, including for nearby Bobs Farm Public School which celebrated its centenary last month.

The project’s manager Bob Lander says the Environmental Impact Statement made public today shows the proposal is compliant with environmental regulations, and downplayed criticism of the project.

“There’s always criticisms of change, and there’s always criticism of mines in particular. There is community concern that this is likely to be the worst thing that’s ever been invented.

“A lot of the community concern I think is real, but it needs to be understood that this application is complex. It’s nearly 3 thousand pages,” he said.

Mr. Lander suggested that persons who are concerned should examine the details of the study, and the efforts made to mitigate environmental impacts before making up their minds.

“I acknowledge that there is community concern, and I am not sure that it’s well-founded at the moment.”

Kate Washington slammed the proposal as a “betrayal” against the community and the public school.

“How could anybody think that it’s okay to dig up ancient sand dunes to 15 metres below the water table and then leave a 24-hectare void. It is unthinkable,” she said.

Details of the proposal also included up to 180 truck movements a day, which would pass Bobs Farm Public School along the route.

Tattersall-Lander says that a consultative committee has been suggested to help the community to understand the application, but the offer has been declined.

“At the moment, the community has not decided to take offer that up. I would strongly urge the community to do so, so that we can open up an avenue for discussions about the impacts and for the way forward.”

Mr. Lander has encouraged residents who are concerned with the proposal to make a public submission to the Department.

“The advertising period we have chosen with the department is a pre-Christmas period because it will extend it. Normal advertising period for a state significant development like this is usually four weeks,” he said.

The period for public submissions will close on 1 February.

Read the proposal and make public submissions here.

The proposed sand mine will involve the clearing of roughly 24 hectares of land.