The Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council and other objectors to an approved sand quarry expansion at Calga in New South Wales successfully overturned the approval on appeal to the New South Wales Land and Environment Court.
The court’s decision to refuse the expansion rested on its application of the precautionary principle to the impact of the quarry’s expansion on a significant Aboriginal ‘Women’s Site’ in the project area and the wider Aboriginal cultural landscape.
The court did not accept the proponent’s argument that the project area’s intangible cultural heritage qualities could be protected through adaptive management and mitigation measures, considering such measures to be ‘too simplistic due to the current state of knowledge about the development site and the area around it.’
Importantly, the court viewed the significance of the ‘Women’s Site’ as part of the wider cultural landscape (NSW LEC 2015).
The decision is a rare example where intangible Indigenous values prevailed over economic concerns and proposed landscape-scale resource extraction.