Tomsy's Timber Pty Ltd v Clarence Valley Council & Elland Preservation Organisation Inc

Tomsy's Timbers planned to place a major sawmill development and operation on environmentally significant rural land in the Clarence Valley.

EDO NSW Northern Rivers acted for the Elland Preservation Organisation Inc (EPO). EPO was concerned about the impacts a proposed major sawmill development would have on the natural rural environment. The development was proposed on environmentally constrained land and at the top of a water course that feeds directly into a significant wetland before feeding into the Orara River.

Clarence Valley Council refused the development application lodged by Tomsy's Timbers (the sawmill company) on three separate occasions on a number of legal and environmental grounds. Further, Clarence Valley Council has a sustainability initiative and Industrial Lands Strategy that when applied concludes that this type of major industrial development should only be considered on lands appropriately zoned industrial. Tomsy's Timbers appealed to the Land and Environment Court challenging Council's refusal.

As the proposal was designated development, EPO joined the proceedings and raised a number of environmental matters that Council was not raising in its case. The main arguments put to the Court by EPO were that the proposal would have an unacceptable impact on water quality and cause water pollution and it would adversely affect threatened species. Further the Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the proponent was substantially inadequate and did not comply with the statutory requirements relating to EIS.    

The proceedings were initiated by Tomsy's Timbers in April 2008. After the EPO filed its expert evidence in the matter, only 2 weeks before a 5 day hearing was scheduled, Tomsy's Timbers argued in Court to discontinue the proceedings. EPO had no alternative to settle its objection to the discontinuance, however, it did so on the basis that Tomsy's pay its costs incurred to date.