Howard Sand Plains

A protected priority area has been declared over part of the Howard Sand Plains site of conservation significance (SOCS).

Located 30km east of Darwin, the Howard Sand Plains is an area of environmental importance, and is relied upon by the extractives industry as an accessible source of sand and gravel for the Darwin construction industry.

In August 2015, the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NTEPA) published an Environmental Quality Report on the biodiversity of the Howard Sand Plains SOCS. The report identified that action was required to protect the environment values of the area. Extractive sand and gravel mining was identified as one of the threats, along with the growing urban and rural development.

Extractive mining will be progressively removed from the protected priority area over the next 5 years, with remediation of the area a key focus.  Extractive mining will be able to continue in areas within the rest of the SOCS and will be managed in a way that will limit damage to the environmental values of the Howard Sand Plains and still allows industry to continue activity which supports the local economy.

Before declaring the protected priority area, stakeholders such as the Extractive Industry Association NT, the Environmental Defender’s Office and relevant government departments provided submissions which were taken into consideration.

The protected priority area:

  • incorporates key habitats that support the biodiversity of the Howard Sand Plains
  • extractive mining to continue on many of the existing tenements in the remainder of the Howard Sand Plains
  • is a practical area to implement from a regulatory and operational perspective

A map of the protected priority area is available here (716.5 kb).

Read more about extractive mineral titles in the Northern Territory.

Last updated: 12 October 2017