Quarry conundrum

By Jackson Russell

Mitchell Shire Council has raised its concern regarding the proposed inclusion of a quarry within the Beveridge North West Precinct Structure Plan.

Council claims it was ‘blindsided’ by an independent planning panel decision to recommend a quarry in an area south of Wallan.

It has urged Minister for Planning Richard Wynne to intervene and reject the planning panel’s recommendation.

The council is also seeking an explanation from the Victorian Planning Authority regarding the panel’s decision decided to support a quarry in the middle of a new suburb in the face of opposition from council and other agencies.

The quarry was a late inclusion in the plan after it had already gone through a community consultation process without the quarry present in the plans.

Council said the quarry’s inclusion was contrary to the vision, design and plan shared with the community and also goes against government advice from 2018.

A council statement said it had not ruled out further legal challenges if the panel’s recommendation was supported.

Council chief executive Brett Luxford said the quarry would destroy the amenity of the area and have a profound affect on its existing and future communities.

“The Planning Panel’s recommendation to support a quarry will kill our community and its way of life,” he said.

“Our growth corridor is already home to two quarries, one at Mount Fraser and a VCAT-approved quarry in Wallan East. We are seen as the dumping ground for quarries to service the needs of other parts of Melbourne.

“Alongside us at the recent Planning Panel were six highly-regarded strategic planning experts who provided evidence to the panel.

“All these people arrived at the same conclusion – that a quarry in this location would be fatal to the desired outcomes outlined in key State Government planning policy, PSP Guidelines and the PSP Vision for this area.

“We believe the VPA has substantial strategic justification to disagree with the panel’s recommendation and to proceed with adopting Amendment C106 to the Mitchell Planning Scheme without the need to contemplate a quarry in this location.”

Council said three out of 18 parties represented at the panel hearing were in favour of the proposed quarry – the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Resources, the landholder and quarry operator Conundrum Holdings.

Conundrum Holdings managing director Ron Kerr said the company supported the recommendations made by the independent planning panel.

“Quarrying is an essential temporary land use to maintain our community’s standard of living. Each person in Victoria uses on average eight to 10 tonnes of quarry products every year,” he said.

“We look forward to being granted a social license to extract this significant basalt resource offering choice of supply to local and Victorian small, medium and large-scale businesses, whilst coexisting and continuing to support the economic growth of our community now and into the future.

“We are proud of the quarrying industry, its contribution to our state, and look forward to continuing working with our local community over the coming years to create choice, opportunity and build an example for current and future generations.”

A government spokesperson said the Victorian Planning Authority was reviewing the recommendations of the independent planning panel.

“The amendment must make its way through the formal planning scheme process before a decision can be made,” the spokesperson said.

*The landowner of the location where the quarry is proposed is Wally Mott. He is also an owner of the Review.