A map showing where the proposed quarry will be located.

By Colin MacGillivray

THE final decision on planning permission for a quarry south of Wallan now rests with Planning Minister Richard Wynne after his office ‘called in’ a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal proceeding last week.

VCAT was due to hear an appeal from quarry operator Conundrum Holdings in May after Mitchell Shire Council rejected a planning permit for the quarry last month.

A government spokesperson confirmed Mr Wynne’s office had taken over the proceeding but did not give an expected timeframe for the minister’s decision.

“In October 2020, an independent planning panel appointed to consider Amendment C106 to the Mitchell Planning Scheme for the Beveridge North West [Precinct Structure Plan] recommended that the PSP be revised to include precinct-level planning for extractive resources,” the spokesperson said.

“The Victorian Planning Authority requested that [Richard Wynne] call in the proceeding on the basis the determination of the planning permit for the quarry is premature and should be considered at the same time as the wider strategic planning for the Beveridge North West PSP area.

“The planning permit application for the quarry will be reviewed by an independent ministerial advisory committee who will provide advice on its merits and whether a permit should be granted.

“The minister will consider the recommendations of the advisory committee appointed to review the matter, as well as all submissions made about the proposal, including from the proponent, Mitchell Shire Council and other interested parties.

“The application was called in in order to thoroughly assess the proposed quarry in conjunction with the proposed Beveridge North West Precinct Structure Plan being developed by the Victorian Planning Authority.”

Mitchell Shire Council Mayor Rhonda Sanderson said it was ‘an encouraging sign’ the quarry decision had been called in by Mr Wynne.

“The quarry application, combined with the independent planning panel’s recommendations regarding the quarry in the Beveridge North West Precinct Structure Plan, present significant planning policy challenges,” she said.

“The whole corridor from Beveridge through to Wallan is expected to be home to around 235,000 people. If the quarry goes ahead, these future communities will be disconnected, not to mention the negative impact on the people who already call the area home.

“We’re doing things differently at Mitchell. We’re planning for quality developments that include open spaces, world-class services and healthy, connected communities. A quarry in this location will destroy this and undermine the good planning outcomes we’re trying to achieve.

“A quarry here doesn’t make good planning sense and it doesn’t make good economic sense. We do not want to destroy the future we are trying to create.”

Conundrum Holdings managing director Ron Kerr said Mr Wynne needed to consider the number jobs and infrastructure projects that a quarry would support when making his decision.

“This has been a long and worthwhile application, with many opinions and recommendations,” he said.

“While we are yet to be fully informed about the details surrounding the ministerial call-in, we stress that the process is still continuing.

“Conundrum accepts the minister has taken charge of the application given the massive impact this will have on Victoria’s infrastructure and thousands of jobs locally and across the quarrying and construction sector.”

The landowner of the proposed quarry location is Wally Mott. Mr Mott is also an owner of the North Central Review.