By Colin MacGillivray
UPDATE: THE Victorian Planning Authority will host a drop-in information and feedback session on the quarry tomorrow (December 9) from 11am to 1pm at the Greater Beveridge Community Centre, corner of Lithgow Street and, Mandalay Circuit.
The session is free to attend and no bookings are required.
PREVIOUSLY: MITCHELL Shire Council has reiterated its belief that a ministerial advisory committee’s power to scrap plans for a quarry south of Wallan is limited after a spokesperson for Planning Minister Richard Wynne denied the project was a ‘done deal’.
As reported in last week’s edition of the Review, the spokesperson said the terms of reference guiding the ministerial advisory committee – which will make a final recommendation to Mr Wynne regarding the quarry – did ‘not remove the committee’s ability to recommend that the quarry does not proceed’.
But Cr Rob Eldridge said the terms of reference clearly limited the scope of the committee.
“The terms of reference established by the Minister for Planning direct the advisory committee to consider how, not whether, the quarry can be incorporated into the new suburb by the [Beveridge North West Precinct Structure Plan],” he said.
“But, for the people of Beveridge and Wallan, the issue is not whether the quarry is appropriately included within the Beveridge North West PSP, but whether it should be included at all.
“The terms of reference try to direct the advisory committee to ignore certain key considerations such as whether a quarry should be permitted and whether there is a net community benefit in allowing it.
“The material on public exhibition has not provided any information about the permit application. People are being asked to comment on something that has not been provided or properly explained.
“This is truly disheartening for our community and is a very disappointing approach to take.”
A letter sent to some Wallan households by the Victorian Planning Authority, VPA, outlines the scope of the proposed changes to the PSP was limited to reflecting an independent planning panel’s recommendations and ‘considering how these will be accommodated within the [PSP]’.
The letter stated:
“In 2020, an independent planning panel considered in detail the arguments for, and against, planning for a quarry in the [Beveridge North West] precinct.
“The panel found that a quarry should be planned for. Therefore, the VPA’s changes to the plan and engagement with the community are limited to considering how (not if) the draft PSP and associated planning scheme amendment documents appropriately reflect the panel’s recommendations.”
Quarry operator Conundrum Holdings’ managing director Ron Kerr said the planning panel’s decision should be adhered to.
“Conundrum continues to follow the recommendations made by an independent planning panel and trusts the planning process of Victoria as it has done since 2015,” he said.
“It urges the council to do the same and to not lose sight of its overarching purpose to act as a responsible authority.”
• The landowner of the location where the quarry is proposed is Wally Mott. He is also an owner of the Review.