The site of the proposed quarry south of Wallan.

By Colin MacGillivray

THE stage is set for a 24-day ministerial advisory committee hearing to decide the future of a proposed quarry south of Wallan following a second directions hearing last week.

Legal representatives for proposed quarry operator Conundrum Holdings, Mitchell Shire Council, the Victorian Planning Authority, Yarra Valley Water and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation finalised plans for the advisory committee proceedings, which will commence on May 9.

The quarry is opposed by council and Yarra Valley Water, with a group of Wallan and Beveridge community members also voicing their disapproval.

Quarry proponents argue the project would bring jobs and industry to the region, while opponents have expressed misgivings about potential noise and environmental impacts, as well as negative effects on surrounding property values.

The quarry permit application was called in by Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne last year after council rejected a planning permit application from Conundrum. The ministerial advisory committee will hear submissions from all concerned parties before making a recommendation to Mr Wynne about whether a quarry permit should be granted.

The first day of the committee proceedings will feature opening submissions from the Victorian Planning Authority, VPA, representing the State Government; Mitchell Shire Council; Yarra Valley Water; Conundrum Holdings; Balcon Beveridge Project Management; and Crystal Creek Properties.

The committee will hear evidence on topics such as planning, traffic and transport, infrastructure contributions, infrastructure design and costings, economics, extractive industry supply and demand, geotechnical, hydrology and ecology, landscape and soils, blasting, acoustics, and air quality.

The VPA received more than 1000 community submissions on the quarry, and several community members and groups will make submissions on June 9.

Proceedings will conclude on June 14.

For the first time, Mitchell Shire Council will draft a set of permit conditions in the case the quarry is approved.

Council has opposed the quarry but was directed to draft a set of permit conditions by ministerial advisory committee chair Nick Wimbush at last week’s hearing.

Mr Wimbush stressed the need for council to draft permit conditions did not signify the quarry would be approved.

“We need a set of draft without-prejudice conditions and to make it clear to everyone the fact that they need to be prepared doesn’t mean the committee is making any comment on whether [a permit] should be issued at this stage,” he said.

“They certainly need to be on the table prior to the start of the hearing.”

Council lawyer Graeme Peake said council was prepared to draft permit conditions.

“My client is prepared to do the first cut of draft conditions,” he said.

“We would provide them … for VPA’s input and then we expect that the draft conditions circulated would represent a joint position between council and the VPA in the event that a permit was to be issued.”

Wally Mott, the owner of the land on which the quarry is proposed, is also the owner of the Review.