By Colin MacGillivray
PROTESTERS from the No Quarry for Beveridge/Wallan community group braved the cold on the side of the Northern Highway south of Wallan for more than two hours on Thursday morning, brandishing signs raising concerns about traffic safety if the quarry went ahead.
Group coordinator Skye Forster said the protest was an effective way to generate awareness about the quarry, proposed to be built on land south of Wallan.
A decision on whether the quarry will proceed is currently in the hands of Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne, who has convened a ministerial advisory committee.
Ms Forster said many Wallan residents were still unaware that a quarry was planned.
She said if the project proceeded, the addition of a new traffic light on the Northern Highway would worsen morning peak-hour traffic.
“This light will be in what we think is a really dangerous position,” she said.
“At the peak of the traffic we did a two-minute count and only 59 cars came through at an average of 40km/h. That’s effectively what we’ll be dealing with at peak hour.
“I’m less concerned with people coming out of town. I’m more concerned about the danger of people coming in. They’ve proposed a variable speed limit on the Hume [Freeway]. Coming up a hill and around a bend, I think that is ill-conceived.”
Quarry operator Conundrum Holdings managing director Ron Kerr said the Department of Transport had signed off on the quarry’s planned traffic connections.
“Conundrum Holdings and our nationally recognised traffic experts spent years meticulously planning and designing traffic-management systems to ensure access to the proposed North Central Quarry is safe, practicable and unobtrusive to the local road network,” he said.
“Data collected from the Northern Highway by traffic experts shows 1818 traffic movements occurring between 7am and 8am. Only 16 truck movements from the quarry are forecast to occur in this time frame. These trucks represent less than one per cent of those traffic movements – a miniscule and insignificant amount.
“All traffic will use a purpose-built, sealed and signalised access road that will provide the safest and most direct route to the Northern Highway and Hume Freeway.”
Mr Kerr said people with concerns or who wanted to find out more information from Conundrum Holdings could email email@example.com, call 5782 3401 or visit its website at conholdings.com.au/north-central-quarry.