Clock runs on Skylift permit


chairlift gondolaSHIRE councillors last week voted to deal with the Arthurs Seat Skylift gondola permit conditions rather than leave it to shire officers.

But they have a tough task to deal with the job by the end of this week when a 30-day “planning clock” rings.

Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors narrowly approved the $18 million Skylift gondola project mid-2014 and their approval was confirmed by the planning tribunal late last year when it rejected objections from community lobby group Save Our Seat.

The VCAT sent the project back to council for it to work through and approve 71 conditions set by VCAT including about 20 that involve other agencies such as VicRoads and Parks Victoria. There are more than 100 elements in the 71 conditions and they must be approved within 30 days or Skylift can return to the tribunal.

The “planning clock” is running after Skylift submitted revised plans for the top and bottom lift stations to the shire on 19 February.

Skylift head Simon McKeon has confirmed the consortium had already put out tenders for the two buildings.

On Friday, Nepean MP Martin Dixon in a letter to the editor criticised the council for taking the approval process away from shire officers, claiming it had been done for “no other purpose than to frustrate, delay or even prevent the development of the Arthurs Seat Skylift”.

“While I can understand some residents on the summit oppose this development, the reality is that a planning permit has been granted and council have [sic] been further instructed by VCAT to issue that permit, albeit subject to numerous strict conditions,” he said.

He said the VCAT ruling was “extensive, thorough and addressed all of the relevant issues in detail”.

Mr Dixon said he doubted councillors had “the technical expertise to defend their decision if it is contrary to this level of expert advice”.

Mr Dixon said the council “will now be forced to line by line second-guess the recommendations from experts such as DELWP [Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning], CFA, police, Emergency Management Victoria as well council’s own CEO [Carl Cowie] and their own professional experts”.

At the council meeting, Nepean Ward councillor Hugh Fraser said the council had a duty to ensure the plans that went to VCAT were not materially different to the ones submitted to the council.

He said plans for protection of heritage, vegetation and landscape, fire safety, conservation and environment, waste management, emergency management and others should be approved by councillors.

Asked about Mr Dixon’s comments, he told The News: “All the matters raised by Martin [Dixon] were debated in public in the chamber at the council meeting on Tuesday and dealt with in the course of debate. VCAT has requested council to deal with the secondary consents and the extensive plans, which the VCAT conditions require to be provided to council.

“The matters that these plans deal with are vital to the amenity and safety of residents and those who will use the gondola. The public interest requires that these important matters will be dealt with by council in an open, transparent and democratic manner and with the urgency and importance required by the conditions.”


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