STATE Planning Minister Richard Wynne is under fire for allowing Hillview Quarries to bypass Mornington Peninsula Shire and begin investigating the environmental effects of reopening a quarry at Dromana.
The mayor Cr Bryan Payne last week said council “is extremely disappointed with this premature decision”.
Cr Payne said Hillview should have been required to first seek a planning permit from the shire “to ensure all matters pertinent to the operation of a quarry are considered at the local government level”.
Instead, Hillview has been given the go ahead by Mr Wynne to undertake an environmental effects statement (EES) into its reopening proposal as well as “door knocking” neighbouring property owners (“Quarry effects to be assessed” The News 26/6/18).
Hillview CEO Paul Nitas has estimated the former Pioneer quarry in Boundary Road, which Hillview wants to reopen, could supply one million tonnes of rock for 70 years. The shire is one of the company’s biggest customers (“Moves to reopen quarry” The News 1/5/18).
Five years ago Hillview abandoned its plan to use the quarry as a waste tip after it met with strong public opposition.
This time around, in a letter to surrounding property owners, Mr Nitas has said the minister’s decision means his company would need to “conduct rigorous environmental investigations into potential impacts on flora and fauna, waterways, cultural heritage as well as social and economic impacts”.
However, Cr Payne says councillors are “very frustrated with this result”.
“Council is concerned the [Mr Wynne] has not committed to fully consulting with the local community and is not following proper planning processes,” Cr Payne stated in a news release headed “Council voices frustration at premature planning decision”.
He said the shire had asked Mr Wynne to refuse Hillview’s request to undertake an EES and, instead, direct the company to lodge a planning permit application with the shire.
“If permits are granted, the changes will be detrimental to local biodiversity and the shire’s values under the Green Wedge Management Plan,” Cr Payne said.
“The proposal requires a cut 190 metres deep into the side of Arthur’s Seat, with very little regard to flora and fauna, landscape, landslide and any other inhabitants of the southern peninsula – it is not acceptable and is significantly alarming.
“Council, together with our community, works very hard to have our voices heard. As the local authority, it is our responsibility to assess changes made to our local townships.”
The proposal to reopen the quarry has also been referred to the federal government under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The shire is also urging residents to “voice their concerns around this development” at epbcnotices.environment.gov.au/referralslist
Cr Payne said the shire was waiting for the state government to outline the next steps in the EES process “which are likely to include a consultation plan and establishment of a technical reference group”.