By Paul Dunlop
TWO Cardinia councillors have blasted Planning Minister Rob Hulls’ support for a 20hectare expansion of a Pakenham quarry.
Cr Ed Chatwin said the expansion would result in “economic and environmental buggery”.
Mr Hulls has recommended that the Readymix quarry be extended on the provision that the traditional custodians of the land, the Wurundjeri tribe, approve a ‘consent to disturb’ motion.
Cr Chatwin and colleague Kate Lempriere criticised the minister’s decision at a recent Cardinia town planning meeting, with the former accused the minister of making a gross error of judgment.
“I don’t think Mr Hulls has any idea what he is doing to this beautiful valley,” Cr Chatwin said.
Cr Lempriere said she was sorry for the minister’s stance.
“I offer my condolences to the people of the Toomuc Valley. I would like to have seen the whole thing knocked back,” Cr Lempriere said.
Cr Bill Pearson said he was concerned about the operation of quarries in the local area, not just in the Toomuc Valley and said stricter conditions were needed.
“I would like to flag that when it comes time to put on conditions we must be very strict. For too long we have tended to roll over and have our tummies massaged,” Cr Pearson said.
The Minister’s decision followed an Environmental Effects Statement for the quarry proposal.
The EES evaluated several aspects of the quarry extension, including the impact on local wildlife and land stability, before recommending that it be approved subject to conditions.
Claire Miller, spokeswoman for Mr Hulls, told the Gazette that the minister had recommended extending the quarry, but would not be issuing a planning permit until Readymix received consent from the Wurundjeri people.
The Wurundjeri were said last week to be still considering their position.
Extending the hard rock quarry in Mt Shamrock Road would allow a further 20 million tonnes of basalt to be extracted over the next 20 years.
Readymix officials welcomed the Minister’s decision but it was met with dismay by residents living around the quarry in the Toomuc Valley.
Save the Valley group chairman Neville Bassett said it was pig headed and took a shortsighted view of the issue.
Readymix quarry planning and development manager Leigh Street said Readymix would work closely with the Wurundjeri Land Council.
“The EES process is a very rigorous assessment of the potential environmental impacts and the EES panel and the Minister believe the quarry extension could proceed in an environmentallyacceptable manner,” Mr Street said.
He said the quarry extension would be a great economic boost for the region.
By Paul Dunlop