Digging in

By Melissa Grant
A QUARRY planned for Tonimbuk is threatening residents’ livelihoods and is likely to spell the end of one of Cardinia’s biggest tourist attractions.
Residents have begun rallying against the proposal fearing that, if given the green light, their amenity will be adversely affected and the Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre will close.
Hanson, one of the world’s leading heavy building materials companies with an annual turnover of more than $9 billion, is putting together a planning application in a bid to develop a quarry in Sanders Road.
Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre owner Ian Mouser said the closure of his business would be imminent if the quarry went ahead.
“We would go away if they came,” he said.
“I can’t imagine it (the centre) would be feasible with 300 trucks going past us.
“Nobody would let their child ride a horse on the road with a quarry truck and trailer behind them.”
Tonimbuk resident Lindsay McNaught, a member of a committee formed to fight the proposal, said he understood the quarry would see two million tonnes of granite extracted each year, resulting in hundreds of daily truck movements.
“The entire mountain right next door to the equestrian centre would be removed,” he said.
“The main issue for the residents is just in the incompatibility of what they’re doing to the people who moved here for the peace and quiet.”
Mr Mouser said it would be a massive blow for the municipality’s tourism industry if the Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre was forced to close.
The recent Tom Quilty Gold Cup, an international endurance ride which attracted about 200 riders, was expected to inject between $800,000 to $1 million into the local economy.
“I would say we are the shire’s biggest tourist destination by far,” Mr Mouser said.
“We attract 30,000 people a year from outside the shire – there is something here every weekend.”
“If we lost 20 to 30 per cent of business the centre would be untenable.”
Several residents have made expressed their anger at the proposal, with signs erected around the town protesting against Hanson’s intentions.
Mr McNaught said the committee had forwarded questions about the proposal to Hanson, but the company couldn’t give definitive answers about truck routes and where crushers, gatehouses and offices would be located.
“Hanson made a claim initially that they would be really helpful and share information they were getting from various consultants they have employed,” Mr McNaught said.
“They’ve since retracted that – they don’t want to give us reports.”
Mr McNaught said he understood that Hanson would submit a planning application to the Department of Primary Industries around January.
A spokesman for Hanson confirmed that the company was putting together a development application in a bid to construct a quarry in Tonimbuk, but didn’t give a timeframe.
“Any proposal would have to meet the current strict planning and environmental legislation,” he said.
“Hanson will ensure local residents are kept informed of relevant developments in line with the planning application.”
The spokesman said it was too early to divulge further details about the proposal.
Mr McNaught has urged residents to attend a meeting to discuss the plans on Tuesday 27 October at the equestrian centre at 7.30pm.