‘Soft’ quarry’s hard impact

The proposed quarry could be on top of this hill. 142498_01 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Alana Mitchelson

BUNYIP and Garfield residents gathered at Bunyip Hall to hear a community update on Hanson’s proposed granite quarry for Bunyip North, which would expand across 134 hectares of agricultural and residential land.
The Mt Cannibal and District Preservation Group, which has fought the proposal for the past decade, has accused Hanson of “softening” the true impact of the quarry on the surrounding area.
Hanson Construction Material’s site is positioned about 500 metres from Mount Cannibal.
There are about 71 homes within one and a half kilometres of the site and 10 within half a kilometre.
The proposal would see the quarry initially extract 2000 tonnes of granite every day, operating seven days a week, if successful.
This is expected to increase to 4000 tonnes and up to 6900 during peak periods.
Preservation group president and former Cardinia mayor Bill Pearson said there had been just one official community consultation meeting in eight years.
“That’s not what I’d call engaging with the community,” he said.
Residents voiced their concerns at a meeting earlier this month about potential impacts on local drinking water, air quality, local flora and fauna, increased heavy traffic and noise.
Group secretary David Bywater said many residents were also concerned about the site’s proximity to the Mount Cannibal Reserve.
“The EES Referral form, which was requested by the Planning Minister, contained a “heavily biased and one-sided view” of the facts of the quarry proposal, which we believe was designed to convince the minister that an EES was not required,” he said.
“The documentation represents the quarry location as Garfield North when it is clearly Bunyip North. This demonstrates the extent Hanson will go to soften the impacts of its quarry proposal by selecting a lower density population centre to ‘locate’ the quarry.”
The proposal has identified that 550 truck movements would be expected each day, introducing many heavy vehicles into a congested intersection at Tonimbuk Road and the Princes Freeway.
The quarry site would occupy almost the equivalent ground space of three existing local quarries combined.
Mr Bywater said documentation had failed to take into account the “overwhelming loss” of local employment the quarry proposal might bring.
“Hanson states that seven to 10 people will be employed at the site when it is in full operation,“ he said.
“It should be noted that the Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre, which previously operated at the site, created many more jobs both directly and indirectly than Hanson is proposing to employ.
“In addition, Gumbuya Park is being considered for an upgrade to its facilities and it would have up to 30 people employed.
“Many other enterprises in the area face negative impacts on their tourism, recreation, agricultural and viticulture businesses, with a huge loss of employment should a quarry operation like the one proposed be permitted to proceed.”
Hanson Construction Materials will commence an Environmental Effects Statement (EES) next year that will enable the Planning Minister to undertake a well-informed assessment of the proposal and address all concerns.
Hanson development manager Daniel Fyfe said the quarry project would provide “vital construction materials” for the south-east growth corridor, as well as future employment opportunities.
“Garfield North is a major project that requires significant environmental studies. In 2016 Hanson undertook native flora and fauna studies throughout the year,“ Mr Fyfe said.
“Development applications are complex – meeting all the legislative requirements and ongoing community consultation is fundamental to a sustainable project but it takes time.
“Additional traffic management studies would be undertaken as part of the EES which provides comprehensive information relevant to truck movement projections.
“We will continue working closely with the community to help provide resources for future development and local employment opportunities.“
Mr Fyfe said the EES process was likely to take “several years” to reach a final decision.
For more information, visit www.stopthebunyipnorthquarry.com.