By Bonny Burrows
The developers behind the controversial Bunyip North quarry have signed up to a State Government project aimed at empowering communities to have a greater voice on local mine and quarry proposals.
Much to the shock of locals who have maintained that developer Hanson Construction Materials had been “long ignoring community concerns,” the quarry proposal was announced as one of three projects trialled in the Community Education Grant program.
It comes just four months after the company held a community meeting which turned ugly when resident concerns weren’t addressed.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, Hanson Construction Materials, along with the developers of the Fingerboards mineral sand mining project in East Gippsland and the Big Hill open cut gold mine proposal in Stawell, have promised to engage with affected residents to give communities “a better understanding of the complex processes involved with mine and quarry proposals”.
Despite agreeing to participate in the program, Hanson’s Project Development manager Stephanie Salinas said the company had not “received any further information as to how Hanson can be involved or contribute to the program”.
However, she assured the community would be consulted throughout the Environment Effects Statement process.
“Our Community Consultation Plan has been submitted to DEDTJR and the Technical Reference Group, and copies will be available at the public exhibition of the Environment Effects Statement scoping requirements,” Ms Salinas said.
“The range of opportunities for public participation Hanson has proposed to undertake during the EES process, together with the DEDTJR Community Education Program, will see the community’s involvement in the decision-making process is assured.”
According to the government, communities will be guided through the environmental assessment process and laws.
They will also have an opportunity to participate through written submissions and presentations at public hearings run by Environmental Justice Australia.
Resources minister Wade Noonan said many Victorian communities felt disengaged from the process of approving a new mine or quarry.
“This program will break down barriers so people can better understand what’s happening in their local areas, and take part in the consultation process,” Mr Noonan said.
Participation in the project is voluntary.