By Mitchell Clarke
The contentious Bunyip North Quarry project has been suspended until further notice amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hanson Construction Materials issued a statement on Friday 27 March, warning the preparation of the project’s Environment Effects Statement (EES) had been suspended.
“Hanson recognises that the Covid-19 pandemic has a wide range of implications on the rigorous completion of the EES submission, including the ability to conduct comprehensive community and stakeholder engagement,” project development manager Nathan Cherry said.
“The decision by Hanson to suspend the project has not been made lightly.”
Hanson is proposing to developing a large granite quarry on Sanders Road in Bunyip North with the intention to extract an estimated 130 million tonnes of granite from the site over a period of about 70 years.
For years, the Mount Cannibal and District Preservation Group Inc (MCADPG) have been campaigning to stop the project, which is estimated to be larger than Melbourne’s CBD.
MCADPG secretary David Bywater said the group understood and supported the suspension of the EES during the coronavirus crisis.
“We support all initiatives that will maintain health in the community including social distancing. We’ve had to suspend our meetings and get-togethers because of the pandemic,” Mr Bywater explained.
“Disappointingly, when the coronavirus over, the proponent will resume their EES and the battle to prevent the destruction of this pristine area will resume with added vigour and strength.”
Mr Bywater said the community, which is still reeling from the devastating Bunyip bushfires in March last year was also now faced with the uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak.
“The residents of the area have already been affected by bushfire and the coronavirus heavily and do not wish for this quarry to proceed because of its destructive nature,” he said.
“The destruction caused by the fire to this area will never be made right because it’ll have been further destroyed by the quarry.
“Two disasters seem to be too many, so a third disaster would be out of the question.”
Once the crisis is over, MCADPG will “rearm for the defence of the area”, as Hanson vow they have “no intention” to terminate the EES completely.
“Given the importance of the project in terms of Victoria’s access to construction resources, we hope to resume the EES process as soon as possible and proceed to exhibition of the EES,” Mr Cherry said.
“Unfortunately, given the uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic, Hanson is unable to provide further information on the expected duration of the project suspension at this time.”
Meanwhile, an advertisement promoting the conduct of an open house telephone event on Saturday 4 April which was recently published in the Gazette has also been cancelled.