DANDY Premix’s plan to expand its Grantville sand quarrying operation has been panned by Bass Coast Shire Council.
The council will inform a planning panel that it does not support the proposal in its current form.
And the council will ask the Planning Minister to delay the opening a new pit on the site until the operator has met unfulfilled environmental obligations relating to a previous works authority.
The council will also seek a substantial increase in a rehabilitation bond for the quarry site and a community benefits scheme to offset the environmental and community impacts of the expansion.
The Planning Panels hearing starts on March 22 and is expected to run for 10-12 days, with the company, council, community groups and individuals presenting submissions.
The decision has wider ramifications with a surge in sand mining extensions and proposals predicted for Bass Coast with the support of the State Government.
At today’s council meeting councillors formally “adopted a position” which will form the basis of the council’s submission to the planning panel hearing.
An original officer’s report recommended the council support the application, with amendments, but councillors determined they would not support the proposal in its current form.
Cr Michael Whelan said the officer’s report did not address the issues raised by the 73 objectors. “It would be an absurd position for the council to adopt.”
An alternative motion, moved by Cr Leticia Laing, and passed unanimously, seeks the following amendments:
- “Commitment to a final site rehabilitation plan that takes into account the surrounding environment and potential long-term degradation of the environment as required by the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (MRSD Act).
- “Determination of an adequate bond to be secured which ensures delivery of the rehabilitation plan should the operator not be in a position to dispense the rehabilitation requirements in future
- “Work commencing on the Coarse Sand Extraction Pit requiring the clearing of vegetation to be contingent on revegetation areas being established to a level adequate to serve as a biolink as per the original s173 Agreement with council.”
In addition, the council will write to the Minister advising him of their concerns about the failure of Dandy Premix to meet conditions of the original works authority issued in 2013, specifically to establish an alternative wildlife corridor ahead of the planned expansion of the quarry.
“Council is very concerned at the planned loss of the very significant bushland area that constitutes a key component of the Biolink and in the event that he elects to approve the application, to seek a stay on that part of the Works proposed for the Coarse Sand Extraction Pit until an alternative bushland corridor has been rehabilitated before work commences in this area.”
The council will also request the Minister to adopt a Community Benefits Scheme for the project, similar to those adopted in the energy sector, to offset the local environmental and community impacts of the sand extraction works.
In addition, it will write to the Earth Resources Regulator requesting an increase in the $90,000 rehabilitation bond currently on the Dandy Premix site to ensure it is sufficient to cover possible non-compliance with rehabilitation conditions at the site.
Cr Leticia Laing
"The Biolink Strategy and Climate Action Plan must be considered. I thank everyone who has put in some really strong work. I note that I never received any correspondence in favour of this application apart from Dandy Premix. No one else contacted me to say this is a good idea."
Cr Rochelle Halstead
"Cr Laing and Whelan and Rooks have worked really hard and spoken to councillors outside the meeting. I’ll be supporting it. It’s imperative that we moved quickly to include the Biolinks Strategy and the Climate Emergency in the Planning Scheme. We also need a wider sand mining strategy, not just for Bass Coast but for the whole state."
Cr David Rooks
"I can’t support the application because 34 acres of vegetation – the equivalent of eight MCGs – will be removed. I have no confidence in Dandy Premix to fulfil their revegetation based on past performance. I hope the planning minister listens to the 73 objectors. Congratulations to Cr Laing and Whelan on the amendment."
Cr Bruce Kent
"I support the alternative motion. I would like the objectors to think about putting in their submissions to the planning panel as well."
Cr Clare Le Serve
"I agree we need a wider strategy on the sand mining industry. My concern is still around the hours of operation and the impact on the residents living in that vicinity."
Cr Michael Whelan
"The Minister’s letter clearly indicates this is based on Melbourne values. There is no consideration of local interest. That’s why one of the things we’ve included is a community benefit scheme
"To my mind the climate emergency is fundamental. To lose the extent of vegetation we’re going to lose here – the air supply, the habitat value – is unthinkable.
"The impact of dredging for sand below the water table is really alarming to me. A 14 per cent reduction in creek flow is significant.
"The rehabilitation has not been done. The company has got excuses but they haven’t done it. They haven’t prepared for the extension of quarrying by replacing a vital biolink.
"There is a fundamental clash of industries between sand mining and our main industry which is the visitor economy. I don’t want to single our Dandy Premix. We are going to 5000 B doubles a day going along our roads as a result of sand mining and that’s got to have an impact. There is important strategic work to do. "