Tribunal backs council in rejection of quarry

In October 2013, Moyne Shire Council refused a work permit for a new limestone quarry in Crossley, in Victoria’s southwest.

The proposal, which was initially lodged in February 2011, was to extract fine grain white and yellow limestone from a 2.2ha extraction area within the 11.6ha site at Crossley. The limestone reserve was estimated to contain between 200,000 and 300,000 cubic metres, with an estimated lifespan of three to four years. The annual extraction rate was expected to be around 50,000m3 but it was noted that “output would vary according to demand”.

Although the council’s planning officers originally recommended conditional approval of the project, there were more than 70 community objections, and the council ultimately refused the quarry work permit.

The council ruled that the proposal could potentially contaminate groundwater resources in the Yangery Catchment and the proposed site would be on land that is supposed to be used for agricultural production. The proposal also did not satisfy the separation distances necessary for such a quarry and it was believed that its operation would cause disturbance within the neighbourhood, particularly with regards to noise impacts on a nearby residential property.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) recently upheld the council’s decision in court when the proposed quarry site owners, Barrie and Carole Gibson, requested a review.

VCAT’s ruling stated the council planning officer report “identified similar issues about noise, dust and impact to groundwater as we have done”.

“Unlike the officer however, we do not accept that these issues, particularly the risk of groundwater impacts, but also noise and dust can be satisfactorily addressed through permit conditions,” the ruling added.

VCAT refused to grant the work permit and stated that a “reconsideration of the proposal” was required.

The recent decision is yet another setback for the quarry site which was initially licensed in August 1991. In 2009, misinformation that the site’s planning permit was still active led to the commencement and then the quick cessation of extraction work at the site after VCAT declared that the permit had actually expired two years after it was granted.

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