Regulation News

Highway project stalled over clay dispute

According to reports, the stalemate between MCG Quarries – which has a quarry near the Princes Highway works in Ombersley – and BMD Constructions – the company tasked with building the four-lane road – could delay the project for up to 12 months and cost an additional $12 million.

However, despite the squabble, Victoria’s State Roads Minister Luke Donnellan has been quoted as saying that the project would be completed within the next two years, as it was a “vital project for the southwest”.

The road to ‘all-out war’

MCG Quarries’ application to build a basalt stone quarry in Ombersley was originally rejected by the local shire in 2014. However, after the operator applied to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a review of the decision, MCG Quarries was granted permission to use and develop the land for extractive purposes in June 2017.

After its permit was granted, the operator is said to have attempted to provide clay and soil to the Princes Highway project and a turbine wind farm west of Winchelsea.

However, the wind farm’s owner and developer reportedly had an agreement that gravel and soil would not be sourced from a 15km buffer zone around the wind farm.

MCG Quarries reportedly indicated it wanted to set up its quarry within the buffer zone and alleged the agreement would ‘impact’ its business.

During this time BMD Constructions reportedly began extracting clay from properties near the site of the highway project, before MCG Quarries representatives claimed the construction company needed a mineral extraction licence to continue and demanded they cease.

“BMD’s clay extraction for roadworks is standard for such projects, but the objection by MCG Quarries could potentially delay the project significantly,” farmer James Ramsay, who is said to have offered his property’s clay to BMD Constructions, told reporters.

“The clay will be used for the foundation of the road, but this dispute will make it difficult for the project to go ahead right now,” he added.

Further commenting on the stalemate, Donnellan added, “VicRoads is currently working with its contractor to obtain appropriate planning approvals for road fill material for the upcoming construction season.”

As previously reported by Quarry, Victorian MPs have described the Princes Highway duplication as ‘vital infrastructure’, as it enables transportation of dairy, grain and timber from southwest Victoria.

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