A proposal to quarry 17 million tonnes of basalt in Wallan, 50km north of Melbourne, has been turned down by the Mitchell Shire Council.
The development, proposed by family-owned Conundrum Holdings, was rejected on environmental, planning, aesthetic and social grounds by an independent officer’s report.
One concern listed by the report was the negative impacts on the Northern Growth Corridor, despite Conundrum explaining the quarry is expected to have a lifespan of around 30 years.
“The site has already been deemed ‘not for waste’ and will be rehabilitated and beautified, adding value to the area and a wonderful parkland legacy,” Conundrum’s website explains. “This is the natural and best-use life cycle of the land right now with PSP housing still decades away from the site.”
In an article for the North Central Review, Cr Christine Banks represented the concerns of locals in regard to increased traffic as a result of the quarry.
“People move out here for peace and quiet and fresh air, and I don’t think [the quarry application is] in any way compatible with that way of life,” she said.
Conundrum Holdings answered this concern on their website and said the Council’s decision was concerning.
“All traffic will have to use a purpose-built, sealed and signalised access road that will provide the safest and most direct route [to local highways],” the company’s website states.
Conundrum Holdings said the North Central Quarry was projected to support 1500 wholesale customers and 700 suppliers, but Mitchell Shire Council Deputy Mayor Nathan Clark said the number of jobs to be created as a direct result of the quarry was just 27 and not enough to warrant its approval.
In a statement, Conundrum expressed its disappointment in the Council’s care for its constituents: “Mitchell Shire Council has again chosen to turn its back on this significant rock resource and the diverse job opportunities which underpin this essential industry.”
Further issues with the proposal included impacts to the landscape character and social impacts on the wider community.
Conundrum has addressed and countered all the major issues found with its proposal on its website. The company is now expected to submit a review of the decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.