Separating quarry facts from fiction
Is this just an expansion of the old Pioneer Quarry?
No. The planning permit for the old Pioneer Quarry (which sits on site 121) has expired, as determined by VCAT in 2017. The new quarry site (on site 115) has never had a planning permit attached, and would be unlikely to be granted one as Mornington Peninsula Council has previously reported that:
"An approval for expansion [of old Pioneer Quarry] onto adjacent land (115) would be unlikely given its high visual exposure and bushland cover.”
The disused Pioneer Quarry has no viable rock reserves remaining, and as such, in 2013, the Ross Trust attempted to have it converted into a landfill for putrescible waste. Fortunately, this was rejected by the EPA.
Isn't the quarry needed so that the Ross Trust can continue its philanthropic work?
(a) No entity has a right to cause environmental, economic and social damage for its financial gain.
(b) The Ross Trust has in excess of $60 million in assets and investments and 87 per cent of its annual income comes from its investments - details can be found on the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission website. It simply doesn’t need a brand new quarry to continue its good work. As Trustees of the R.E Ross estate, it is incumbent upon them to find another, sustainably focused investment strategy. With a professed duty to conserve nature, they should preserve – not destroy – Arthurs Seat.
Is there a surge in demand for granite?
Yes but there are ample supplies, with a State Government investigation indicating vast capacity of granite available (over 100 years worth in existing quarries), sufficient to readily meet projected future demand for decades beyond 2050, even without the proposed new quarry.
In response to Melbourne’s pre-COVID rapid population growth, and as a recovery response to COVID, the State Government has announced a number of major infrastructure projects. Most of these projects are in Melbourne's outer urban growth corridors (west, north-west, north-east and south-east) or close to the centre of the city. None is on the Mornington Peninsula.
The State has also identified 15 strategically significant resource locations to supply Victoria’s growth requirements. The Mornington Peninsula is not identified as strategically significant.
Will the EES process ensure that any environmental risk is managed?
An Environmental Effects Statement (EES) is the process by which an assessment is made of any environmental, social and economic effects of a proposed project is made. The Minister for Planning administers the process and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning manages the process.
There are 5 stages:
1. Referral (to the Minister)
2. The scoping requirements are set by the Minister
3. The proponent prepares the EES
4. There is a public review (public can lodge submissions)
5. The Minister makes an assessment
The Environmental Defenders Office conducted a review of the EES process in 2012. They reported that “the EES process operates as a method for determining how a development will proceed, rather than whether it will proceed or not. The process does not prevent significant negative environmental effects from occurring as the process rarely results in a finding that environmental effects of a development are unacceptable."
In fact, only two proposals were rejected by the Minister in the 20 years preceding this report.
The scientific data that the EES relies upon is collected by company(s) employed by the developer. As a consequence, there is the potential for bias in the presentation of this data. The Planning Department does not independently collect data and relies solely on the integrity of the data presented to it by the developer's agents to make its recommendations.