Stephen Brend, WPB Foundation Project Officer
Where do they come from? Quarries. These raw materials are dug up – extracted from the ground. A fresh load of sand for each new batch of cement. Because of this demand, Strategic Extractive Resource Areas (SERA) were introduced into the State’s planning framework. Their aim is to “identify and safeguard land with the highest potential to supply material to build Victoria’s future” (SERA-Fact-Sheet-Community.pdf (earthresources.vic.gov.au). A SERA does not imply approval for the establishment or expansion of a quarry, rather its intention is to stop the development of “incompatible land uses”, such as homes, schools and hospitals, that would be impacted should a quarry gain approval.
A cynic might say that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because if a quarry is proposed, the proponents will know they won’t impact on sensitive neighbours. In fairness, an application to expand or establish a quarry does have to meet more criteria than just the likely effect on the neighbours. However, it is undeniable that SERAs help rather than hinder the mining industry.
This is an important issue for the Biosphere Reserve as one SERA runs along the eastern shore of Western Port from Cardinia into Bass Coast Shire, encompassing the controversial expansion of the Dandy Pre-Mix quarry at Grantville. However, an equally important concern for us is the unsustainable nature of quarrying. How long can we really expect to keep digging new stuff up?
Alternatives do exist. Glass can be recycled into sand products, and this is already happening in Australia. Envirosand, based in Brisbane, aims to “provide a sustainable alternative to the mining of virgin quarried sand products, for use across a range of industries”. Similarly, concrete can be crushed and turned back into sands and gravel. As Business Recycling points out on their website “By recycling concrete, landfill space is conserved, gravel mining minimised and the carbon footprint of manufacturing new concrete significantly reduced.” Our hope is that these are the industries that would be established locally, contributing to the circular economy which really is the future.