Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Foundation’s position on the proposed Arthurs Seat Hillview Quarry on Mornington Peninsula and Dandy Premix Sand Quarry at Grantville
A core element of the mission of the Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Foundation (‘Biosphere Foundation’) is to ‘define and articulate the purpose of the Western Port Biosphere Reserve and the values of the region’.
Consistent with the goals of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves charter under which Western Port and surrounding areas are recognised, the Western Port Biosphere Reserve is a ‘learning place for sustainable development’.
Accordingly, the Biosphere Foundation is not exclusively a conservation organisation. It promotes understanding of changes and interactions between social, economic and ecological systems in the region and the protection of its biodiversity.
Within UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MaB) model, three zones are identified for defining human co-existence with the natural environment: Core, Buffer and Transition. For the Western Port Biosphere Reserve, the Inner Conservation Core comprises French Island, seagrass beds, mudflats, mangroves, saltmarshes and the eucalypt and other woodland species that fringe the bay. The Buffer Zone is the ring around Western Port where conservation and human activities coincide, while the outer Transition Zone, featuring residential and industrial development, is where much of the economic wealth of the region is generated and supported.
The Biosphere Foundation advocates for protection of the environment balanced with support for sustainable development within these zones, with the focus varying according to each zone.
CORE: Conservation areas that are legally protected (e.g. national park or conservation reserve).
PROTECT: Strongly advocate for the conservation of areas legally recognised and protected by international and government agreement and law.
BUFFER: Areas surrounding the core, where activities compatible with conservation occur.
EDUCATE: Educate those interacting with the environment about the practices and benefits of sensitive and sustainable interaction with the natural environment.
TRANSITION: Other areas, e.g. private land, farms, industrial and urban areas, where sustainable practices are developed and promoted by the community.
PARTNER: Develop and implement programs with
The Biosphere Foundation’s public statements on development proposals will be evidence-based and informed by its internal scientific experts, with advice sought from external parties and research as required.
Hillview Quarry, Arthurs Seat
Hillview Quarries – which is fully owned and operated by the Ross Trust – proposes to extend a granite quarry adjacent to the Arthurs Seat State Park on the Mornington Peninsula.
The proposal is to expand the former pit on Boundary Road, Dromana to support a quarry operation for approximately 70 years. The project would also include a crushing plant, product handling and stockpiles, internal roads and ancillary facilities. Access is proposed to be via Boundary Road.
In May 2018 the Minister for Planning determined under the Environment Effects Act 1978 that Hillview Quarries would need to prepare an EES for the Boundary Road Quarry project. This was because the proposed project could have a range of significant effects on:
The Ross Trust is finalising the last of the existing conditions assessments, which include ecology, the proposed quarry footprint/buffers, landscape and visual impacts. These studies will include community information sessions and public exhibition prior to lodgement. When complete, submissions on the EES will be heard by Planning Panels Victoria for an anticipated decision in the first quarter of 2022.
As this proposal has potential for impacts on the Core Conservation Zone, the Biosphere Foundation will be involved in the assessment process for the EES to argue for protection of the natural environment and the biodiversity of the region.
Dandy Premix Quarries, Grantville
The Bass Coast hinterland between Lang Lang and Grantville contains high value bushland protected in nature conservation reserves (NCR) and other public land reserves. It also holds high value quarry products. Dandy Premix Quarries Pty Ltd seeks to extend its quarry which lies between The Gurdies NCR and Grantville NCR.
The company is seeking to amend their planning permit to:
In 2013, Bass Coast councillors gave approval to the Dandy Premix quarry. The company gave a promise of responsible stewardship of the environmental values of the site. They were to prepare a conservation and revegetation plan identifying areas to be reserved for wildlife corridors, conservation and revegetation. An agreement to protect and maintain the vegetated areas during and after the life of the quarry was registered on the title of the land.
Dandy Premix is now seeking to undo conditions on their planning permit and the Section 173 Agreement they signed following VCAT mediation with residents in 2013.
During consultations with councillors and residents at that time, Dandy Premix also made a strong commitment to monitor surface and drainage water quality for the life of the project. This included an extraction process that would be ‘dry’ as opposed to ‘wet’, where extraction of sand would be below the water table.
At the time, Dandy Premix sustainability manager Garry Cranny said that he understood residents’ concerns about the water table. “We appreciate the importance of that water; we know it’s fully allocated and highly valued. None of our geological investigation boring brought us in contact with the water table. Our application has been statutorily endorsed by Southern Rural Water and Melbourne Water. There is no way they would permit us to intercept such an important ground water aquifer.”
In its new application to amend the work permit, Dandy Premix seeks to quarry below the water table. Further, the new extraction area would involve most of the woodland on the east of the site. This is the only significant nature link between The Gurdies Nature Conservation Reserve and Deep Creek down to the Grantville Nature Conservation Reserve and Colbert Creek.
If the proposal proceeds, there is potential, with the loss of native vegetation cover, for serious impacts on the region’s biodiversity. Areas with remnant vegetation need to be protected and extended to link with the Gurdies Nature Conservation Reserve (NCR) with nearby NCRs.
The Biosphere Foundation supports increasing native vegetation cover across the region. A broad range of species are protected when native vegetation at a landscape level is protected. The recent Distinctive Areas and Landscapes Survey identified the need for broad protection of natural values in the Bass Coast region. Included in the multiple benefits that would result, nature-based tourism is a significant regional economic driver. There are benefits for the climate change response also, as increases in temperature and fire frequency require fauna to move across the landscape safely. Only connected landscapes allow the free dispersal of important fauna species.
For these reasons, the Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Foundation remains opposed to proposals that pose such a risk to its Core Conservation Zone.