Friends group fights extension

The area detailed in red maps out the proposed quarry expansion at the base of Mount Leura.

The area detailed in red maps out the proposed quarry expansion at the base of Mount Leura.

PLANS to expand quarry operations at the base of Mount Leura has prompted an objection from the Friends of Mount Leura Group.

Group member Graham Arkinstall confirmed on Friday that a detailed submission had been lodged objecting to the proposal.

“We think we have good grounds to object,” he said.

“The first is that the quarry will be even more visible than Stage 2 of the existing quarry, which VCAT and the Corangamite Shire Council both approved back in 2002.

“The proposed extension would be very visible from the summit of Mount Leura and from the reserve’s various walking trails, especially the geotrail, Kath’s Track and panorama trail.”

Mr Arkinstall said the group’s submission would also point out the quarry’s likely negative impact on a site identified by the National Trust as being of both state and national significance.

“In fact, the Corangamite Shire’s own planning scheme has numerous references to the importance of protecting sites of volcanic significance,” he said.

“The shire is also trying to attract tourism off the coast and the volcanic landscape is the key to that.

“The site also has a Significant Landscape overlay attached to it, which was extended in 2002 to include all of the maar.

“With that in mind, we would assume the responsible authority will be keener to increase their protection of such sites.”

Mr Arkinstall said the responsible authority and council had a chance to “draw a line in the sand with regard to excavation in this area”.

He said VCAT had knocked back two other quarry applications in recent years – the first being in the Leura maar in 2009 and the second at the base of Mount Elephant in 2010.

“In both instances it was felt the visual impact and the protection of important volcanic features, which is well identified in the shire’s planning scheme, were grounds for extensions to be knocked back,” Mr Arkinstall said.

“Hopefully there has been a shift in attitude and we hope that the outcome reflects that shift.”

Mr Arkinstall said if council approved the quarry extension, the group would consider taking the matter to VCAT with a request to overturn the decision.

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