AFTER a hard-fought battle, Save Western Port Woodlands (SWPW) was shocked by Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s decision to approve a significant expansion of a Grantville sand mine despite more than 70 objections.

On November 22, 2020, the Minister called in the application to amend the planning permit for the Grantville Quarry from Bass Coast Shire Council.

Following the approval of the amended permit, the expansion will see a deepening of the existing and expanded extraction area to extract sand from below the groundwater level, the development of a new extraction area in the upper eastern part of the site for the extraction of coarse sand and the introduction of sand washing and dewatering processes.

“The Daniel Andrews government talks tough on protecting the environment, but it’s missing in action when it comes to putting reasonable limits on a destructive industry,” SWPW spokesperson Tim O’Brien said.

According to SWPW, the Minister’s decision disregards the warnings in an expert report by Professor Dick Wettenhall on the risks of sand washing releasing toxic effluents into sensitive aquatic ecosystems.

The organisation is also concerned by the additional truck numbers and movements, as it could increase dust levels and impact on residents.

Mr O’Brien said the Dandy Premix decision was an indication of the government’s determination that nothing should be permitted to obstruct sand mining, even in the Bass Coast Distinctive Area and Landscape.

“It seems like this cossetted industry is more valuable than not just the environment but also Bass Coast’s much more economically beneficial tourism industry and even residents themselves,” he said.

“The Planning Minister is supposed to weigh up a balance for the community between development and the environment and social issues.”

Government response

According to the state government, the amended planning permit includes requirements for Dandy Premix to secure conservation and rehabilitation obligations and to commit to offset arrangements through the preparation and approval of an Offset Management Plan, revegetation programs, and end-of-life rehabilitation in consultation with the local community.

The government added that before any work can commence, the quarry operator must now address the conditions set in the Minister’s approval and seek approval from the Earth Resources Regulator for a final Work Plan.

“The Minister for Planning approved the amended permit for the Dandy premix Quarry at Grantville following a review by a planning panel,” Victorian Government spokesperson said.

“The final approval was shaped by the community feedback, with protections in place to ensure we can maintain access to these vital resources without compromising the environment.”

The quarry has large sand resources, is within the Melbourne Supply Area Extractive Industry Interest Area and is on the current Extractive Industry Priority Project List.