The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s decision to block the construction of a quarry in Seymour should be hailed as a ‘‘milestone’’ according to Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority chief executive officer Chris Norman.
The ruling was handed down in April, with the tribunal finding the quarry proposed by Mawsons & Sons posed ‘‘threats of a serious nature’’ to the environment.
Although the tribunal said steps could be taken to avoid the impact, it deemed the potential impact to the environment and community wellbeing could not be offset by the economic impact of the quarry.
Goulburn Broken CMA was strongly opposed to the proposed construction of two pits, with Goulburn-Murray Water and DEDJTR also opposing the planned construction.
The proposed location was close to the Melbourne to Sydney rail line bridge, optic fibre communication lines and other infrastructure, bringing fears of how a quarry could impact on the local infrastructure and environment.
G-MW and Goulburn Broken CMA told the tribunal they believed there was an ‘‘unacceptable level of risk’’ to the stability of the Goulburn River, with the potential for an avulsion event that could result in the rapid re-alignment of river channels with aggressive and rapid upstream and downstream erosion of bed and banks.
Mawsons & Sons argued that an avulsion event was not likely to occur and steps could be taken to reduce other risks.
Mr Norman said the authority made a point of exploring the issue.
‘‘We pursued the matter because of the potential serious consequences on the Goulburn River floodplain and associated major local, regional and national infrastructure if the expansion went ahead,’’ he said.
‘‘There is still much work to do to ensure that future sand and gravel mining on the Goulburn River floodplain in our catchment can be undertaken sustainably, but we cannot underestimate the importance of this milestone.’’
The final ruling found there was not enough evidence to allow the quarry to be constructed.
‘‘There are threats of serious damage to the environment and while there may be means to redress these threats, we have not been persuaded as to the practicability and efficacy of these means,’’ the VCAT ruling said.
‘‘The high likelihood of at least a pit capture event occurring without an appropriate risk minimising strategy fails to adequately protect biological diversity and ecological integrity of the in-stream and riparian environments.’’