PROPONENTS of a quarry earmarked for land near the Framlingham Forest have taken their fight to the state's tribunal as tensions heat up between traditional owners and the community over the project.
The project has cleared the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Heritage Victoria, and has received an Earth Resource work plan from the state, but has one last hurdle to clear at Moyne Shire to get a planning permit.
A meeting was held virtually between the newly-elected Moyne Shire Council, the applicants and objectors.
Andrew Natoli from Equipe Lawyers represented Ben and Janelle McLeod, who are proposing to build a bluestone quarry at their Panmure property.
The quarry would cover about 60 hectares of farmland on the Ellerslie-Panmure Road, using about 15 hectares at a time and extracting about 100,000 tonnes of bluestone a year.
Mr Natoli said his clients had referred the matter to VCAT.
READ MORE: Panmure quarry clears state planning hurdles
"Some of the reaction allegations I believe have been disproportionate given the scale and what is proposed," he said.
"It will form part of a local family business and supply materials for ongoing local projects.
"It's of a modest scale, it's for the local area meaning less truck travel time on the road and ultimately cheaper material and cheaper road construction as well. We all drive on roads.
"This is not a mining project, all products are consumed locally and it is an appropriate area for use."
A focus of the meeting was the lack of a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP), which Mr Natoli said was not required for the site.
Eastern Maar cultural landscapes general manager John Clarke said the project was of great concern to traditional owners of the area and implored the McLeods to carry out a CHMP.
"This is a very rich landscape, we've been here forever, we've never come from anywhere else," he said.
"The Framlingham Forest is a refuge for our cultural heritage, it has saved us as a people.
"We're concerned the quarry could have a detrimental impact on the tangible values the forest possesses.
"We would like the shire to compel the proponents to undertake a CHMP to address all the concerns we bring up as a community. It's only through that mechanism we believe we will be able to mitigate what could be detrimental to the forest."
A number of neighbouring landholders spoke at the meeting, with only one individual present in support of the quarry.
Most cited concerns with the impact to the Hopkins River, Framlingham Forest as well as endangered or threatened fish species and Indigenous cultural heritage sites.
The purpose of the November 26 meeting was to enable councillors to hear directly from the applicant and from community members who have submitted to the planning process, and to enable the applicant and submitters to hear directly from each other about the proposal, their opinions and concerns
Moyne Shire Council is now required to make a stance on the quarry before the issue is heard at VCAT.
More information can be found on the council website.
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