Tuesday, 21 June 2022
Mr HAYES (Southern Metropolitan) (19:28): (1999) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Planning. Residents of Grantville and members of the Western Port woodlands group have expressed concerns regarding another planning permit issued by the minister for sand mining in their local forest, the last remaining forest around the whole of Western Port Bay. This vulnerable lowland forest, of which just 1 per cent remains on the Gippsland plains, is habitat to much flora and fauna listed as vulnerable under the commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 as well as the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. This includes the scarlet robin, swift parrot, powerful owl and the southern brown bandicoot. There are seven listed fauna species and three listed flora species in this region under the EPBC act and 14 listed fauna and three listed flora species under the FFG act.
There are 10 sand mines already operating in this forest corridor, five in conservation reserves, another seven with approvals and a further similar amount awaiting approval. The recent approval of this massive expansion of the Dandy Premix mine on the edge of Grantville, with its pondage to be within 500 metres of the Western Port shoreline and allowing the removal of mature forest along the ridge line, a vital biolink corridor, not only puts increased pressure on the listed flora and fauna but exposes the Ramsar convention listed wetlands of Western Port to unacceptable toxic contamination. Despite 78 local objections being lodged and a petition by almost 4000 members of the local community, the minister has approved the extraction of 30 million tonnes of sand. This will remove 13 hectares of native vegetation, just an astounding decision when all evidence shows we are in the midst of a mass extinction crisis in Victoria. Rehabilitation does not restore biodiversity, and heavy metals dumped into the groundwater can never be reclaimed. This quarry endangers this ecosystem in a way that it can never recover.
Locals ask the minister to prohibit any further expansion of this mine into Western Port woodlands, and I request the minister to (1) provide information on why the minister did not ask for an environmental impact study to be conducted prior to approval, given its close proximity to the Ramsar wetlands, and (2) provide information on why, when known habitat and evidence of vulnerable species is listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, this approval allowing the ripping out of a vital biolink connecting two conservation reserves was not referred to the commonwealth EPBC act prior to the granting of permit approval.