HILLVIEW QUARRY LOSES AT VCAT

EXCLUSIVE

Hillview Quarries has lost its appeal to restart stone extraction at a site in Boundary Rd, Dromana. VCAT Member Judith Perlstein ruled that the relevant planning permit “has expired because the use of the land for the purpose of extractive industry did not start within two years of the issue of the permit”.

She further ruled that, alternatively the permit, P97/1656, had expired because no extraction had occurred for more than two years. The ‘P97’ refers to the year in which the permit was sought.

It is a decisive victory for community opposition to the quarry, which is on land adjoining the derelict Pioneer quarry, which Hillview bought from Pioneer in 1998 and, according to locals, was never worked for lack of stone.

Hillview picCouncillors last year refused to approve Hillview’s application for a continuance and amendment of the permit, which VCAT was told expired on 23 March 2004. Hillview quarry: refused as a tip site.

Hillview was seeking an “open” permit – one with no expiry date, meaning the quarry owner, the philanthropic Ross Trust, would probably never have to undertake a clean-up at its land and neighbouring land, including a state park.

Hillview had argued that removing expiry dates on the permit “is entirely consistent with Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme prohibition on including time limits in extractive industry permit and reflects the latest knowledge about the remaining reserves at the site”.

Hillview CEO Mr Paul Nitas had stated that by not approving the continuance and amendments, the cost of rock “would increase costs to the consumer in the future”.

The old Pioneer quarry was proposed by Peninsula Waste Management Pty Ltd and Mornington Peninsula Shire for use as a rubbish tip. The Environment Protection Authority refused this in September 2013.

Having failed to have the quarry approved as a tip and now failing to get its permit extended, the owner could face the remedial clean-up that is part of its permit conditions, at an estimated cost of $3-$5 million. The disused quarry is said to be infested with weed species that have escaped into adjacent Arthurs Seat State Park.

No appeal is likely against VCAT’s decision unless the owner’s legal team can identify a point of law to take to the Supreme Court. It is more likely that grounds might be explored for seeking a new permit from the shire.

Hillview - Jeremy GobboMr Jeremy Gobbo QC (pictured) submitted to Member Perlstein that, once a resource is identified, the owner should be entitled to continue to extract it until is has been exhausted.

She accepted this was a principle recognised in the planning scheme. “However, this depends on the continuing validity of any relevant planning permit,” she stated in her decision. ” It does not mean that a planning permit for extractive industry may never expire due to discontinuance of use.”

This principle “applies with even more force if the period of discontinuance is [as is the case here] 15 years or more.”

Member Perlstein found no passive or active stone extraction had occurred in the two years following the permit being issued . “The permit has therefore expired.”

She continued: “[I]f I am wrong in this finding … I find that the use has been discontinued for more than two years and the permit has therefore expired.

“[T]he Tribunal has no power to amend the permit as requested. As a result, the application must be refused.”

The case was originally set down for hearing on 13 June following a compulsory conference this Thursday, 4 May.

2 Comments on "HILLVIEW QUARRY LOSES AT VCAT"

  1. Daniel (on behalf of local business) | 01/05/2017 at 9:56 am |

    Are you people really that blind? I am sure that you have taken the time to investigate the background of Hillview Quarries and the Ross Trust, undoubtedly in the endeavour to dig up whatever dirt you can to assist you in your campaign to tarnish the company as a whole. What I have noticed is the amount of people and companies throughout the district that I have spoken to in general and they have openly stated how they have received and allegedly appreciated a donation whether being in materials or monetary form from Hillview and the Ross Trust. It just might pay to think, even a little bit, about the future: if the rock stops donations stop, employment stops for approx 50 people, material prices increase (cartage) and to think about our local sporting clubs from bowling clubs through to local football and what it holds, I feel that the rock that Hillview still have at their current site obviously is not going to last forever, and with this so what, if they had not quarried for x amount of years at the former Pioneer site. Keeping reserves is like keeping money in the bank: you withdraw at a time when you need it. I am sure that the public would love to see the current site exhausted, so as to cease truck noise and traffic flow at the very least, and for the commercial venture to move to a less occupied almost rural location. It just makes sense !!! and I welcome your response…

    Bandicoot responds:
    Some facts:
    1. Daniel, you are correct re the philanthropic Ross Trust. It has been generous. It has, over the years, donated some $4-5 million locally out of about $40 million distributed around Victoria. Its support for the Dromana Tigers is now reported to be in doubt. I welcome a correction if those figures are wrong.
    2. In 15-odd years Hillview has not extracted so much as a pebble from the old Pioneer site in Boundary Rd and VCAT has now ruled it has no current permit to operate there. [But its original permit obligations remain.]
    3. Its first action after buying the site was to remove all the fixed and mobile operating plant.
    4. It has provided, so far as I am aware, no evidence re the rock reserves it claims it intends to exploit.
    5. It has done little or no maintenance at the site; in particular it has not controlled weeds, which have spread into the adjacent State Park.
    6. There is widespread community concern that its application for a perpetual permit was aimed at postponing indefinitely its legal obligation to clean up the site.
    I appreciate the trust’s dilemma following its failure several years ago to have the quarry used as a tip. It is clear now it listened to some poor advice in pushing for that use.

  2. Spot on Daniel. Hillview is a not for profit business. It does not have an owner, just a board of trust. What they have contributed to the local community and Victoria is amazing. I understand the community uproar in relation to a tip at the Pioneer site, but it is the trust making decisions, not Hillview. The main players in all this own land around the Pioneer site, i.e. Banks, (sons played for the sponsored Dromana Tigers), Fancett and his wife, the owner of Village Cinemas lives behind. Cameron lives a short distance away but heavily involved in the Hillview-sponsered Dromana Tennis Club. The vast majority of us locals will continue to support Hillview. They have been fantastic to my local sporting club. These people also might want to a avoid both Rosebud and Frankston hospitals which both have wings built with money supplied by Hillview. Or are they hypocrites of the highest order. Ever bought rock from Hillview, Bandicoot?

    Bandicoot: Some facts. (These do not respond to Shane’s description of Hillview Quarry’s legal setup.) First, VCAT has ruled that Hillview has no permit to reopen the old Pioneer quarry, for reasons that lie entirely at the feet of Hillview. It therefore follows, saving a successful appeal against the VCAT ruling, that Hillview must now fulfil its legal obligation to remediate the quarry. Second, Hillview not long ago opened a new work area at the quarry from which it currently extracts rock: that is, it is not relying on the old Pioneer site and never has. Hillview has not revealed how much rock is available at the Pioneer site after stating it intended to test-drill to establish the size of the resource. Third, people living near such a site have an understandable interest in it and its potential to affect their lives. We all have the right to defend our interests: the law allows us to protect our right to the peaceful enjoyment of our properties. Fourth, this in no way makes those people hypocrites, but it calls into question the logic of anyone who would brand them hypocrites for defending their legal rights. Fifth, the Ross Trust is a respected philanthropic institution both locally and across Victoria but that gives them no rights beyond those legally available to them. Sixth, Bandicoot has indeed bought rock from Hillview and will continue to do so.

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