New 19/1/24: Quarry Application Withdrawn
Local residents Glenn Todd and Tiffany Harrison, learnt just before Christmas that an application to construct a gravel quarry had been proposed opposite their newly purchased property at Carrajung on the eastern slopes of the Strzelecki Ranges. The initial plan for the quarry is approximately 10 hectares in size and could also include a mobile rock crushing plant. The quarry is located on land within a hardwood plantation owned by Radial Timber and currently leased by New Forests* (as was told in a phone call to FOE from Heartwood Plantations). The lease is due to expire soon.
(*But according to: Heartwood Carrajung Quarry Town Planning Report p3 'The site and surrounds are owned by Heartwood Investments Pty Ltd and operated by Radial Timber'). A land title search also shows that the land is owned by Heartwood Investments Pty Ltd).
A No Quarry website has been created to oppose the quarry and national and international media have picked up on the story. FoE urges interested parties to put in an objection to the quarry.
The inappropriate location of the quarry. Trees at this site have been growing poorly probably due to the lack of nutrients in gravel dominated soils.
A planning proposal has been submitted to Wellington Shire and people have until the 31st of January to comment on the development. The quarry is supposedly required for roading materials for plantation roads and tracks within New Forests Plantations and plantations to be established in the future*. At this stage FoE is unclear why Radial Timber/New Forests require access to a new quarry, when the major plantation owner in the Strzelecki's, Hancock Victorian Plantations already has access to quarries for their roading needs in the Strzelecki's. Surely Radial Timbers/New Forests could get their materials from HVP without the need to create a new quarry. FoE also has concerns that if a quarry application is granted, future expansion of the quarry could occur, particularly if the land is sold to other parties.
Existing quarry near Mount Tassie, only 15km south west of Carrajung. Gravel is apparently in short supply in the region and is expensive.
The quarry proposal will cause Radial Timbers/New Forests negative publicity if the quarry goes ahead. This in turn could impact the long term environmental credentials of the company. New Forests own a number of properties in the South Gippsland/Strzelecki region and have been involved in widespread plantation logging in Victoria's south west. Undue environmental attention is probably the last thing the company wants, particularly after the recent decision by the State Government to stop native forest logging in Victoria, a decision that has already impacted on Radial Timbers supply.
Koalas and other wildlife frequent the area. This animal was photographed on Carrajung Lower Road very close to the quarry site on Nov 29 2022.
One of the reasons why FoE nominated the Strzelecki koala under Federal Environmental legislation in early 2022 was to oppose inappropriate developments impacting on the Strzelecki koala. How many other koalas are in the area that is already 'under the thumb' of plantations.
Koalas at Carrajung are dominated by the C5 genetic cluster/family (See Wedrowicz 2018) within the Strzelecki koala genome. This population could represent the boundary of the C5 cluster and the C6 cluster. The C6 cluster appears to be more associated with the Gippsland Plains bioregion of Mullungdung and Won Wron state forests.
Recent hardwood plantation logging by New Forests, just south of Mullungdung State Forest, a highly significant Strzelecki Koala hotspot. Were koalas impacted by the recent logging? It seems inconceivable that they weren't when Hancock have been having major koala issues at plantation sites in the region. It is also clear that some roading materials were required for the harvesting of this timber plantation. What was the source of these roading materials?
This existing gravel quarry at Staceys Bridge is 25km south west of Carrajung and is an alternative to a new quarry. Gravel purchases for new roads can be very expensive.
*Initially this blog stated that Heartwood Plantations were involved in quarry proposal with Radial Timber. After a phone call from Heartwood, FoE was informed that the current land is owned by Radial Timber and leased by New Forests (despite what was written in the Planning Report and the Land Title that the land is owned by Heartwood Investments Pty Ltd).