South Gippsland Shire have recently issued a permit amendment on a 24 ha works authority area, on Council owned bushland on Lavers Hill part of the Hoddle Range. The site is located approximately 2.5km south east of the small Victorian community of Fish Creek.
The permit amendment allows for the existing quarry to be expanded into the Fish Creek water supply catchment. The plan, would allow clearing of all native vegetation on steep hill in the middle of the Cape Liptrap/Strzelecki Ranges biolink. The link is important for a variety of species including lyrebirds, koalas and other species. The site also allows for spectacular views of Wilson's Promontory and the Tarwin Valley.
Looking at the western side of Lavers Hill
As far as can be determined, no publicly available ecological assessment has been published regarding the area that is planned to be cleared and mined. Friends of the Earth has concerns that the EPBC listed Strzelecki Gum could occur near the site. If Strzelecki Gum is there that would mean that the development would have to go through the Federal EPBC approval process. The site to be cleared apparently also includes the rare Gippsland Bog Gum (Eucalyptus kitsoniana).
A view looking west, showing Fish Creek drinking water supply (Battery Creek reservoir)
South Gippsland Shire is also stating that removal of native vegetation from the site is exempt from planning scheme provisions and as such, no permit is required to clear the native vegetation on the site. This decision was apparently based on an assessment done by the Earth Resources Regulator in conjunction with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
A group of local neighbours who have put in objections against the development are up against well funded legal teams. The council is the approver of the permit, owner of the land and recipient of some of the financial gain from the quarry. The quarry will be developed by Goldsmith Quarries.
Victorian Government picture of the ancient stone circle on top of Lavers Hill before it was destroyed.
Local residents are concerned that with all of the titles for the area being amalgamated, it may mean that the entire hill will be removed. ‘Wet Forest’ on the site in the headwaters of Fish Creek reservoir (Battery Creek) will be destroyed. Residents have serious concerns about the water supply being stripped of vegetation. These concerns are based on real world historical events including that the area is unstable and prone to lands slips. South Gippsland Water have, in the past, acquired land surrounding the Battery Creek Reservoir and have stabilised it with earth works and tree planting.
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