By Helen Tatchell
Sand is the new gold; and Darley residents are not welcoming the prospectors.
Project Manager for Zhong Yin Group Australia Pty Ltd, Andrew Helps said at a fiery public meeting, the two properties 48 Camerons road and 222 Lerderderg Gorge road were just a proposal for a sand mine/quarry.
“This is not a done deal. I will make recommendations to the company’s directors and that is why we are going through this consultation process,” he said.
Over 120 people packed the Bacchus Marsh Golf Club as Mr Helps revealed a presentation that showed there would be 53 truck movements per day with each carting a 30-ton load travelling on Lerderderg Gorge road and exiting onto Gisborne road.
“That is only one way. The trucks will come back empty, so the actual number is 106 truck movements per day,” said one man in the crowd.
Mr Helps also told the meeting that he had met and had discussions with the Moorabool Shire Council planning department, a claim denied by Mayor Paul Tatchell.
“To date, there has been no communication with Council officers regarding this proposal.
“Council has not received a planning permit application from Zhong Yin Group Australia,” he said.
The crowd were not interested in the presentation and had more questions than Mr Helps could satisfy with an answer.
“This sand mine is virtually in our backyard,” one person proclaimed.
There are also rumours the mine will be built on part of a 500-metre buffer zone and a conservation zone.
“There are two sites that share a joint boundary. 40ha is within a special use buffer zone and entry and exit will be from the Lerderderg Gorge road gateway,” Mr Helps said.
“The processing plant will be on the Camerons road site with a proposed pit taking up most of that site.”
Mr Helps tried in vain to address the crowd, who were very hot under the collar by this stage, that there is a “cost advantage (for the sand) from the inner west rather than carting from the Bass Coast at the moment.”
“The growth areas are here (Moorabool), Melton and Wyndham. Quite a lot of projection there,” he said.
Mr Helps said the State government engaged Price Waterhouse Cooper to report on the demand for extractive resources.
“And there is quite a big demand coming up,” he said, amid jeers and scoffs from the crowd.
Local Camerons road resident Moira Smith said her home will be just 30 metres from the proposed processing plant site boundary.
She told the meeting in a prepared statement her husband and family have lived on the property for the past 35-years.
“There are strict zoning restrictions on us as land owners including buffer zones to the state forest and water courses.
“It has always been considered a designated environmental area. It is also a corridor for koalas, a place of varied wildlife and hundreds of birds and our beautiful yellow box gums and local wattles.
“Our beautiful land that we have worked for 35-years to look after; to love it for the beautiful Australian environment that it is.
“I for one do not want to see it raped and ruined for pragmatic and monetary gain,” Mrs Smith said to loud applause from the crowd.
“Someone needs to be telling us the truth and no doubt you will give us a whole lot of economic reasoning, but money is NOT the only issue here,” she said.
The area that is proposed to be developed for the sand quarry is currently zoned rural/residential and farming.
Mr Helps did not return answers to questions emailed to him from The Moorabool News at the time of going to print.
106 truck movements per day multiplied by operating six days per week equates to 656 loads (30-ton per load) per week and over a whopping 33,000 per annum, that adds up to165,000 tons of sand in one year.
The mine is alleged to have a 20-year life span.
All on a road that has local school children catching the bus; tourists and visitors to the watering hole and picnic area at the end of Lerderderg Gorge road, and community members who reside on the same such road.