Bullarto mine plans halted by tribunal

PRESERVING: Wombat Forestcare's David Stephens and Gayle Osborne. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

PRESERVING: Wombat Forestcare's David Stephens and Gayle Osborne. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

PROPOSED mining at the Wombat State Forest in Bullarto, near Daylesford, will require a planning permit, despite attempts by Fortitude Mining to proceed without one.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has ruled in favour of a motion by community environment group Wombat Forestcare, rejecting the Moorabool Shire Council's decision that Fortitude Mining's 5349 exploration license  allowed it to mine in the area.

To mine at the forest, the company will have to conduct an environmental impact study, in order to receive a planning permit from the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation.

Wombat Forestcare member David Stephens welcomed the VCAT ruling.

"The ruling could have been stronger in law, however the effect of it should be roughly what we're after regarding the mine having to apply for a planning permit," he said.

"(Fortitude Mining) will now have to go through a proper planning process, which they were hoping to avoid.

"No mine is viable within the Wombat State Forest.

"It's off the scale in terms of rationality."

Mr Stephens said mining at the forest would endanger animal populations and pose a threat to domestic water supply, given the forest's close proximity to the Lerderderg River.

"The current drama at the Costerfield Mine gives us due concern at the failure of this department to protect the public from industrial pollution."

High levels of toxic metal antimony was found in the drinking water of many Costerfield residents recently, which is believed to be linked to a Mandalay Resources mine nearby.

A Costerfield resident has filed a case against the company over an alleged breach of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.

Mr Stephens said the mining industry in Victoria was "highly aggressive".

"We feel (the mining industry) is acting like kids who have the keys to a lolly shop and that needs to stop," he said.

Moorabool Shire Council chief executive Rob Croxford said the council was considering VCAT's ruling.

"This process is driven by the state government and we are still analysing what implications there may be for council," he said.

The Wombat Forestcare website states that many endangered animals live in the forest, including the Powerful Owl, the Greater Glider and the Wombat Bush-Pea.

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