Horsham council worried VCAT may have final say on Iluka Douglas mine waste plans
The Horsham council is concerned the final say over a controversial mining development in the region might fall with the state’s planning authority, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Objectors to Iluka Resources’ plan to continue dumping radioactive mine waste at its Douglas site met council for a planning committee meeting last night.
It is likely to be their last opportunity for input before council decides on whether to grant a planning permit in early June.
Mayor Heather Phillips this week said she was surprised that after nearly 12 months, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) had decided it had no jurisdiction over the project.
Councillor Phillips said there were still many unknowns about the project but statutory requirements meant council was required to make a decision within weeks.
“The scariest thing in this process is that if this ends up in VCAT, then VCAT will be the ones who will be making the conditions,” she said.
“Then it’s quite possible that council could lose some of that control over a piece of our municipality.”
Cr Phillips said she was pleased the community had the opportunity to state its case on the project.
“We had a really clear, open and transparent process happening,” she said.
“We were able to listen to all the community. We had everyone in together so they could hear what each other was saying and we allowed as much communication between all the parties as possible.”
Waste should return to interstate mines: Kanagulk Landcare Group
The Kanagulk Landcare Group has opposed the project for years and argues that federal guidelines state Iluka should return the mine waste to its source.
The group’s Albert Miller said until Iluka proved otherwise, the waste from the company’s mine sites in South Australia and Mallee should return there.
“The miner has to actually prove that the source mine is inappropriate to receive the wastes back and over the last year I’ve seen no information that proves either Ouyen, Ceduna, or in the future Balranald, is an inappropriate site, so, why are we doing this?” he said.
Mr Miller said if council was unsure of how to proceed, the process should be paused.
“Well after the news last week about the EPA virtually stepping out of the decision-making and not granting any sort of approval for this, I think council’s been overwhelmed,” he said.
“I don’t think they know which way they’ll be facing tomorrow or the next day, let alone in three weeks’ time when a decision has got to be made, so I can see it panning out to a lot longer time frame.”