At the first Ordinary Council Meeting of its term, East Gippsland Shire Council unanimously opposed the proposal for the Fingerboards Mineral Sands Project, based on the information presented in the proponent’s Environmental Effects Statement (EES).
While Council is not the planning authority for the project, so cannot approve or reject the permit application, the report presented last night allowed Council to make a submission in response to the EES detailing Council’s views about the gaps and their concerns in relation to the information presented.
At the December 1 meeting, Council endorsed an independent technical review and key matters paper as Council’s submission to the EES.
Mayor Cr Mendy Urie explained Council engaged a consultant for this process.
“It was important to ensure the review of the EES was at arms-length of Council and conducted by technical experts,” Cr Urie said.
“We have also requested an addendum be prepared that includes issues relating to human health and climate change, as the scope for the technical review did not include detailed review of these elements.”
Council will also lodge an objection to the draft Planning Scheme Amendment Special Controls Overlay provisions associated with the project as part of its submission.
“The proposed planning scheme amendment would effectively remove Council as the responsible authority for the planning and implementation of land use strategies for the private land outside the mine footprint,” Cr Urie said.
Seventeen speakers addressed Council during the meeting, the majority of whom presented a position against the project.
Issues raised by speakers included impact on farming land, traffic, impact on water resources, and loss of amenity.
There was significant concern regarding impacts on the Mitchell River, horticulture industry and the Gippsland Lakes, many of these concerns have also been raised in Council’s submission in response to the EES.
Council’s response to the EES will be submitted to the Minister for Planning for consideration as part of the EES process and is due by 11 December 2020.
“This is the first opportunity Council has had to receive independent advice about the potential impact of the mine proposal.
“The EES as presented left too many unanswered questions and unresolved issues,” Cr Urie said.