A recent proposal for the development of 2 large deep cut pits has left a rural community divided, also creating more questions than answers. The proposal by Canadian company Crocodile Gold has placed the deep cut pits in close proximity to schools, housing areas and a church within the rural town of Stawell in rural Western Victoria.
With the proposals environmental impact statement having frequent inconsistencies and gaps, residential group Big Hill action group have raised concerns about the projects environmental implications and health issues.
A community research group has compiled comprehensive information in regard to the risks to water and air quality that could be potentially caused by the introduction of the deep cut pits. This information package was given to the Environmental Effects hearing with a response yet to be received. The information stresses the need for greater investigation into the health and environmental implications.
The project is set to come within 80 meters (65 meters in some cases) of housing areas as well as a primary school. This is an interesting decision given that renewable energy development in the region in particular wind turbines must not infringe upon the 2km buffer zone.
The Bailleu government introduced a minimum 2km distance between wind turbines and residential properties in 2011. This was an arbitrary decision. No scientific evidence was presented to justify this decision. And it lent weight to the scare campaign surrounding the technology. This decision caused great frustration for the renewable energy development in Victoria.
Without the scientific reasoning for buffering zones being implemented, the decision to allow deep cut pits in within 65 meters of residential areas seems somewhat baffling. The level of contradictory actions in regards to the buffer zones leads the community to wonder why are there such inconsistencies for the development of projects such as these. Clarification is needed to understand the rationale of each decision what factors lead to these decisions.
Regardless of the inconsistencies in policy, the proposal has a great potential to be approved. Community action against the proposal occurred previously in 2000 and has continued with a rally at parliament house on Tuesday September 16th.