Tuesday 01/10/13 Josh Fagan, The Advocate
AN ENVIRONMENTAL group is hoping planning permits could block plans for gold mining in Wombat Forest.
The Wombat Forestcare group has lodged a claim to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to call for mandatory permits on any mining activity in the forestland.
The group have argued that any mining would be forced to stop unless a planning permit was approved.
They are calling on VCAT to consider the proposal after filing the legal paperwork last week.
Environment Defenders Office lawyer Ariane Wilkinson, acting for Wombat Forestcare, said they wanted to see more accountability regarding permits. Ms Wilkinson said the views of the Forestcare group and the wider community have largely been ignored.
“The entire process for this mine to date has proceeded without adequate community input,” she said. “If a planning permit is required then the community will have a right to have their say and community concerns can be properly heard and considered. The community holds valuable local knowledge about the area and it is our firm view that this should be taken into account in any decision about this development in Wombat Forest.”
Wombat Forestcare secretary Gayle Osborne said the forest was in danger of being destroyed by a number of goldmines.
She said some of the eucalypt trees that were under threat were more than 80 years old.
“This particular proposed gold mine is in the headwaters of the heritage listed Lerderderg River,” she said.
‘’The work plan for this gold mine shows a plan to remove a number of eucalypt trees.”
Ms Osborne said there were also consequences for the welfare of the wombats in the forest.
She said the group had been collecting motion sensor camera footage of common wombats that use the site, that shows evidence of numerous wombat burrows.
“There are no conditions in the approved mining work plan for this gold mine site that require any action to mitigate damage to the wombats,” she said.
Ms Osborne said the group have been protecting Wombat Forest since 2006.
She said it would be a major boost if their VCAT claim was successful.