Montrose Quarry

MEG was very active in the successful opposition to the expansion of Montrose Quarry from 1996 to 2008. The proposed expansions to the Montrose Quarry would have removed important native vegetation as well having other significant environmental impacts. Below is a comparison of the existing quarry pit and a simulation of the proposed quarry pit after expansion.

Issues

Timeline of Events

The 1965-66 Campaign

Opposition to the quarry pre-dates MEG's involvement by 30 years. In June 1965, the Lilydale Express labelled the quarry the "Cancer of the Dandenongs". At the time, The Age stated "It is obvious that if the proposal is accepted a vast area could be completely 'prostituted' to the vested interest of big business".
In May 1966 Minister Hamer refused the quarry expansion due to negative impacts on "nearby residential areas, both existing and future" from dust, traffic and the "adverse effect on the natural beauty of the surrounding area".
Despite unified opposition the quarry was given a licence to continue mining until 1988.
The community expected the quarry to close but the licence was repeatedly renewed and expanded, without disclosure to the community.

The 1996-99 Campaign

In 1996, Boral sought authority to expand the quarry from 57.5 hectares to 74.6 hectares. MEG led community opposition to the expansion, including a public meeting, doorknocking and making presentations to Council. The expansion was rejected by Council in late 1999.

The 2003-08 Campaign

In late 2003, Boral launched a new bid to expand the quarry, this time by 7.9 hectares. They said the quarry would be exhausted by about 2013 without the expansion and twelve years later with the expansion. (The quarry is still functioning in 2016 even though the expansion did not occur.)
MEG representatives met with councillors and sought their assurances that the proposal would be rejected. MEG also conducted an extensive public information campaign called ‘STOP’ about the many negative (including health) aspects of the quarry’s operations. The campaign included support for anti-expansion candidates in a Council election.
MEG members Graeme Lorimer, Kim Wormald, Claire Thomas and other local individuals met Boral regularly with Boral, government agencies and others in a Stakeholders Reference Group.
Boral appointed a public relations firm to handle queries, complaints and to explain their proposals. There was a free call phone number and queries taken at the Boral website.
MEG enlisted the aid of the Environmental Defenders Office for legal advice.
In June 2004, Boral organised street meetings and a Community Information Day to explain their proposals.
From 2004 to 2007, an Environmental Effects Statement was produced with 14 separate studies paid for by Boral at a cost of $3.5 million.
In May 2005, MEG relesed a public report urging councillors to stop the Environmental Effects Statement process and put a stop to the proposal. The report outlined the major environmental issues with the proposal and exposed major flaws with the prior reports commissioned by Boral. The original report is available here.
In November 2007, in light of what had been revealed about the impacts of the expansion proposal, councillors voted to stop the proposal by abandoning the required planning amendment.
At that point, Boral’s only hope was for Planning Minister Justin Madden to take the matter out of Council’s hands. Therefore, MEG lobbied the minister not to intervene. That led in June 2008 to the minister declaring that he would not intervene, killing the proposal (see the minister's media release).

Current status

Although Boral had claimed it needed the expansion to keep the quarry going beyond about 2013, the quarry is still operating. As of 2019, Boral’s website still treats the expansion proposal as current (see Boral meeting minutes) and they could theoretically apply again.
However, Boral obtained Council approval in 2014 for a 37-lot light industrial subdivision of land that used to be their main area for gravel stockpiles, on the western side of Fussell Rd. The land has been cleared, ready for development. The loss of land for storing gravel from the quarry suggests the quarry is winding down. This indication is supported by sequences of aerial photographs over recent years.
For current aerial photography of the quarry, see Google Earth (elevation-modelled) or Vicmap Basemap. Historical imagery is available in the Adastra Airways 1948 photographs.