Today, an application was filed in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to seek a declaration from VCAT that the gold mining activities under Mining Licence No. 5349 in Wombat Forest require a planning permit. If Wombat Forestcare Inc, represented by the Environment Defenders Office, is successful in court, the planned activities will be unable to proceed without a planning permit.
Ariane Wilkinson, Lawyer at the EDO, stated “The entire process for this mine to date has proceeded without adequate community input. 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.”
Gayle Osborne, Secretary of Wombat Forestcare Inc, stated “Our group has been protecting Wombat Forest since 2006. There are a number of gold mines threatening the forest. This particular proposed gold mine is in the headwaters of the heritage listed Lerderderg River. The Work Plan for this gold mine shows a plan to remove a number of eucalypt trees, many of which are about 80 years old. Our community values these trees as part of Victoria’s natural heritage. If allowed to survive, the mature trees will become hollow bearing trees, providing valuable habitat for gliders, owls, parrots, kookaburras and possums. They form part of the remaining 8% of mature trees in the Wombat Forest, and in our group’s view it should be protected rather than logged and removed to make way for mines.”
As well as environmental concerns, Wombat Forestcare Inc holds grave concerns for the welfare of the wombats currently living on the site. Ms Osborne notes that “Wombat burrows are evident and the group has been collecting footage of the common wombats that use the site with motion sensing cameras. 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.“