New Planning Approval pathway for quarries in Victoria.

By on December 13, 2023

ANDREW NATOLI, Director of Equipe Lawyers.

The Victorian Government has introduced a new planning approval pathway for quarries as part of a package of planning reforms to implement the long-awaited housing policy document, Victoria’s Housing Statement, a 10-year plan to address the housing supply crisis in Victoria.

The Statement sets out a range of red tape reduction initiatives, including bold reforms to the planning system to streamline approvals. While not explicitly identified in the Statement or related documents, the inclusion of this initiative in Amendment VC242 recognises the critical role that the extractive industry sector plays in the Victorian economy in literally providing the foundations and building blocks for delivering housing and necessary infrastructure.

On 21 September 2023, the Minister for Planning, the Hon. Sonia Kilkenny MP, amended all local planning schemes to introduce a new ‘Significant Economic Development’ provision (clause 53.22 ) and amended existing provisions (clause 72.01). Key features of the new pathway are:

• The Minister is now the decision maker for quarries where the ‘estimated value of the resource to be extracted’ is at least $30 million (see below).
• Details are yet to be confirmed, but it is understood that the ‘estimated value’ is to be calculated by the total resource amount (in tonnes) x $ per tonne market rate.
• The entry threshold for this pathway could be as low as between 1.2 million and 1.5 million tonnes for some quarry applications and is likely to capture a significant proportion of the 40 quarry applications that (on average) councils receive each year across Victoria (PPARS data).
• Significantly, eligible applications will be subject to the normal period of public notice and objections, but it will not be possible for an objector to appeal any approval to VCAT.

To establish the ‘estimated value of the resource to be extracted,’ the Department of Transport and Planning (DTP) has provided the following principles as a guide for applicants:

• The estimate will need to be calculated by a JORC (or JORC equivalent) competent person (see A ‘competent person’ is someone with at least 5 years’ experience preparing resource estimates for the quarry deposit type.
• The site will need to have been drilled to some extent that gives the competent person adequate confidence in the resource estimate.
• The competent person will create a resource model to estimate the tonnage and the resource estimate should include any consideration of waste factor.
• That tonnage will be multiplied by an agreed benchmark material price to determine the resource value.

For further guidance on applying these principles applicants should contact DTP directly.

This development follows others seeking to boost the supply of construction materials in the right locations, including the recent passing of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Bill 2023 (commencing in 2027) and the establishment of Resources Victoria and a new Resources Victoria Approvals Coordination role to facilitate quarry applications. The latter is an expansion of the previous Quarry Approvals Coordinator, with a larger remit and team that can now facilitate work plan variations, not just administrative updates.

It is understood that the administration and assessment of eligible quarry applications under the new provision will be undertaken by the Statutory Planning Services team of the Department of Transport and Planning.

Quarries can raise complex issues, particularly for local planning teams that are under-resourced or deal infrequently with such proposals. It is expected that the centralisation of expertise and assessment in one team will over time lead to more proportionate assessment and more efficient and consistent decision-making for eligible quarry applications.

Any questions?

The Equipe team are specialists in extractive industry approvals and can help you better understand how this initiative may affect you.

Equipe Lawyers have been an Associate member of the CMPA since 2012.

Please contact us.

Andrew Natoli
P: 03 9853 5000
M: 0417 101 236

Paul Beeson

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