Friends of Big Hill left disappointed

STAWELL - Friends of Big Hill are disappointed by a Northern Grampians Shire Council decision to not allow them access to 108 Main Street.

Members had planned to occupy the building next week to assist residents with their submissions on the Environment Effects Statement relating to the proposal by Stawell Gold Mines to open cut mine Big Hill.

SGM put the EES on public display last Friday. It covers all aspects of SGM's proposal to mine two open cut pits at Big Hill over a four-to-five year period.

The EES contains details of the project along with studies looking at a variety of associated subjects including environmental, cultural, noise, air pollution and health impacts.

Wendy Melbourne and Diane Raeburn believe council's position is inconsistent given it earlier allowed them access to the shop front when the scoping document was released.

"For all those people that put in a submission for the scoping document it is just as important that they do another for the EES," Mrs Melbourne said.

"It is also important that you follow the procedure and request the submission be heard, and if you are not comfortable with reading it in public a member of the Friends of Big Hill will do it for you."

Mrs Raeburn has herself taken time out to study the lengthy document.

"There are a lot of technical words, it is very long and involved and one of the great things about the shop front was that people could just come along and have a talk about any concerns," she said.

Northern Grampians Shire CEO, Justine Linley said Shop 108 is not intended as a long term or regular booking venue.

"It is a place for small community organisations to distribute information, raise funds or increase their membership," she said.

"Council does not book Shop 108 out to advocacy groups, or for lobbying or political purposes.

"With the Big Hill Enhanced Development Project EES now out for public comment, it would be inappropriate for council to be seen as supporting one position or another until a formal council decision has been made.

"Lobbying, activist or advocacy groups are more than welcome to be present in the Main Street and can apply for a temporary permit, as has always been the case."

The EES is available for viewing during normal business hours at:

Northern Grampians Shire Council, Town Hall, Main Street, Stawell. Tel: (03) 5358 1274.

Stawell Library, Sloane Street, Stawell (restricted hours Tuesday - Friday 10am to 5.30pm, Saturday 10am to 12 midday, Sunday 3pm to 5pm) Telephone (03) 5358 8700.

Regional Development Victoria, Grampians Region, 111 Armstrong Street North, Ballarat VIC 3350. Tel: (03) 5327 2800.

Victorian Government Bookshop, Level 20, 80 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. Tel: 1300 366 356.

The statement, including the technical appendices, is available for viewing online at the SGM website: www.crocgold.com/bighill.

To access a copy email: SGM.enquiries@ crocgold.com.au or call 1800 771 729.

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