Friends of Big Hill planning sunset rally

Friends of Big Hill are determined to stop the sun from setting on one of Stawell's most beloved landmarks - Big Hill.

In a show of support for the icon a sunset celebration of Big Hill will take place on Sunday.

In a show of support for the icon a sunset celebration of Big Hill will take place on Sunday.

In a show of support for the icon a sunset celebration of Big Hill will take place on Sunday, June 1 at 4pm.

Residents of Stawell and the wider community have been invited to take part in the event by bringing their camera and a lantern or torch and enjoy the the sunset from Big Hill.

Friends of Big Hill are adamant the proposed Big Hill Enhanced Development Project is too close to residential homes, schools, age care facilities, historic buildings and the Stawell business centre.

"We believe that the adverse health, social, economic, cultural, and environmental effects from the proposed project outweigh the short term economic benefits for Stawell," Friends of Big Hill spokesperson, Helga Saunders said.

"So far Crocodile Gold has not demonstrated that the economic benefits for Stawell outweigh these negative social and environmental effects, should the development proceed.

"No dollar figures have been placed on ill health, social dislocation, or the disincentive for other long term industry, we believe this project would cause.

"We feel that it would be hard to attract people to town, with so much disruption close to schools and residential areas."

Mrs Saunders said residents have been bombarded with information about how much the economy would gain and how many jobs would be created, but questions what the community has gained from the estimated $2 billion of gold extracted during 25 years of gold mining in Stawell.

"We are still an economically depressed town, with high unemployment and no new innovation which could be helpful for a post gold mining Stawell," she said.

Mrs Saunders said the reasons for Planning Minister John Thwaites disallowing the project to proceed 15 years ago remained the same today.

"The Minister reached his conclusion on the proposal's close proximity to houses, the social dislocation it may generate... as well as the impact on heritage and biodiversity values," she said.

"In addition, he concluded that there are various environmental impacts that are predicted to result from the Big Hill proposal that, both individually and in combination, cannot be adequately avoided, mitigated or compensated. These conclusions are still relevant today."

Mrs Saunders said residents and the group are hopeful the Planning Minister will travel to Stawell to see first hand the closeness of the project to homes and livelihoods.

"We are hoping that the Minister, Matthew Guy, will visit the site before any decisions are made, to see for himself what is at stake here in Stawell," she said.

"There is little hope for adequate restoration of Big Hill from an engineering perspective, as it is unstable to rebuild a hill of this height and gradient so close to housing," she said.

"It is likely that at a later date plans to reconstruct Big Hill will be suspended due to an abutting Residential Zone 1."

Mrs Saunders said members of the Friends of Big Hill will continue to bring to the attention of decision makers and the general public what they believe are the inherent problems of the Big Hill Enhanced Development Project.

For further information about the sunset celebration contact Helga Saunders on 5358 3750.


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