Outcry as Planning Minister Lizzie Blandthorn reopens project proposal in South West Victoria

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Matuschka said three petitions opposing the original proposal have garnered more than 1,200 signatures. She said residents are now banding together to fight the renewed plans.

They fear that the huge project will dominate the coastal landscape and that the large reservoirs containing the effluents will be a few meters from some residential properties.

Matuschka said all Victorians should be concerned that the Minister for Planning could simply overrule a decision of the Planning Tribunal, which conducted extensive review and public hearings into the merits of the abalone farm.

“This really sets a serious precedent for the rest of the state.”

A Victorian government spokeswoman confirmed that Yumbah Aquaculture had reapplyed to build the project, but said it was now smaller than the original proposal.

“Any decision will be made on the merits of the proposal in accordance with relevant legislation after consultation with the community,” she said.

An abalone farm in Narrawong, near the site of a proposed new operation.

A Yumbah Aquaculture spokesperson said the proposed farm would produce around 500 tonnes of abalone per year, compared to the original plan of 1,000 tonnes.

“The revised truss proposal addresses visual amenity and scale issues raised by VCAT that prevented the previous proposal from continuing,” the spokesperson said.

He said the culture tank area was reduced from 156,000 square meters to 84,000 square meters and the nursery tank area was reduced to 13,000 square meters from 23,000 square meters in the original design.

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Despite the decrease in size, a report prepared by the Planning Minister said the project would be a major industrial operation, creating temporary jobs during construction and permanent roles.

“In addition, the aquaculture facility will make Victoria the leading producer of farmed abalone nationally,” the document states.

Portland Port General Manager Greg Tremewen said he initially opposed the project because it was inappropriate to have an abalone farm so close to port industrial operations.

“Our concerns have not changed,” he said.

Tremewen said the government should honor the court’s decision. “I just think it’s outrageous,” he said. “The race was run and won.”

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