News - 05 September 2021

Statement about proposed quarrying activity on the Mornington Peninsula, and our forest campaign work supported by a grant from the Ross Trust

What funding have we received from the Ross Trust for this grant?
The Wilderness Society has received $66,000 to date for this grant, the first of three years worth of proposed funding. We have not received nearly $200,000 from the Ross Trust as claimed in some media.

The Ross Trust funding we receive is sourced from historical quarrying activity, and is not derived from the proposed granite quarry activity which is not slated to commence before 2027 - should it in fact proceed at all.

Our decision to accept the rest of this grant is dependent on both the outcomes of the government assessment processes for the proposed quarrying activity (which are yet to commence) as well as how the Ross Trust consults with the community about its plans. We do not expect to receive funding from the Ross Trust that is sourced from income from the proposed quarrying activity.

Does accepting this funding mean the Wilderness Society supports the proposed Hillview Quarry?
No. The Wilderness Society is deeply concerned about the environmental impacts of Hillview’s planned quarry activity, how it may negatively impact endangered species, like the Powerful Owl, or the Southern Brown Bandicoot, and how the community's views about the proposed quarry are being taken into account by the proponent, and by government decision-makers.

Receiving funds from the Ross Trust does not impact our organisational independence, nor will it impact our ability to speak out on the proposed quarrying activity. There is no question that our position triggers responsibilities. We must ensure we are pursuing and delivering work in line with our organisation’s purpose, which is to protect, promote and restore wilderness and natural ecosystems.

We have, over the past year, consistently communicated our concerns about the proposed quarry with the Ross Trust. We will put a critical lens on assessment and community consultation processes at state and federal levels, and any outcomes from those processes, to ensure decision-making is robust, transparent and the community’s right to have a meaningful and informed say in the assessment process is fully honoured. It is with this context, that we engage with the Ross Trust, the Peninsula Preservation Group, and other stakeholders.

We have also communicated regularly with the Peninsula Preservation Group to make our position clear, meeting as recently as Friday 27th August.

We would like the Ross Trust's plans for quarrying to be resolved in a way that is positive for the local environment and the local community while allowing the Trust ongoing, sustainable, and less controversial income to fund grants that support important social and environmental work.

Why do we have a funding relationship with the Ross Trust?
We are very concerned about the deforestation that's happening on Country right now. After the Black Summer bushfires, Victoria's native forests need care to recover—not more logging.

Given the importance of preventing further logging impacts in East Gippsland’s high- conservation value forests, particularly post the devastating 2019-20 bushfires, we do not feel we are in a position to return funding, let alone discontinue this work—and especially so given the proposed quarry activity is at this point far from receiving the necessary approvals, and the assessment processes have, we understand, been delayed.

The funding provided to us by the Ross Trust is supporting important forest conservation economy work. This supports the recovery of regional communities, and of local forests, that are right now subject to continued industrial logging that has far-reaching and negative ecological, social and climate impacts.

We wish to continue the critical work to protect green, unburnt forests from logging in eastern Victoria, whilst at the same time closely monitor the assessment processes for the proposed quarry activity on the Mornington Peninsula which, if it proceeds, will also negatively impact forests.

This is also why we are continuing our work to strengthen national nature laws and ensure communities have a guaranteed right to have a say over destructive industrial projects that destroy habitat for endangered wildlife.