Western Highway opposition resolves to fight on

The group opposed to VicRoads’ chosen Western Highway duplication route between Buangor and Ararat has resolved to continue its fight.

Expired planning permits halted work on the 12-kilometre duplication project in November last year.

The group met in Ararat to discuss the case, which last month was adjourned until May 5, to allow VicRoads time to present a case for new planning approval.

It was revealed late last year that planning permits for the work had expired.

More than 20 people met to discuss the court case.

VicRoads must now re-submit an application to Planning Minister Richard Wynne, including a new incorporated document, which outlines the impact of the planned construction.

The solicitor representing the group Michael Kennedy said his clients would withdraw their legal challenge if Mr Wynne sent VicRoads’ new planning request to a panel of experts to re-examine if their route was the safest option.

“If Richard Wynne says he is prepared to take some submissions on fresh evidence and let that fresh evidence be taken to a panel, they will probably withdraw the legal fight,” he said.

“If on the other hand it is explained at that hearing by the VicRoads people that they are going to re-introduce the same incorporated document as before, then I believe my clients will oppose that position.”

The incorporated document outlines the environmental and safety planning considerations for the project.

An answer on new planning approval is expected by May 4, before a mention hearing for the Supreme Court challenge on May 5.

Fencing work had started on the project before the expired permits stopped work.