A proposed planning development for a vacant block in the centre of a small town has raised concerns about the potential spread of residual mining waste and the loss of mining heritage.
An application to develop ten 800m2 blocks on a former mine dump site bounded by Templeton, Alliance and Dickson streets in Clunes was lodged in late February by iPlanning, a Ballarat company representing the land's owner, Rick Millar.
The land is currently used for agisting horses, and is the site of several extensive mullock heaps
Mr Millar, a resident of Balmoral and a candidate for the United Australia Party at the last election, lists his career as being a surveyor and cartographer in the Australian Army, producing digital geological maps for the mining sector, and a foreign aid worker.
Locals expressed concern the development may have unforeseen health risks in social media posts.
"If the dirt from that mullock heap is disturbed, it will create 'another' public health risk... making airborne the heavy metal mining legacy that surrounds Clunes," one poster to the Clunes online noticeboard wrote.
Another suggested the heaps were not protected but might contain toxic waste.
"From memory, there isn't a heritage overlay on mullock heaps that would prevent them being disturbed or removed. However, disturbing them isn't a great idea - they are full of toxicity from natural heavy metals dug up from underground and the poisons used in processing the ore in mining practices back in the day," they wrote.
Several others lamented the possibility of heritage being lost if the mullock heaps were levelled or rehabilitated. Clunes has a long history of deep lead gold mining and claims to be the site of the first payable gold discovery in Victoria, in 1850.
The Courier is awaiting a response from Mr Millar and Hepburn Shire Council.
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