By Luke Voogt
TV personality Catriona Rowntree has refused to respond to a developer’s claim she led a “fake campaign” against a proposed quarry in the You Yangs.
Bisinella spokesperson David Withington criticised Ms Rowntree as the company decided against appealing a council rejection of the quarry plan.
Ms Rowntree ignored the comments, instead praising the work of Lara residents who opposed the project.
“I’m proud of both myself and our beautiful community that we stood up to this developer,” she told the Indy from Thailand on Tuesday.
“It is an awful situation that you’re unwillingly thrown into.”
The Getaway host, who lives near the proposed quarry site, welcomed Bisinella’s choice not to appeal council’s decision at Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
“The community will be a safer place for this decision,” she said.
“We’ll be forever grateful to the (council) administrators for being reasonable and protecting this area.”
Earlier this week Mr Withington attacked Ms Rowntree’s opposition to the project as a case of NIMBY – not in my backyard – syndrome.
Ms Rowntree made a submission to council against the quarry and opposed it on social media.
“Catriona Rowntree has told TV shows and magazines that she enjoys a peaceful lifestyle with her family at Wooloomanata yet she contradicts herself by saying in a submission to council that her life is already ‘hell’ because of the noise and dangers of quarry trucks going to and from existing quarries,” Mr Withington said.
However Lara Care Group, one of several community organisations opposing the quarry, leapt to Ms Rowntree’s defence.
“To drag her name through the dirt like this is just outrageous,” said group president Barry White.
“She presented some very good arguments and she does a hell of a lot for the Geelong community.”
Ms Rowntree was reluctant to give Mr Withington’s attack “too much air”, Mr White said.
“She recognises she was just one player among many.”
Mr Withington also slammed the administrators’ “hasty and ill-considered” refusal, saying Bisinella would not invest further funds in legal proceedings.
The administrators’ rejection of the quarry squandered 65 jobs and jeopardised growth, he said.
Bisinella had gone “to great lengths” responding to concerned local farmers and activists, Mr Withington said.
He refuted locals’ submissions stating the quarry would harm the environment and tourism, saying few You Yangs visitors came near its “extractive industries zone”.
Mr Withington said the administrators’ panel to hear objectors’ submissions produced “a mistake-riddled and fundamentally flawed report”.
But Mr White described the claim as a “total distortion”, saying more than 3000 people petitioned against the quarry and the council received more than 260 objections.
“These covered everything from damage to the landscape, the impact on wildlife, road safety, family visits and cycling.”