THE future of petrol in Natimuk is uncertain, however community members are continuing their fight to return the essential service to town.
Natimuk relies on Horsham as its closest source of fuel. There are no petrol stations for travellers between Horsham and Edenhope, which is more than a 90 kilometere drive.
Mogas Horsham and District business manager Daryl Anders said a petition to return fuel to Natimuk was started in July 2018. It received 200 signatures in under two weeks and was given to Horsham Rural City Council in August.
“This is something the town has been asking for for a very long time. It won’t just benefit the locals, it will help the farmers out on the farms and tourists driving through,” Mr Anders said.
At Horsham Rural City Council’s January meeting the council passed a motion to consider the planning application for a proposed service station at 123 Main Street, Natimuk.
The planning application was placed on public notification and resulted in 28 objections being received. The council also received a petition signed by 45 signatories, objecting to the planning application.
After the planning application lapsed, Mr Anders said he consulted to the council.
“I guess the 28 objections the council received outweighed the 200-plus signatures that were for the location. We spent $15,000 for the planning application and for the plans to get drawn up,” he said.
“We had everything drawn up and the council was very supportive to a certain point, but it didn’t want to go against the objections.
“There are many people in Natimuk who support it. Some of the objections just didn’t make any sense at all,. like complaining about the lights or the extra dust.”
He said the plan for the fuel depot would be a pre-paid, non-manned site.
“I would just be a tank and pipework underneath the ground, with a bowser and pay station. It would be refilled once a week,” he said.
Mr Anders said the council was willing to work with him to look at another site location. The suggested location is the old petrol station which is now a museum run by the Arapiles Historical Society.
“We have been in talks with the Arapiles Historical Society to use the location of the old petrol station – they said no. We’re willing to pay them to lease the space for 10 years,” he said.
“The 123 Main Street site probably wasn’t the best one to go with, but it needs to be on the main road. There really aren’t many alternative locations on the main road. We’re looking for the cheapest option and both the site suggested would be able to get up and running straight away.
“If this second option doesn’t go through, then I don’t think Natimuk will ever get fuel. We really need the historical society to get on board.”
Horsham mayor Mark Radford said the council was supportive of a push to return fuel to Natimuk.
“It’s in the council’s plan to have some sort of fuel depot in Natimuk. We want to see it happen,” he said.
“Before the application was submitted, the applicant had spoken to the historical society and were knocked back. Another location was then suggested and it went through a planning process. That then hit a brick wall; time ran out and the application lapsed.
“The council wants to work with the applicant to find a new place. I’m sure the people who opposed the location still support an outlet.”
The Wimmera Mail-Times contacted Arapiles Historical Society for comment but did not receive a response before deadline.
While you’re with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox twice weekly from the Wimmera Mail-Times. To make sure you’re up-to-date with all the news from across the Wimmera, sign up below.