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Protectors of Public Lands, Victoria update on 2017 activities and forthcoming AGM

It has been a difficult year for PPL Vic following the death of our longstanding Secretary, founder and driving force, Julianne Bell at the end of January, 2017. Notwithstanding this huge loss, we have continued the good work of PPLVic. See inside for details.

The PPLVic Committee has met 3 times this year and committee members have continued to work on issues in relation to public lands issues as outlined below:

1. Riversdale Park

Our current focus on this issue is a continuation of previous work. PPLVic maintains that a proposed cycle route in Riversdale Park threatens the amenity and safety of the park due to the considerable changes foreshadowed, including the bisection of the path for commuter cycling as well as removal of 7 trees and loss of 2 areas of parkland east and west. Anna Carina and Jill Quirk had a meeting with local state MP, John Pesutto, regarding this issue. He was sympathetic and said he intended lobbying with both local council and with the Minister involved for a better outcome.

2. PPLVic supported the Residents Against Mordialloc Freeway (RAMF)

PPLVic supported the Residents Against Mordialloc Freeway (RAMF) in their request for an EES for Peninsula Link extension in view of the project’s impingement on local wetlands. We have just learned that the group has been successful in obtaining an EES for the project. https://www.facebook.com/RAMF-Residents-Against-Mordialloc-Freeway-960553247333561/

3. West Gate Tunnel Proposal.

This industry-conceived and led project proposes major freeway and tunnel construction, affecting public land from the city end of the Moonee Ponds Creek through to Melbourne’s western suburbs. A submission and presentation were given to the West Gate Tunnel Project Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) on September 15th by Ernest Healy on behalf of PPL Vic. The presentation criticised the relatively poor quality of the public land promised by the developers along the foreshadowed freeway corridor, the damage to the remnant natural environs of the Moonee Ponds Creek and the diversion of scarce public funding to population growth led capital widening at the expense of adequate public transport investment and genuine economic renewal.

4. PPL Vic’s involvement relates to the proposed Melbourne Planning Scheme Amendment C281 applying to freeway apartment construction proximate to Royal Park.

The developer- initiated amendment would see the height of some apartment buildings doubled from the initial proposal height of 11 floors, leading to overshadowing of areas of the Park and significant loss of visual amenity from within the Park. Committee member Joe Edmonds has taken a leading role in formulating and presenting the case against the amendment, which would see high rise erected right next to remnant royal Park Wetland areas. Joe Edmonds and Ernest Healy presented PPLs Vic’s objections concerning this amendment to Planning Minister advisory and departmental staff on October 5th.

5. Protest action against undemocratic moves by Moreland City Council

Along with a number of other community action groups, on August 5th, PPL Vic participated in a protest action outside the Brunswick Town Hall, to express concern over recent attempts by the Moreland City Council to pass revised general bylaws widely considered to be undemocratic. The initially proposed bylaws would have made it illegal to hold street stalls, distribute hand bills, or hold political protests without a council permit. Council has since backtracked on this initiative.

6. Rushall Reserve, Fitzroy

On September 19th 2017, Fiona Bell made a submission to Yarra City Council on behalf of Protectors of Public Lands Vic Inc. regarding the proposed pathway through Rushall Reserve, North Fitzroy to which there has been a great deal of local opposition. It is currently a quiet cul-de-sac park with easy access from an existing bike path that enters the park. Last year the Council decided to make a 2.0 meter wide path go from the Rushall Station through the park over an escarpment above the Merri Creek requiring the removal of many trees.
PPLVic opposes this path, considering it unnecessary given the current access and close proximity of other paths. It will destroy the integrity of this small but important cul-de-sac park. Other important conservation issues include the destruction of numerous trees, including many large and significant eucalypts. They are habitat trees for birds and other animals. The migrating and critically endangered Swift Parrot has been seen in them. Furthermore the tree roots help to provide stability for the escarpment and no geological survey been done to assess the stability of the rock face.

The proposed path is also very close to the railway line. No mention seems to have been made concerning the possible danger caused by train derailments next to the proposed pathway, and these derailments have occurred in the recent past. Significantly it appears that no studies have been taken to determine the actual need for this path. No count of cyclists has been done to determine how many cyclists are likely to wish to use this path, and where they will be coming from or going to. The cost of approximately $600,000 is considerable. The fact that Rushall Reserve is also a culturally significant area and the site of the Batman Woiwurrung Treaty of 1835 has also been raised in opposing this project.

Unfortunately, the councillors voted with a majority in favour of the original location of the path, that breaks up the large open area and for the pathway to be 2.5 meters wide instead of 2 meters wide. Final plans need to be drawn up and permits obtained that will need to take into account all issues and practicalities and there are more opportunities for objections.

7. Port Campbell coastal public land

Committee member, Marion Manifold has been campaigning in the Port Campbell area to protect public land from specific inappropriate large scale developments associated with a push for ever larger numbers of visitors to the shipwreck coast.

Ongoing issues on the Port Campbell coast 2016-17 include a proposed $9 million resort on the Gellibrand River estuary flood plain (a wetlands of national significance) near Princetown. If it is built there would be: Crown Lands utilised to create road access and walking tracks; major earthworks potentially changing the natural river estuary system, potential septic leakage; risk to visitors from flood waters; and impacts on endangered fauna including Latham’s snipe, the Australasian bittern, Australian Grayling, and Southern Brown Bandicoot.

The community group works to educate on Port Campbell coastal issues including publishing an article in the University of New South Wales Law Journal special edition ‘Rethinking Climate Change and the Law’. The article gives a history of the 10-year Southern Ocean Beach House development saga through 6 VCAT hearings. An important part of the article and other articles is an emphasis on community expertise and involvement in decision-making. See article at: http://www.unswlawjournal.unsw.edu.au/

A talk was also given to the Australian Conservation Foundation community program for the University of the Third Age on coastal planning issues and biodiversity advocacy and protection. Submissions were also made into the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan which encourages development of the Port Campbell National Park and Port Campbell Township, and submissions to Amendment C45 which proposes to change local planning policy advocating for greater tourism numbers and growth.

PPLVic-Annual General Meeting

The PPLVic Committee is presently organising the AGM which will be held on the afternoon of November 11th 2017 at the Flemington Community Centre. Apart from the core business of electing a management committee for the coming period, and an address by PPLVic Patron Hon. Kelvin Thomson we look forward to hearing ideas from members about possible future priorities, strategies and modified operation of the organisation in the changed circumstances. A formal notice will be sent out shortly.

Sincerely,
Ernest Healy
President: Protectors of Public Lands Victoria
P.O. Box 197
Parkville 3052

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