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Serendip Sanctuary: Why do we have to keep fighting our governments for our natural rights?

Approval to rezone the rural land opposite Serendip Sanctuary, Lara, near Geelong, sets a dangerous precedent for open slather development that places the wildlife protected there at risk and flies in the face of democracy. The Sanctuary is internationally recognised for successfully breeding captive species such as Brolga, Musk and Freckled Duck and now the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, which is on the brink of extinction. Serendip forms an important wildlife corridor between the You Yangs Regional Park and Brisbane National Park through agricultural land and the sprawl of Greater Melbourne as it spreads to meet the regional city of Geelong.

Why do Victorians and other Australians have to keep fighting over and over again to protect their rights from the very people who are supposed to be looking after their rights?

The new Liberal Government in Victoria needs to abandon Amendment C73 which was approved by City of Greater Geelong Councillors on 12 April 2011. Approval of C73 will allow rezoning of rural residential land to Residential 1. This retrograde step will literally pave the way for 380+ high density houses.

Residents have been opposing this application for 8 years!

What more do they need to do in a democracy?

Serendip Sanctuary under threat

Approval to rezone the rural land opposite Serendip Sanctuary crosses a line which should not be crossed and which the electorate does not want. To satisfy narrow ambitions to profit from unwanted development, wildlife at risk of extinction will be placed at greater risk.

Serendip Sanctuary is internationally recognised for successfully breeding captive species such as Brolga, Musk and Freckled Duck and now the Eastern Barred Bandicoot which is on the brink of Extinction. The 225 hectares that make it up were purchased and put aside by the Victoria State Government in 1959 for the purposes of wildlife research and the captive management and breeding of species threatened in Victoria. The sanctuary contains many different types of wetland and is home to many plant species as well, such as River Red Gums, tall spikerush, and tussock grass.

How can a supposedly expert and independent panel ignore the regional and international importance of this reserve?

Koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, brolgas, rare native geese...

Numerous nomadic wildlife, including Cape Barren geese, Magpie Geese and Eastern Grey kangaroos breed there and spill over on to the rural land surrounding the Sanctuary, which is only 2 km from You Yangs Regional Park. Serendip Sanctuary thus represents a very important wildlife corridor in an agricultural and small township area, which greater Melbourne is approaching in a pincer movement as it threatens to connect with the regional city of Geelong. The Serendip corridor ultimately leads, via the You Yangs Regional Park to the Brisbane Ranges National Park, which is a haven for koalas, which are daily losing their habitat to the unprecedented amount of development in Victoria and other states.

Serendip Sanctuary is just 45 minutes to the west of Melbourne but visitors will find that they are immediately amongst wild kangaroos and native birds, such as the animated honeyeaters and screeching cockatoos. The lake is the home of crowds of waterbirds. These waterbirds include the magnificent brolgas, celebrated in Aboriginal dance, now rarely seen by Australians.

These precious areas of nature on which our wildlife depend and which Australians and international tourists love will be inexcusably stressed if high density housing goes ahead opposite the Sanctuary, with the intensification of human activity and increase presence of cats, dogs and foxes which accompanies urbanization.

87% of Lara residents oppose this rural to urban rezoning.

Over 3000 residents or 87% of Lara’s enrolled voters have gone on record with submissions or petition signatures which were presented to the Legislative Assembly in November 2009 opposing the C73 Caddys Road Amendment. This level of public opposition is unprecedented in City of Greater Geelong Council history. The voice of the people was ignored by the Brumby Government.

"Independent Panel" unable to recognise importance of Serendip Sanctuary

Serendip Sanctuary and its environmental significance to Geelong and Victoria has been overlooked.

An Independent Panel undervalued the vast majority of serious environmental, safety and community issues that will result from C73 being approved.

As well as the blight on the environment that more development will cause, Lara also lacks infrastructure for additional population. Its schools are already overcrowded and there is a well documented history of fire and flood risk.

Much more careful planning with an emphasis on pulling back, less (development) is more, and quality living over quantity, is required for us all by Local and State Government. To the west of Lara there is already a huge area zoned for future development in Lara. There is thus no reasonable excuse to allow this new development to go ahead opposite the sanctuary.

Australians have a right to demand protection for their natural assets and to ensure peaceful co-existence with our wildlife.

Please help to protect Serendip Sanctuary and to protect Lara from inappropriate development by writing to the new Minister for Planning, Mathew Guy, and asking him to abandon the C37 Amendment which is the administrative culprit in the approaching man-made disaster.

Matthew Guy
Minister for Planning
State Parliament of Victoria
Level 7
1 Spring Street
MELBOURNE.V.3000

Email: matthew.guy[at]parliament.vic.gov.au

Comments

With consistent and 8 years of ongoing protests, non-political and non-violent activism, under a true democratic system, this development would surely be thrown in the bin as one that ticks all the boxes as being "inappropriate development"? Serendip has many native birds, and a recovered wetland system. Out of all the birds, 19 are of particular conservation significance and are listed under the EPBC Act, and The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. This case at Lara sets an important precedent.
If this conservation sanctuary, of international and regional significance, can't be protected, then there is little chance for any other! It must be won.
There is widespread environmental illiteracy in our population. The councilors at the City of Greater Geelong are no doubt simply "out of their depth". How could they be informed enough to understand the threats to our wildlife, and the significance of breeding Eastern Barred Bandicoots? Yet, 5 out of 9 approved the development?
Victoria is the State with the most land in private hands, and the one most cleared and damaged. Where are wildlife to live and breed in safety?
Victoria - and Australia - is being transformed into a generic, sterilised and de-constructed into an International territory for globalisation and multiculturalism, with almost nothing left or our natural heritage and indigenous past. Is this the bland and cleared Australia we really want? A sea not of native forests, grasslands, wetlands, woody bushland, but of mega-stores, roofs and roads?

News from TLC - "We have more positive news to share in our campaign to PROTECT SERENDIP SANCTUARY from inappropriate development.

"Our local M.P for Lara,John Eren has called in Amendment C73 to overturn Geelong Council's recent back flip and shameful decision to approve this development!

"We have a revised and updated a letter of objection to the Minister of Planning containing the correct terminology .(yes we have had to be educated now we are at State level)

We have also created a new Petition online.

Please sign the petition

He called Sheryl this morning and then went down to Lara and spent a lot of time with them all and went around the park with the animals. He has told Geelong Council he won't rezone so has given it back to them.

The people there are delighted and want to call an OPEN DAY for us all to go and see it for ourselves.

Good on Mr Guy!

I hope you are not joking Mary!

Serendip Sanctuary, Invitation to an open day on site next Sunday, 11 December from 12 Noon.