Bulletin 1 July 2020
Green Wedges Coalition - a vision for Melbourne
Bulletin No 1 (July 2020)
This is an occasional publication to highlight issues of major importance to the future of the Green Wedges and is also posted on the organisation’s website at www.gwc.org.au
State Government Review of Green Wedges Planning Policy Provisions
The Victorian State Government through the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is undertaking a major review of the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP) for the Green Wedges.
This review is the most significant event for the future of the Green Wedges since their legislative recognition and implementation in 2002.
In 2018 prior to the State elections, the Minister for Planning committed to a review of planning for the Green Wedges to ‘ensure that planning rules are rewritten through a public process to clearly define permitted land uses and protect the green wedges’. And that ‘the new rules will protect environment, landscape, agriculture, and rural industry of each area, and put a cap on the size of developments’.
The Green Wedges Coalition considers the future of the Green Wedges is at a tipping point where planning policy is urgently needed to be strengthened to protect the Green Wedges from the pressures of urbanisation.
The extent of the potential impact of pressures for urbanisation can be gauged by the fact that some 346,000 hectares of land zoned as privately owned in the Green Wedges (zoned Green Wedge Zone, Green Wedge A Zone and Rural Conservation Zone) is in imminent danger of being largely replaced by a landscape dominated by buildings and associated infrastructure.
This creeping urbanisation takes many forms with the pressure for more and more buildings in the Green Wedges being enormous whether it is for residential development, schools, places of worship or tourism developments and the like.
DELWP released the consultation paper Planning Melbourne’s Green Wedges and Agricultural Land on 3 June 2020 to government stakeholders, including local government.
DELWP has advised that the consultation paper is proposed to be released for comment to the general public on 12 August 2020 for a period of ten weeks ending on the 21 October 2020.
The Green Wedges Coalition is organising a briefing session for delegates with DELWP prior to the beginning of the public consultation that is likely to be at the end of July.
The Green Wedges Coalition has prepared a comprehensive draft of an issues paper that is included as separate file attachments with this bulletin. This draft document is available in two forms, one is a PDF which is most suitable for reading on a screen and the other a ‘Word’ document that is accessible for delegates to cut and paste where you find it useful for preparing your own response during the consultation.
Parliamentary Inquiry into ecosystem decline in Victoria
The Legislative Council Environment and Planning Committee has commenced an inquiry into ecosystem decline in Victoria that will look at measures to restore habitats and populations of threatened and endangered species, including but not limited to:
(a) the extent of the decline of Victoria’s biodiversity and the likely impact on people, particularly First Peoples, and ecosystems, if more is not done to address this, including consideration of climate change impacts;
(b) the adequacy of the legislative framework protecting Victoria’s environment, including grasslands, forests and the marine and coastal environment, and native species;
(c) the adequacy and effectiveness of government programs and funding protecting and restoring Victoria’s ecosystems;
(d) legislative, policy, program, governance and funding solutions to facilitate ecosystem and species protection, restoration and recovery in Victoria, in the context of climate change impacts;
(e) opportunities to restore Victoria’s environment while upholding First Peoples’ connection to country, and increasing and diversifying employment opportunities in Victoria; and
(f) any other related matters.
The closing date for submissions is Monday 31 August 2020.
The Green Wedges Coalition is preparing a submission a draft of which will be circulated to delegates later in July.
YARRA RIVER STRATEGIC PLAN - HEARINGS, 26 May–5 June 2020
The Yarra River Strategic Plan Panel Hearings were held between 26 May and 5 June. The hearings were a response to the draft 10-year Yarra Strategic Plan, which was prepared in accordance with the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017.
The Act is the first legislation in Australia to be co-titled and have the preamble in a Traditional Owner language.
This is the first time that a large river and its entire corridor has been recognised as ‘a single living and integrated natural entity for protection’.
A new statutory body, the Birrarung Council, has been established to act as a dedicated and independent voice for the river. Also, It is intended that the plan be rolled out as a model for the management of other rivers throughout the state, so the implications are profound.
With Melbourne Water as the lead agency overseeing the process, public submissions were made between January and March, and submitters were then given the opportunity to present to the panel. On behalf of the Friends of the Glenfern Green Wedge, I attended every day of the hearings (conducted online) and delivered our presentation on 5 June. I was greatly impressed by the submissions made by various friends’ groups, including Friends of Banyule, Friends of the Yarra Valley Parks, and Friends of Eltham Lower Park, as well as a number of individual submitters involved with various revegetation/conservation projects and professional organisations such as Riparian Australia Pty Ltd. These groups contributed a wealth of experience and knowledge to the discussion. Environmental Justice Australia and Yarra Riverkeeper Association also gave a powerful presentation drawing upon the detailed expert testimony of Dr Graeme Lorimer (on ecology and biodiversity) and James Reid (on planning).
One of the main points of contention throughout the hearings was the implementation of permanent controls along the Yarra concerning building height restrictions and a 30-metre buffer zone along the river. We argued very strongly for the controls as being in accordance with the Victorian Planning Provisions, Clause 14.02, which specifies a 30-metre buffer along both sides of waterways. The parties arguing against mandatory controls were a private school adjacent to the Yarra and a property developer. However, a State Government media release on 22 June announced that permanent controls will be implemented along the Yarra between Richmond and Warrandyte. Hopefully, the panel will recommend to extend the controls along the remaining length of the river. This is especially important in the reaches beyond Warrandyte as the C148 Amendment of the Shire of Yarra Ranges (if approved), will exempt land outside the Urban Growth Boundary from the public-space contribution required under Clause 53.01 of the VPP, so we will lose this important mechanism for acquiring and permanently protecting land alongside rivers in the Yarra Ranges.
The panel will submit their final report to the Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, by the end of July, and the finalisation of the Strategic Plan is due in late 2020. For more information and all relevant documents, see: