Friends of Nillumbik Inc.
Bulletin for May, 2016
Green Wedge protection still hangs in the balance.
On Tuesday 26th April, before a capacity gallery noisily disrupted by an organised group of objectors, council narrowly voted to send Amendment C101 (mapping for habitat protection) to a panel hearing, rejecting their previous decision of 13th April, to abandon it. (see “shock decision” bulletin, April). Crs Young and Coleman this time joined Hattam and Van Hulsen making the vote 4/3 for a panel. Crs King, Perkins and Klein stuck with abandonment.
We now know that Cr Klein will seek to have this decision rescinded at the council meeting of 24th May, no doubt in favour of abandonment once again.
The 24th May meeting will also decide the future of Amendment C81 which protects rural landscapes. C81 has been endorsed by an independent panel (with changes) but councillors still need to hear community opinions about the panel findings and these will be heard at the Tuesday 10th May Policy & Services meeting (7.00pm tomorrow) Supporters of landscape protection will be needed in the gallery. Please also register to speak (council web site or phone)
So the ordinary meeting of council on 24th May will be of great significance for the future of Nillumbik’s Green Wedge.
Facts, allegations and misinformation about C101:
The only fair way to resolve contentious issues with a planning scheme amendment is with a panel hearing (like what has just happened for C81). It doesn’t favour either side of the debate and gives objectors, submitters and the council another chance to put their case and have viewpoints rationally and independently assessed.
Council has already provided clarification through the officers’ report in the Policy & Services meeting agenda of 13th April and their web site link: “Find out the facts about C101” – but there’s been a lot of ill-founded scuttlebutt and rumour doing the rounds.
The link describes all the most common complaints which were made by objectors to C101, and officer responses suggest that the points raised are either groundless, based on misinformation, or have been remedied. Objectors who remain unconvinced have access to an independent panel.
It’s clear that some are deliberately peddling misinformation about C101 for what can only be assumed, are political reasons – after all, there’ll be local council elections later this year.
Once again, it’s a case of: “don’t let the facts get in the way of a good (anti-council) story” – and the usual suspects are involved. They hope to gain from more council meeting disruption/intimidation.
For Nillumbik, this is nothing new. There’s no substitute for checking the facts oneself. All the documents are readily available.
Why should C101 be supported?
1. Planning law says our planning scheme must provide for the “maintenance of ecological processes and genetic diversity.” (Sec 4(1) Planning and Environment Act, 1987) This is what C101 does!
2. Most rural land in Nillumbik is in the Rural Conservation Zone. The purpose of this zone includes: “To protect the natural environment and natural processes for their faunal habitat…..values, and the biodiversity of the area”, and, “To provide for agricultural use consistent with the conservation of environmental and landscape values of the area” (35.06, Planning Scheme). C101 matches the purpose of the land where it will apply!
3. The Bushfire Royal Commission wanted biodiversity conservation to be given “due consideration” (Recommendation 39); and it recommended setting limits to the removal of native vegetation (Recommendation 41); and it called for biodiversity mapping throughout Victoria (Recommendation 43) Biodiversity mapping is what C101 is doing!
4. Council’s Biodiversity Strategy (2011) points out: Australia has one of the worst records in the world for the loss of animal and plant life: In Victoria 44% of native plants and more than 30% of animal species are already either extinct or threatened with extinction. So if biodiversity management is to be effective then it should become a core function of local government. This is what C101 will do!
It’s clear to see why council is pursuing Amendment C101. It’s in the public interest.
Co-operation or conflict?
Private owners of rural land play an essential role in conserving our Green Wedge for the future. Good land management practices maintain sensitive habitat areas in accordance with the land’s zoning and help local flora and fauna survive. It seems clear that owners who are already doing this will not be affected by the requirements of C101.
We hope misinformation about the amendment has not damaged the spirit of co-operation which is important for habitat protection on private land.
While we’re talking about biodiversity:
Have your say on the State Government’s draft, “Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2036”. Submissions are due this month. Log onto Dept. Environment, Land, Water and Planning web site.
Greg Johnson (President)
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