27 Hole golf course approved in Melbourne water supply



Last night, the Yarra Ranges Shire approved the development of a golf course within a short distance of the offtake to Melbourne's drinking water supply at Yering Gorge. The Council voted 7:2 in favour of the development, citing tourist development as a major reason behind supporting the development.

The course, to be constructed by Eastern Golf Club, at a cost close to $50 million, had been stalled by individuals and environmental groups for the past two years.

The 27 hole course could include the use of over 30 pesticides. Much of the course lies on a flood plain that is inundated regularly. Pesticides to be used include carcinogens, groundwater contaminants, developmental/reproductive toxins and endocrine disruptors.

Friends of the Earth spokesperson Anthony Amis said; "We objected to the course being constructed in 2010 and we still oppose this massive development. The site is totally inappropriate for a development such as this. Yarra Ranges Shire approved the development in 2010 and only action by community groups at VCAT stalled the development from going ahead. Friends of the Earth has major concerns about the types of pesticides to be used and the possibility of offsite impacts to the Yarra River and the drinking water supply for 1.5 million people. We also have major concerns about hundreds of hectares of topsoil being exposed on a flood plain during construction of the course, which could take over 2 years to complete".

"Friends of the Earth called on Yarra Ranges Shire to oppose the development, but our calls were met with deafening silence by the Shire. Applications to see amended plans by Friends of the Earth were denied by council in 2011 and the project's main spokesperson last night read out parts of an email that had been sent privately to councillors last week. Which councillor passed on confidential emails to the developer, and why?" Mr Amis asked.

The course has also been approved by the EPA and Melbourne Water, who have included 146 permit conditions. "It is debatable how many of these conditions will actually be met and it is still unclear how the site will be properly managed during construction and after construction. Some conditions appear to be unworkable. For instance one condition forbids the use of endocrine disrupting pesticides, yet over a third of the pesticides that Eastern Golf course plan to use on the course are suspected endocrine disruptors" Mr Amis said.

For further information call Anthony Amis on 9830 6164 or 9419 8700 ext11