Planning Minister Intervenes In Golf Course Saga

FEBRUARY 11 2013

PRESS RELEASE

Friends of the Earth today expressed its disappointment at the actions of Planning Minister Matthew Guy in amending the Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme in order to facilitate the construction of Eastern Golf Club's new course at Yering Gorge, one kilometre upstream from the offtake to Sugarloaf Reservoir.

Friends of the Earth spokesperson Anthony Amis said, “This golf course is to be located in a totally inappropriate location. Not only does the site flood regularly as it is located on a floodplain, the course plans to use over 30 pesticides. These pesticides include carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting compounds. Why would anyone even entertain notions of using these substances in such close proximity to a major city's drinking water supply? Why would a Minister want to have an issue as delicate as this one on his resume?”

Eastern Golf Club has been planning to move from their present location at Doncaster to Yering for a number of years. In 2010 the move was thwarted by VCAT, who decided that a number of planning issues had not been appropriately dealt with. Yarra Ranges Shire approved the redrafted plans in September 2012. Another VCAT hearing about this issue was due to start on Monday 11th of February, however due to the Minister's actions this hearing will not probably eventuate.

“It would appear to us that the Minister's decision will make a few hundred golfers happy, but the decision could well impact on the 1.5 million people that drink and shower in water that is supplied from Sugarloaf Reservoir. These residents live mainly in the city's northern and western suburbs. The decision could also reverberate for decades to come, as that will probably be the length of time that the course will remain at Yering.”

The Minister's decision also contradicts recent planning issues surrounding developments in water supply catchments in other regions of Victoria, including the second decision by The Supreme Court in 2010 [Rozen Vs Macedon Ranges Shire Council [2010] VSC 583 that the precautionary principle should be applied not only where there is a risk of irreversible damage, but also where there is a risk of serious damage to the environment. “Why has the health of the Yarra River and the safety of Melbourne's drinking water not been mentioned in his recent amendments to the Yarra Ranges Shire Planning Scheme?” Mr Amis concluded.

For Further Information call Anthony Amis 0425 841 564