Destroying habitat, risking native wildlife and the biosecurity of the Yarra Ranges National Park contradicts the National Parks Act.

But that’s what the Yarra Ranges Council is planning. They want to construct mountain bike tracks through threatened rainforest on Mount Donna Buang.

Last week the Independent Advisory Committee handed a report of their findings to the new Minister for Planning Lizzie Blandthorn. It’s now her turn to make a decision on whether the track through the park goes ahead.

Ask Minister Blandthorn to keep nature protection on track and rule out bike tracks in the Yarra Ranges National Park.

We’ll send the following message on your behalf.


To Minister Blandthorn,

Re: Proposed Warburton Mountain Bike Destination in Yarra Ranges National Park  

Firstly, congratulations on your new role in the Victorian Parliament.

I’m deeply concerned about the proposed Warburton Mountain Bike Destination in the Yarra Ranges National Park, and the impact it will have on water quality, endangered wildlife and national park values.  

The track I am concerned about is a small part, about 12 per cent, of the whole project (177km). This part will negatively impact the Yarra Ranges National Park, our water catchment and critically endangered wildlife habitat, as has been raised in the project’s EES process.  

I note that an Environmental Effects Statement (EES), under the Planning Environment Act, has been underway, which has heard from experts in various fields. The public hearing has now finished, and the evidence presented reaffirms my concerns that Warburton Mountain Bike Track in Yarra Ranges National Park is unacceptable and will:  

  • Damage native wildlife and habitats: This includes the critically endangered Mount Donna Buang Wingless Stonefly and one of best remaining intact patch of Cool Temperate Rainforest in the state, as well as a range of other rare and threatened species. 
  • Attempt to override the National Parks Act: The process appears to be designed to use planning controls to override legislation and land tenure, such as area protected under the National Park Act 1975.  
  • Opens up protected water catchments: The current proposal also seeking overturn long standing protection restricting public access to Melbourne drinking water catchments.
  • Compound climate change impacts: The EES documents, studies and process developed by the proponent virtually ignore the implications of climate change and the compounding impacts on the ecology by the bike track development.

Whatever the final Independent Advisory Committee report recommends, any bike track in the national park still requires approval by relevant ministers and agencies, such as Parks Victoria and Melbourne Water. It may also require legislative change.  

This part of the project in the national park (a legally protected area) should never have got this far and should be ruled out. 

Before any approvals were granted for any parts of the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination, the council accepted millions in funding from the federal and state governments, as well as allocating significant ratepayer dollars to fund Stage 1, which is mostly in state forest. Stage 2 of the project, in the Yarra Ranges National Park, is currently unfunded.

This is a growing problem for our national parks and protected areas. Recreation or tourism ideas are funded without appropriate due diligence to the screening of ecological values and the legal arrangements and management of protected natural areas for  conservation.  No state government funds should be committed to Stage 2 of the project.

As well as ruling out bike tracks in the Yarra Ranges National Park, the Victorian Government should:  

  • Develop a screening process for ecological and national park impacts for large-scale tourism and recreation infrastructure before funding is committed.
  • Establish a state-wide mountain bike plan to make sure they are created in the right place – both ecologically, social and economically.  

 

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