NEWS 3 June 2022 |

In a victory as rare as the Spiny Riceflower, the Grassy Plains Network has saved an endangered grassland from destruction!

Last Friday, the Grassy Plains Network won their  Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) case against the private developer hell-bent on erasing and subdividing one of Melbourne’s surviving critically endangered grasslands at Ajax Road in Hobson’s Bay.

The Ajax Road Grassland is a large, special, intact remnant grassland thick with Kangaroo Grass and spotted with rare species like Spiny Rice-flower and Arching Flax-lily. It is also in a crucial location that adds to the landscape connectivity of Melbourne’s west.

Ajax Road Grassland can now keep doing what it does best – be a vital habitat for birds, lizards and critically endangered plants. This success is entirely thanks to the tireless work of the  the Grassy Plains Network, the local council and dedicated nature-lovers.

You can read the full verdict VCAT verdict here.

The hearing

The Grassy Plains Network challenged the validity of the developer’s proposed onsite offset because it was threatened by sea-level rise from climate change. They argued that the survey work likely missed important wildlife hidden under the thick cover of grass (the result of deliberate mismanagement by the developer over at least a dozen years).

Their legal represenatation took a deep dive into the planning scheme, and the clauses that support the environment but are rarely implemented. Expert witnesses also took a close look at the flaws in the offset system in place for grasslands.

At the core of the argument against issuing a permit for the site was the concept of net community benefit. The Network argued that the community would benefit more from saving irreplaceable grassland than the creation of some industrial warehouses.

They emphasised the myriad of benefits that protecting the Ajax Road Grassland would bring: protecting wildlife habitat, water filtration, the human health and wellbeing that nature in urban areas can provide to Melbourne’s residents.

Of the results, Adrian Marshall, Facilitator of the Grassy Plains Network said:

The developer’s application to subdivide and clear all the vegetation on the northern half of the Ajax Road Grassland site has been refused!

The 35 hectares of grassland will keep doing what it does best – be a vital habitat for birds, lizards and critically endangered plants. It will keep providing ecological connectivity, urban resilience and just as importantly, be a piece of wild nature in the big city. 

This important step was possible because of the determination of the Hobsons Bay City Council who also fought for the protection of the grassland, and the community around Ajax Road, in Altona and whole of the West.

The Victorian National Parks Association hosts the Grassy Plains Network. To stay up to date with all things grasslands, we encourage you to sign up to their mailing list if you haven’t already.

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