NEWS 1 November 2022 |

Victoria’s planning minister has rejected the largest sections of the proposed ‘Warburton Mountain Bike Destination’, labelling them “unacceptable” for construction in the Yarra Ranges National Park.

The assessment of Warburton Destination Mountain Bike Track has finally been released by the Minister for Planning, Hon. Lizzie Blandthorn MP.

Months after the decision was originally expected to be made, the large “signature” tracks (trails numbered 1, 45, 46 and 47) in the Yarra Ranges National Park have been unequivocally rejected.

The report notes that the proposed and highly problematic track network presented an “…unacceptable risk of significant effects particularly on Cool Temperate Rainforest and Cool Temperate Mixed Forest and the Mount Donna Buang Wingless Stonefly, which are of high conservation value”.

During the entire Environment Effects Statement (EES) process the Victorian National Parks Association worked tirelessly to show that clearing habitat, risking wildlife and compromising the biosecurity of the Yarra Ranges National Park contradicts the conservation objectives of the National Parks Act.

VNPA welcomes the minister’s decision. Along with local groups, experts and conservationists, we participated in many days of hearings, contributed lengthy submissions, and brought expert witnesses and legal representation to demonstrate the importance of keeping large-scale development out of the protected area.

The Warburton Mountain Bike Destination Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) and planning minister were clear in their support for ruling out these damaging proposals, “Consistent with the IAC, I therefore conclude that Trails 1, 45, 46 and 47 should not be implemented as part of the project. As a result, the project’s potential impact on environmental values in the Yarra Ranges National Park should be substantially reduced.

Caption: Pink crosses illustrate the rejected track networks in the Yarra Ranges National Park

The report did review several of the smaller tracks (2-8) in the Yarra Ranges National Park and resolved them to be adequate for less pristine parts of the park.

While these tracks are approved, they will be subject to further assessment under the National Parks Act, and their impact on local flora and fauna.

Additional measures to protect the park also include:

  • No go zones for stone fly habitat. The final assessment recommended additional mapping be carried out for Mount Donna Buang Stonefly upper sections of Trails 5, 6 and 8. The Independent Assessment Committee did not support any project activities, including trails, within or adjacent to known or suitable habitat for the species and recommended that no-go zones be applied to these areas.
  • No night riding in either the national park or state forest.
  • Additional measures to manage the risk of Myrtle Wilt spreading from individual trees to nearby stands of the threatened communities.
  • Hazardous tree assessment be undertaken before construction starts, based on advice from a suitably qualified arborist.
  • The assessment also noted that there may need to be other changes.

The rest of project in the Yarra Ranges State Forest was largely approved, with some modifications.

The results of the EES assessment is a timely recognition of the importance of our national parks. It also highlights the need for early and clear assessment of proposals for large-scale development in our key protected areas and the threatened wildlife that inhabit them.

Learn more about why defending the integrity of the Yarra Ranges National Parks is so important.

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Page last updated: 01/11/2022