Saturday, 13 November 2010

Want golf or a gargle? Moves to protect Melbourne water.

Environmental Groups Take Legal Action against $65 Million Golf Course Development, to Safeguard Melbourne's Drinking Water

Environmental Organisations Friends of the Earth (FoE) and Healesville Environment Watch Inc (HEWI) and Melbourne resident Bill Boerkamp will take part in a hearing in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) on Monday November 15, in the hope of quashing development plans for a $65 million golf course development planned by Eastern Golf Club at Yering.

Click to enlarge
Sugarloaf Reservoir with the Melbourne CBD in the background
6 September 2010

Eastern Golf Club is moving from its current Doncaster location, with land at Doncaster possibly set to earn the club over $100 million. Total development costs of the Doncaster land could top $1 billion.
The environmental organisations are very concerned that the development is located on a sensitive floodplain that floods regularly and is located only one kilometre upstream from the offtake to Sugarloaf Reservoir which pumps drinking water from the Yarra River. The Yarra at this location is also known to support habitat for three threatened native fish species, the Australian Grayling, the Murray Cod and the Macquarie Perch

A spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Anthony Amis said:

"With the recent rainfall, a large portion of the the site where the golf course is to be built has been inundated with flood water. Friends of the Earth is deeply concerned that runoff from agrochemicals used on the course could impact on drinking water quality for 1.5 million Melbournians who source their drinking water from Sugarloaf


From our estimations up to 50 tonnes of fertiliser could be used on the course during establishment and ~ 13 tonnes of fertiliser required each year. This is on top of the pesticides that the course plans to use, several of which have been associated with health problems. Surely in the 21st we have gone beyond the need to place such chemical dependent land uses in our water supplies. We also understand that Melbourne Water support this development but only with stringent conditions that the course is now opposing.”


Felicity Millner, solicitor from the Environment Defenders Office, who is representing Friends of the Earth in the proceedings, added


"We will argue that the precautionary principle requires the golf course not be granted a planning permit because the risks to the health of humans and ecology of the Yarra River are not properly understood.”


Yarra River floodplain
6 September 2010


Spokesperson for HEWI Jacqui Feagan said:


“HEWI is very concerned at the prospect of a golf course precinct (comprising 3 large golf courses) on this sensitive floodplain area at Yering. HEWI believes that such a precinct is contrary to the Regional Strategy Plan for the Yarra Valley and will place an unacceptable burden on the iconic Yarra River and its environs. Excessive water extraction from the Yarra River in each of the last three years, 2007-9, left the river with only 30% of the natural run-off – the lowest on record – so new impacts will be compounded by such a reduced level of water flow. HEWI is also deeply concerned about the irreversible damage to the floodplain, the loss of prime agricultural land and biodiversity that another golf course would impose on this region.”


For Further Information 
Call Anthony Amis on 0425 841 564 or 9419 8700 (ext 11)
Yarra River - Yering Gorge - 3
Yarra River, Yering Gorge
6 September 2010

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