Geelong Strategic Assessment
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Local biodiversity under threat
The stakes are high. The Geelong Strategic Assessment is fast-tracking the development of 6000 hectares that includes endangered grassland, grassy woodland and the Moorabool River. Developers stand to make windfall profits at the cost of the environment.
The Northern and Western Geelong Growth Areas are on track to become Geelong’s newest suburbs. It’s country that contains ephemeral watercourses and critically endangered grasslands. These are places home to federally-listed Striped Legless Lizards, Golden Sun Moth, Spiny Rice-flower and state-listed species such as Leafless Bluebush and Melbourne Yellow Gum.
Much can be gained by integrating considerations of natural values into the planning processes at the earliest stage possible. If done well, this can allow the establishment of interconnected areas of biodiversity, reduction in fragmentation, better protections, reductions in weed impacts, reduction of risk, early identification of strategically important assets, and greater certainty for developers, planners and the community.
But the disastrous Melbourne Strategic Assessment showed that fast-tracked development can mean poor processes, big savings for developers, all the risk borne by the environment, and the loss of irreplaceable natural areas. Many promises and commitments, so much failure to deliver.
The Grassy Plains Network is working hard with local environmental groups to make sure the City of Greater Geelong does the right thing.
In order to achieve genuinely good results for the environment and for people, it is critical we get the planning right now for this substantial planning activity. But the draft Geelong Strategic Assessment is not shaping up well.
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