A dairy farmer’s application to install a water-efficient irrigation system has been caught up in a controversy over the Victorian Government’s new native vegetation clearing rules.ALEXANDRA BATHMAN August 5, 2014 3:20am
A dairy farmer’s application to install a water-efficient irrigation system has been caught up in a controversy over the Victorian Government’s new native vegetation clearing rules.
The Goulburn Valley Environment Group objected last week to Stuart Rea’s application to remove nine grey box trees on his Toolamba property in order to install two centre pivots.
Grey box woodlands vegetation communities are listed as endangered and protected under federal legislation and GVEG president John Pettigrew said the objection was made as a matter of principle.
‘‘It’s not that black and white. We don’t want to start a blue with the farmer,’’ Mr Pettigrew said.
‘‘It’s more about the government’s regulations.’’
Mr Pettigrew labelled the government as irresponsible and said the new rules were based on ‘‘deeply flawed’’ mapping.
One of the flaws found by ecologists was the Calder Park raceway being found in a ‘‘high’’ risk area when the mapping was first introduced in December.
Under the new rules, vegetation mapped in low risk areas and less than a hectare in size no longer requires on-site assessment, and environmentalists fear this will see endangered flora removed.
‘‘The government, by its own admission, knows this, but they are failing to protect scant native vegetation in our region leading to the loss of large trees and habitat for threatened species,’’ Mr Pettigrew said.
Mr Rea submitted his whole farm plan to Greater Shepparton City Council in March, and included an application for the clearing.
Until now, he said he was not fully aware of the debate the new mapping had created between environment groups and political parties.
Mr Pettigrew said GVEG was not against Mr Rea’s irrigation plan.
‘‘We are not anti-development — it depends on how the loss of those trees are compensated,’’ Mr Pettigrew said.
Under the new rules, Mr Rea would not be given any clear offsetting requirements until the application was approved by the council and DEPI.
‘‘There had been discussions of a significant number of trees and land that would be offset and we would abide by any requirements and conditions for this project to go ahead,’’ Mr Rea said.
‘‘I’m also planning to plant another tree line, which won’t be part of the offsetting, to create windbreaks for the pivots.
‘‘I believe the long-term environment benefits of my project, with water savings and tree planting, will outweigh any environment loss of removing the trees.’’
A Greater Shepparton City Council planning spokesperson said Mr Rea’s application was one of the council’s first of such a scale under the government’s new provisions.
The spokesperson said there had been no other objections to the application and council was considering GVEG’s objection and speaking with Mr Rea.
Shepparton’s Declo Bisimwa firmly believes education is the key to a better life.
Beautiful weather greeted Tungamah residents for the 18th running of the Tungamah Lions Ten Thousand on Sunday.
When Keith and Marion Grumley and their growing family moved to Tatura on January 18, 1968, little did they know that it would be the start of a long and lasting connection to the town.
Garners Boxing Gym in Echuca is encouraging young people to get active with weekly boxing/cardio classes.
Rochester Rotary Club has celebrated its 50th birthday in style.
Sorting future of Campaspe pools
A theatre production with a difference is coming to Seymour.
Local athletes will go head-to-head with some of the best competitors from around the world in swimming and athletics in December.
District residents and visitors will be able to enjoy some of the region’s most beautiful private gardens on Sunday.
The 116th annual Cobram Show went off with a bang at the weekend, drawing in crowds from far and wide for two days of fun.
Tomorrow is a Total Fire Ban day in Deniliquin, meaning no fires can be lit in the open and all fire permits are suspended.
Fifty new full-time jobs will be created at Tatura with a multimillion-dollar expansion of the abattoirs expected to be announced today.
Remembering Australian political giant Gough Whitlam who once called on Benalla police to stop then Treasurer Frank Crean on his journey up the Hume to phone the PM.
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