Wybejong Park, Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee and Protecting Our Small Settlement
What I love about working in Wybejong Park is that landscape management is possible. From
the culling of weeds to imagining planted vistas, it’s all possible because of collective labour.
When you have weeds on your private property, it’s up to you to deal with them. In Wybejong it’s
up to us, the team of worker bees.
At our January working bee, 7 of us cut and painted willow regrowth, dug out thistles, landscaped
under the new sign construction, brush cut the entrance hill to Riddell, brush cut the creek path
and under the picnic benches, weeded and pruned the car park garden, removed graffiti from a park bench and plotted and planned future endeavours at morning tea.
Wybejong Park is a small section of a wildlife corridor, the local section of the bio link connecting the grasslands and the Maribyrnong River to the Macedon Range. The Echidna and Wallaby you see under the bluestone arch are the same ones you see at Smiths Nursery. The Woolly Tea-Tree near the bridge is the same as those upstream. As well as going out with our dicky knees, bad backs, diggers and rakes, looking after the environment requires us all to respond to what planning authorities are doing.
In 2016, the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, appointed the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee to consult, hear submissions and prepare a report on how the Macedon Ranges should be protected. The Advisory Committee found Macedon Ranges Shire warranted protection with legislation and a Localised Planning Statement. Policy from Statement of Planning Policy No 8 has been the basis of planning in Macedon Ranges for over 40 years, and has made protection of Macedon Ranges’ water catchments, and its role as a State-significant location for leisure activities and nature conservation, the number one priority for decisions and actions.
In early 2017, the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, came to Gisborne and announced he accepted all of the Advisory Committee’s recommendations. Shortly after, the newly elected Macedon Ranges Shire councillors resolved to accept, and robustly implement, the Advisory Committee’s recommendations.
However the proposed Localised Planning Statement is worse than the status quo. It turns our small settlements into growth towns, diminishes heritage and environment values by singling out only State and National significance, and even removes existing policy protections from towns, rural land and environment.
In Riddells Creek, which only last year had 130ha rezoned for future residential development, another 120ha south of the railway line is added to the town (that’s an additional 250ha in total), for a town which grew by 38 people a year over the last 5 years