News

C117: Amendment to planning scheme open for submission

MANNINGHAM COUNCIL are currently requesting feedback regarding amendments to the Council’s planning scheme, the amendment is more commonly known as C117.

The amendment to the planning scheme is focused on land in the Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ) which is located predominantly in the Green Wedge.

The RCZ comprises of the undeveloped/rural areas around Warrandyte, South Warrandyte and Wonga Park and extends south to the borders of Donvale and Park Orchards.

Its northern border follows the Yarra River.

Given recent development projects within the Green Wedge have been fought by community groups on both sides of the river and that two of these projects; 2 Pigeon Bank Road and Brumbys Road Development have been “lost” by the developer at VCAT, some would say there is an unwanted culture of development growing within the Green Wedge and any amendments to planning schemes to aid planning applications is bad.

Doug Seymour of the Warrandyte Community Association has already indicated to the Diary that the group are putting together a submission against the proposed amendment.

Jill Colson, Executive manager, People and Governance, spoke to the Diary to clarify what C117 is and how it will impact the RCZ.

“As a Council, our role is to balance competing interests between land use for rural residential living against economic opportunities and employment.

“Known as Amendment C117, these proposed changes include providing an overarching guide on appropriate types of land use and development for the area.

“It also looks at changing an existing local policy relating to outbuildings (such as sheds) and built-form (such as size, scale and location) as well as providing more guidance for non-residential land use in the Rural Conservation Zone.

“At the same time Council is considering a new set of criteria to guide its assessment for changes to the Planning Scheme.

“This would allow consideration of currently prohibited uses where they might be consistent with overall objectives for the area.

“Examples of currently prohibited uses include cellar doors, boutique breweries, farm gates and produce stores, as well as event and function centres,” she said.

Submissions for C117 close on Monday April 16.

The amendment can be viewed online on the Manningham YourSay website, at Manningham City Council or at Warrandyte Library.

If you would like to have your voice heard regarding this amendment, you have until Monday to do so.

The Diary will continue to monitor Amendment C117’s progress and will have an update in coming editions.

 

Planned burns scheduled for March 29 – POSTPONED

UPDATE (28/3 15:24): Planned burns have been postponed due to too much moisture in the soil.

Burns may go ahead on April 3 instead.

 

Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) has scheduled two planned burns near North Warrandyte and Eltham tomorrow, March 29.

There will be a 5.5 hectare burn near Laughing Waters Road and a 15.5 hectare burn near Overbank Road.

FFMVic Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Dan White said: “These burns are an important part of our planned burn program and will reduce fuel loads in the area.

“Smoke may be visible in Eltham, North Warrandyte, Templestowe and Warrandyte.

“We aim to reduce the impact of smoke on communities from planned burning and continue to invest in new technologies and systems to help us better understand the dispersion of smoke.”

Clearning, slashing and planned burns are an important part of managing fuel and reducing the risk of bushfire to communities in bushfire zones.

But, as Mr White explains, weather is an important factor when authorities are preparing for a planned burn.

“We work closely with the Bureau of Meteorology to assess weather conditions – such as humidity, temperature and wind speed — and will only carry out burns when conditions are suitable.

“Until the recent rainfall it had been too dry to conduct these burns,” he said.

If the weather conditions remain favourable, the planned burns will commence around 10am Thursday morning, but if the conditions change the planned burns could be postponed or cancelled.

The Diary will stay across this and provide an update if anything changes.

Warrandyte Bridge closure POSTPONED

URGENT UPDATE

The Diary has just been informed that the schedule weekend closure of the Warrandyte Bridge IS NOT going ahead.

In an email sent to the VicRoads project team and the emergency services, VEC, the engineering team have requested more time to prepare the beams which they were going to installed this weekend:

Hi all

The planned closure of the Warrandyte Bridge this weekend has been postponed.The works and closure of Warrandyte Bridge to install beams will not go ahead as originally planned from 10pm Friday 23rd March – 5am Monday 26th March. We will advise of the rescheduled date for the closure asap.

VEC Civil Engineering, the contractor, has requested more time to prepare to install the beams which VicRoads has granted.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

The Diary has spoken to VicRoads media who cannot, at this time, confirm if any work is going ahead this weekend.

VicRoads are yet to set a new date for the full bridge closure, but the Diary will keep you informed on any further developments.

Saturday’s Festival program cancelled

Due to the SEVERE Fire Danger rating and a Total Fire Ban in place, the SATURDAY program for the Warrandyte Festival has been cancelled.

The Warrandyte Festival Committee have released the following statement.

It is with regret that the Warrandyte Festival Committee has decided, in accordance with our Cancellation Policy, to cancel all festival activities and performances for Saturday 17th March.

This decision was made in consultation with the CFA, Victoria Police, the SES and Manningham Council.

Prior to this decision, the Victorian Education Department had already issued a directive prohibiting local government schools from participating on the Saturday.

Our decision is not taken lightly, but community safety is our priority.

All Friday evening and Sunday activities and performances will proceed as per the published programme.

Thank you for your understanding, and please stay safe.

The Warrandyte Diary is across all Warrandyte Festival updates and will post here and on our Facebook page if there are any further changes to this plan.

Information on the current and Fire Danger ratings and when and where Total Fire Bans are in place can be found here.

More power problems plague Warrandyte

ELECTRICITY consumers in Warrandyte and North Warrandyte have experienced a number of planned and unplanned power outages in the last three months with further planned outages still to come.

Urgent work on critical pole

A spokesman from AusNet Services spokesman Hugo Armstrong has advised the Diary that a wooden power pole in the RSL grounds to the southwest of the bridge roundabout is riddled with termites and has to be replaced as a matter of urgency.

This pole carries 22kV High Voltage (HV) 3-wire cables east and west along Yarra Street and also joins the newly-installed bundled HV electrical cable which spans the river and carries power up Kangaroo Ground Road and to adjoining residential properties.

The work has been scheduled during the day on Tuesday March 20 and a power outage will affect the approximately 500 residents and businesses who were also without power on January 19 and 20 for the bridge works.

This work will be done by AusNet subcontractors.

AusNet advise that they will do their best to keep power on for the businesses in Yarra Street served by this cable, either by means of generators or by reconfiguration.

This job will be particularly tricky as the pole is in a difficult place for access, and while it is intended to keep Yarra Street open there will be complex traffic management issues and traffic delays are expected on March 20.

Further work in relation to bridge widening

To complicate matters further, as a completely separate issue the bridge contractors need further work to be done on the HV cable crossing the river and associated poles.

As a result, the same consumers will have two further daytime planned outages.

That work will be done by licensed electrical subcontractors to VicRoads.

AusNet are insisting that this latter work not be done in March but be spaced out to give long-suffering consumers some breathing space.

All affected customers will be notified in advance of these planned outages.

AusNet have asked the Diary to convey their sincere apologies to the affected customers and emphasise that they are well aware of the inconvenience caused and are doing their very best to minimise disruptions.

Later work

We announced in the May 2017 issue that the Victorian Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Program was completed and this had replaced 3-wire HV powerlines in North Warrandyte areas with bundled cable to reduce bushfire risks.

However, this work did not extend to replacing existing old bundled cable such as that spanning the river.

The works on January 19 and 20 replaced the old bundled cable across the river for about 5 poles up to Castle Road, but we believe that the old cable continues on past that point.

We have come across a statement from AusNet regarding the North Warrandyte power supply: “AusNet Services will replace the remaining sections of HV aerial bundled cable along this line in the coming months.

“No dates have been set as yet, but we will advise affected residents well in advance.”

Recent outages

AusNet Services released a bulletin dated January 18 entitled “Update on North Warrandyte Power Supply” which was sent by text message to all those North Warrandyte residents who had experienced recent power outages and who had a mobile phone number notified to their electricity retailer.

The bulletin lists the causes of unplanned power problems in the previous six weeks including:

  • On December 9, a tree brought down overhead powerlines, which caused an extended fault and required tree clearers, traffic control and construction crews to rectify.
  • On January 6, a 40 degree, extreme fire danger day, there was a burnt out HV overhead cable fault near the bridge, which caused a ‘flashover’ along the overhead wire.
  • On January 11, a possum came into contact with an HV switch on Bradleys Lane, causing an outage, and as a result, the switch configuration has now been modified to prevent further possum incidents.

Additionally, on January 19 and 20 an overnight scheduled outage enabled replacement and rerouting of the HV cable across the river.

The bulletin concludes: “We are optimistic that both the reliability and safety of this part of the community have been enhanced, and you will experience better reliability in the future.”

On March 7, another possum incident caused further unplanned outages.

Mr Armstrong told the Diary “Following the possum incident on January 11 we had hoped that the modifications to the switchgear would prevent further similar incidents.

“Unfortunately, the possums had other ideas and we are now researching further solutions in attempt to minimise possum problems”.

One resident in Aton Street claims to have had a power outage every day between January 4 and 19 and has made a formal complaint to the Ombudsman.

Unplanned outages and compensation

One of the benefits of the Victorian Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Program completed last year was touted as being that it would improve reliability, a claim which residents are continuing to doubt.

Community frustration is growing at the continuing number of unplanned “recloser trips” being experienced almost on a weekly basis.

The recloser trip is a safety mechanism that cuts power to a localised area when there is an overload or abnormality (such as caused by possum activity) and then attempts to restore power a few seconds later.

This generally causes desktop computers and modems to reboot and causes clocks on microwaves or ovens to flash until reset.

AusNet Services are obliged to comply with a complex list of Guaranteed Service Levels (GSL) which provide for compensation if unplanned outages exceed certain targets in any calendar year.

There is no inclusion of planned outages in the GSL targets, that is those interruptions which have been notified to the consumer in advance, nor any provision for compensation for same, although sometimes ex-gratia payments are made.

The compensation starts at $30 if there are more than 24 momentary interruptions in a year, and $40 for more than 36 momentary interruptions.

Unfortunately, AusNet Services do not provide online access to the service interruption records for any property, and although details can be requested it takes a few days for a response.

The compliance with GSL targets for each residence is evaluated in February each year, and compensation payments where due are advised to the customer’s retailer in March and a credit allowed on the next bill.

However, the point at which the compensation starts is set so high that payments are — relatively speaking — rarely made, and the compensation of $30 or $40 feels like a drop in the ocean when compared with the $400+ fee per year that consumers are being charged for “service to property” before they have even started to consume any electricity.