Tag Archives: June 2018

Saving Georgia

UPDATED (17.7.2018)

Kangaroo shot with an arrow returns home

GEORGIA the kangaroo, who was rescued last month after being shot by an arrow, has now been reunited with to her family in North Warrandyte.

Wildlife carer, Manfred Zabinskas oversaw Georgia’s rehabilitation for almost a month before returning her and her joey to their Bradleys Lane home range.

“She has other young ones here and her joey will be able to join its siblings, this is home for her, this is where she belongs,” he said.

Manfred said she coped very well during her month-long convalescence and is pleased she has made a 100 per cent recovery.

“Seeing her recover so calmly and to start eating grass and hop with reasonable composure was just a massive relief.

“It is always great to save an animal that needs care, but it seems so much more important when they have been victims of abuse and cruelty like that,” he said.

Police are still keen to hear from anyone with information that can lead to the arrest of the perpetrator.

“Someone knows how this has happened, and you will be shocked to see how often this does occur on our wildlife,” said Manfred.

Please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 if you can assist.

To learn more about Manfred’s work with wildlife to donate to his wildlife shelter: fivefreedoms.com.au

Saving Georgia

A HORRIFYING thing happened in North Warrandyte in mid-May.

A young kangaroo with a joey in her pouch was cruelly shot by an arrow, left to wander the riverbank with a target-shooting arrow lodged in her back.

The community rallied to rescue the injured roo when she was spotted in a Bradleys Lane backyard sporting her unwanted accessory.

Residents alerted local wildlife carers, and the rescue effort, coordinated by Libby Annand and Liz McNeil began.

Liz and Libby arranged for a specialist volunteer wildlife carer, Manfred Zabinskas to capture the injured animal.

After a two-hour drive from Trentham, two attempts and several hours of patient waiting, Manfred was able to administer a tranquiliser dart and take the kangaroo to the vet for surgery.

Dr James Taylor, assisted by Robyn Ireland, performed the life-saving procedure at the Box Hill Veterinary Hospital, with the vets giving their services free of charge for native animals.

“She ended up having a worse injury than we had thought, at first we thought that the arrow had just gone in under the skin,” Manfred told the Diary.

After they removed the arrow they discovered she had a deep infection and necrotic tissue and realised the arrow had been in there more than a week.

“She had to have quite substantial surgery, and the vet had to do some serious stitching work, so the wound site is quite substantial now — there is quite a bit to heal — but it will heal a lot better now that the vet has removed all of the affected tissue,” he said.

“It is almost impossible to get on top of an infection with antibiotics but if you get rid of all of the infected tissue and just prevent further infection it is a lot more successful.”

What they also discovered was that she had a little joey in her pouch.

“A little pinkie around two months old, that is very small, its eyes aren’t open and its ears aren’t up or anything yet.

“The joey couldn’t survive out of mum’s pouch, so if something happened and she didn’t make it then the joey would be lost as well,” said Manfred.

The veterinary team were also pleased the arrow did not hit anything vital, missing the spinal column and organs.

“It is good that we got her when we did so that we could save her — in many of the arrow attacks, they do die after surgery because of the nature of the wound — it would be wonderful to save her after she has gone through such a horrible experience,” Manfred said.

The kangaroo, given the name Georgia, settled in well to Manfred’s wildlife shelter, Five Freedoms Animal Rescue, spending the next two weeks receiving care and medication from Manfred and his wife, Helen.

The shelter is a labour of love for the pair.

Like all wildlife rescuers, the care of the animals is paid for out of their own pockets, including medication, tranquilisers, food, and not to mention the extensive hours that go into rehabilitation.

“I’ve been a shelter owner and operator for 30 years, we are volunteer rescuers, so I make myself available around the clock to respond to animals hit by cars.

“I used to be an engineer, but I also now operate my own commercial animal business which is my entire source of income — getting possums out of buildings, snake catching… all of the work I do is related to animal rescue work,” he said.

Helen Zabinskas added: “there is no government funding, there is no department that does it — it is all the work of volunteers”.

If the government get their way, the fate of any future injured eastern grey kangaroos could be very different.

A recent discussion paper from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) signalled  they are seeking to ban wildlife carers from rescuing eastern grey kangaroos, wombats, possums and cockatoos.

The recently released Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) system review Discussion Paper states:

“Wildlife shelters and foster carers invest significant time and resources rehabilitating sick, injured and orphaned eastern grey kangaroos.

Given that the species is overabundant in many areas and is the species that the majority of ATCWs are issued for, some members of the community have suggested that the species should not be able to be rehabilitated under the wildlife shelter system… it may also be appropriate to consider whether the rehabilitation of unprotected wildlife, such as wombats, cockatoos or possums, should be disallowed or restricted to areas where such wildlife is not over-abundant.”

Helen Zabinskas told the Diary, “It is absolutely shocking, it is going to lead to widespread animal suffering and human trauma.

“They say they want to free up shelter resource and money by stopping us rescuing and rehabilitating these animals which is pretty bloody cheeky when it is not their money.”

In a recent interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Manfred said he would face legal consequences if necessary:

“I will go to jail before I stop looking after animals that need help, and I think you’ll find there are quite a few hundred people out there who will say exactly the same thing.”

The proposed ban would be in place, even for acts of human cruelty such as this arrow attack.

And sadly, these incidents are not uncommon, even in Warrandyte.

Sergeant Stewart Henderson, Officer in Charge of Warrandyte Police Station said that there have been quite a few incidents over the last few years.

“It is hard to say at this stage whether it is kids being kids or people actually coming out to hunt them, but unfortunately it seems to be popping up,” he said.

“About three years ago we had a whole bunch of slaughtered kangaroos dumped in the dumpster at the car wash and around that time we found a beheaded kangaroo on someone’s property… I can’t understand what possesses people to be so cruel.

“Had we not been able to find her, she would have just gone around getting sicker and sicker, the joey would have kept growing and eventually the pair of them would have died from infection in a slow miserable way,” he said.

“It is illegal to hunt them and if they were caught they would be charged with cruelty to animals,” Sgt Henderson said.

Sgt Henderson said Police are looking for information on anyone hunting illegally.

“If people do see people on their property, at the time phone 000 so we can come out and speak to people and identify them, but if they have other information, if they don’t need police attendance, call Crime Stoppers, you can do it online or anonymously with information such as registration numbers,” he said.

Manfred told the Diary, “People are always astounded at how many times I do go out to these sort of incidents, I don’t think a year goes by when I am not rescuing or knowing of some kangaroos that have been shot with bows and arrows or with crossbow bolts.

“It is quite regular,” he said.

Wildlife carers have been calling for a crackdown on illegal wildlife hunting.

“There has been no work whatsoever to try to address the situation, it is pretty serious.

“Aside from the fact it is an horrific thing, it is completely illegal and horribly cruel to the animals, this was in the middle of Warrandyte.

“These kangaroos don’t move far, they are a known little family of kangaroos, they pretty much live in the backyards along Bradleys Lane and down to the river.

“This has happened in a very populated area.

“There are people that are happy to fire off arrows at wildlife, not only doing the wrong thing by attacking protected animals, but killing them in an environment where people are around all the time,” Manfred said.

In true Warrandyte form, in an open letter sent to the Diary, a resident of Bradleys Lane has given a warning to the perpetrators of this incident:

“To the big brave hunter who took to the terrifying wilds of Bradleys Lane with your bow and arrow.
You must be so proud of your heroic endeavours injuring a mother kangaroo in what I’m sure was such an even fight.
If I ever see you in my backyard with your toy hunting gear, I’ll invite my resident big buck kangaroo to sneak up on your unsuspecting arse and see who wins that battle.”

President,
Bradleys Lane Chapter of North Warrandyte Residents against Meaningless Acts of Cowardice

Manfred plans to release Georgia back with her mob in Bradleys Lane.

“She has got family there.

“There is a large male that is part of her family group, there are some younger ones, may even be other joeys of hers that were nearby.

“She has her own definite family there that she lives with and they go from yard to yard, the neighbours all love having them there and cherish having the wildlife in their backyard.

“We certainly want to get her back there.”

If you have any information regarding this or other acts of animal cruelty, contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

If anyone would like to donate to Manfred’s Five Freedoms Animal Rescue Shelter, to help offset the cost of Georgia’s care, deposits can be made to:

Five Freedoms Animal Rescue
Bank: NAB
BSB: 083-515
Account No. 8133 33160
Cheques can be posted to:
Box 575 Woodend Vic 3442

Photos by Libby Annand & Manfred Zabinskas

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Holloway to head up basketball coaching program

Warrandyte Basketball Association (WBA) has announced the appointment of Ryan Holloway to the position of Coaching Advisor.   

In a statement released by the club’s committee of management, they outlined the considerable experience Holloway brings to the role.

“Ryan has extensive experience in coaching, having coached for both Warrandyte and Park Orchards teams in the Eastern Districts Junior Basketball League (EDJBA) and for Warrandyte Venom in the Victoria Junior Basketball League (VJBL).

“His skills as a coach are highlighted by coaching many EDJBA A grade teams and VJBL Victorian Championship level teams.

“Ryan has had experience in the State program as an NITP coach and Assistant Coach with the Victorian Ivor Burge Men’s program.

“He is currently the Head Coach for the Australian Dingoes U21 team (Deaf Basketball Australia), Head Coach for a Warrandyte Venom U14 team and Assistant Coach for Australian Boomerangs.

“Ryan holds a Masters of Exercise Science and a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science, is a Level 2 NCAS Association Basketball Coach, Level 2 Referee Coach, and a Level 1A Grade Referee.”

Ryan is also currently the Vice Chairperson for Disability Sports Victoria and the Warrandyte Park Orchards Referee Branch President.

WBA has 40 EDJBA teams and 21 VJBL teams as well as four Big V Venom Teams.

The statement goes on to say the club is looking to “grow and strengthen current domestic and representative programs by supporting its volunteer coaches through the provision of developmental opportunities”.

In his new role, Ryan will be “responsible for developing and delivering a coaching program to support fundamental skills acquisition of our volunteer coaches.

“The key focus will be mentoring our Redbacks and Venom coaches and setting base expectations for skills development, quality and behaviour,” the statement says.

Having played basketball for Warrandyte Redbacks, Venom and Big V Youth League, together with his coaching experience and qualifications, the committee says they are confident that Ryan will be a great addition to the Warrandyte Basketball Association.

“We are looking forward to working with him, and the coaches of all our Venom and Redbacks teams benefiting from his contribution to our programs.”

A place to call home

There are numerous native animals that are dependent on naturally hollowed out sections of trees.

These cavities can occur within both living and dead trees, with an entrance to the outside environment where the animals can enter and exit from.

Natural hollows range in size from small cracks to large vertical hollowed out cavities similar to a chimney.

These hollows can occur in the trunk or horizontal limbs with the hollows and entrances at any height.   

Bush fire, lightning strikes or breaking branches can expose the trees to the elements and the cavities are then largely created by termites, beetle larvae and moth larvae which feed on the internal dead wood of the tree (heartwood).   

Fungus can also assist with rotting the timber and fire can further influence the enlargement of the cavities.

These cavities allow the animals to shelter and breed.

Most native trees in Greater Warrandyte are around one hundred years old and are regrowth from the last large scale mining ventures that ended around the beginning of WWI, in 1914.

Some of Warrandyte’s native animals such as gliders, phascogales, possums, parrots, ducks and owls are unable to create their own hollows.

Different animals have different nesting requirements, mainly due to their size.

Nest boxes provide an important supplement to the lack of naturally occurring hollows, in particular the larger ones.

Increasing in popularity is the creation of artificial hollows cut into the trunks of dead trees.

Throughout Melbourne I have seen a growing trend of large dead trees being trimmed of branches and cavities being cut into the upper trunk.

Most of these animals use multiple hollows and regularly change hollows.

This helps keep their hollows clean and free of parasites or disease.

It also helps them avoid predators such as owls which quickly learn which hollows are in use.

Because they rotate homes we need to provide multiple nest boxes to support each individual animal.

I aim to provide two to three nest boxes for each target animal.

Natural tree hollows provide excellent insulation against the cold/heat and last for a very long time.

It is very important to use thick timber or materials that are strong, rot/rust proof and have adequate insulation properties for animal comfort.

I use treated pine that is at least 25mm in thickness as this will begin to provide enough thermal insulation for wildlife.

I also use screws and hinges that are corrosion free and paint the interior and exterior for aesthetics and longevity.

I fasten internal ladders for both marsupials and birds.

They will also provide grip for the young animals that might struggle with climbing.

I also cut external grooves entirely around the entrances for possums to grip on.

I have studied possums exiting the nests at night and they tend to immediately climb upwards so it is important to have grip around the entirety of the entrance.

When installing the nest box I will select a location away from general disturbance and bright lights.

I like to orient the nest box on the side of larger trees and on the south side of the trunks away from the hot afternoon sun.

As most animals will use boxes at about four metres high I usually install the box using a large ladder such as an extension ladder.

Ensure the ladder is tied to the tree for safety and remember that you will want to access your box to inspect it later.

The higher the installation the further away from disturbance the animals will be.

I usually fasten the boxes using plastic coated wire.

As the growing tree trunk expands this may require adjustment over time as it gets tighter.

Spring-wire can assist with allowing the attachments to expand and require fewer adjustments over time.

Generally, you do not need to clean your box.

I will deposit fine mulch in the base for comfort and further insulation.

Most wildlife keep their nests clean.

A few species, such as the phascogale, will soil the inside of their boxes.

That is their normal behaviour.

Cleaning your boxes may stress the animal and cause the animals to temporarily desert the box.

A few small holes or gaps in the base of the box can help drain any water and keep it dry.

It may only take days or weeks before animals such as possums move in whereas others that are seasonal, such as birds, you may have results during the breeding seasons, usually in spring.

Also remember that wildlife move between hollows (and nest boxes) on a regular basis so some of the boxes will be vacant at any given time.

You will often find signs that your box has been used (feathers, scats or nest material including bark or leaves) even though the animal is not at home.

I usually incorporate folding lids that are the easiest way to check inside boxes.

Increasingly popular is the installation of cameras either inside the box or by installing an automated wildlife camera on a nearby tree.

This will monitor what comes in and out of the box.

These pictures are a sample of some of the recent success I have had with providing homes to our local animals in Warrandyte.

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Grassroots sport focus of new Nillumbik budget

At the end of June, Nillumbik will adopt their 2018/19 annual budget.

Submissions from Nillumbik residents were being accepted during the month of May.

If the draft budget is adopted, this is how it will affect the Shire’s 64,000+ residents over the next 12 months.

Rates are always at the forefront of residents’ minds and there is a proposed rate increase of 1.95 per cent.

Nillumbik’s municipal rates charge, which was previously a separate and fixed charge of $95.84 per property has been “abolished” and subsequently absorbed into the general rates charge.

The ban by China on foreign waste which has impacted many municipalities will not impact the 2018/19 budget.

There is a $0 increase in waste management charges for Nillumbik households, which is in contrast to neighbouring municipalities which have seen an increase on their waste charges of around 20%.

Both Manningham and Yarra Ranges councils have attributed this increase to the impact of not being able to on-sell recyclable waste to China.

This is good news for Nillumbik ratepayers who are already paying higher rates for their kerbside waste collection, but it is also worth noting that Nillumbik’s ability to keep waste collection rates at 2017/18 levels could be attributed to the Shire’s generous recycling policy, which allows residents to recycle plastic bags and other soft plastics such as bubble wrap and plastic wrapping from food and appliances.

At present, residents of Manningham are required to place these materials in their general waste bin.

The “Green Wedge Shire” has sport and infrastructure as key projects on their agenda for the next financial year.

$32.246M has been set aside in the 2018/19 budget for these projects, key projects within this budget include:

• Diamond Creek Netball Club Pavilion
• Eltham Central Park oval pavilion upgrade
• Research Park Sports Pavilion
• Hurstbridge Line Overpass

Some money has also been set aside in the Council coffers for the Diamond Creek Trail extension — a project which will connect the cycle trail network all the way to Hurstbridge.

These projects cannot proceed without additional income from State Government.

In April 2018, Nillumbik Council announced they had successfully lobbied the Victorian Government and secured an additional $400,000 through the Growing Suburbs Fund, which is on top of a previous grant of $800,000 from State Government.

In April, Mayor Peter Clarke said, “Nillumbik Council will now have access to this important funding stream, along with an additional $400,000 to improve facilities for the Eltham Football and Cricket Clubs.”

The granting of funds from State Government came at the eleventh hour for Council when it was considering selling 17 parcels of Council land (including a number of reserves) which was strongly protested by Nillumbik residents.

As reported in the April Diary, Cr Clarke had indicated that additional funding was required for the development of leisure and infrastructure in Nillumbik and lobbying state and federal government to help foot the bill is preferred to selling off large amounts of land.

“As a result of our lobbying efforts we are now starting to crack open funding opportunities that may result in us being able to preserve these community assets, while at the same time delivering on new and upgraded community facilities.

“Our success in securing these funding opportunities has relieved pressure on Council to have to sell all 17 sites,” he said.

Projects such as developing sports pavilions and extending the Diamond Creek Trail will still require more funding than Council has put aside.

The 2018/19 budget reports that council may have to look at land sales as a way to generate funding for future Capital Works.

48 submissions were made to Council concerning the 2018/19 budget.

Many of the submissions declared support for the $1.5M Council earmarked for land acquisition for the Diamond Creek Trail extension,

There were also many voicing anger at Council for a lack of information about funding for Yarrambat Golf Course.

The Nillumbik Council Officer responded to all submissions concerning Yarrambat Golf Course with this statement:

“Council can confirm capital works will be undertaken during the 2018-19 financial year to the Golf Course.
In addition to the works and part of the maintenance program Council will be planting 500 trees around the facility.
Council continues to review the entire capital works program on an annual basis, this process includes (but is not limited to) assessment of renewal gap requirements, compliance with statutory obligations and consideration of future needs.
Specifically, with regard to the Yarrambat Golf Course ongoing review of the facility is continuing and should urgent works arise during the year they will be considered by Council.”

In terms of major projects, with Council’s focus on developing sporting grounds and infrastructure in the more urban areas of the Shire, there is not much in it for residents in more rural areas such as North Warrandyte, Bend of Islands or Christmas Hills.

In light of the $307M political football kicked by State Government Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, which promised the Coalition would fund the duplication of the railway line between Greensborough and Eltham, Nillumbik’s $1.7M Hurstbridge Line Overpass could indicate further disruption to Warrandyte residents and Bridge users, similar to what was seen in March and April of this year during the Clifton Hill–Greensborough upgrade.

McMansion fears in Christmas Hills

MELBOURNE Water has announced it plans to sell-off 1000 hectares of land in Christmas Hills following a decision not to proceed with the Watson’s Creek Storage Reservoir.

Melbourne Water has engaged consultants, Spiire Australia to prepare a study for the land previously identified for the reservoir.

The project team called for submissions late last year and has now embarked on a period of community consultation.

During a series of information sessions held last month, Associate Planner at Spiire, Erica Fox, told attendees a decision had been made by Melbourne Water that the reservoir was no longer practical to build, therefore legislation dictated that the land must be divested from the authority’s land holdings.

The project team were frank in their advice to the meeting that some form of change is inevitable.

“There will be change in the study area, because you are going from publicly owned land that has essentially been locked up for 40 years to land that is privately owned,” Ms Fox told residents.

“To sell that land we need to ensure that it is in the appropriate zone which means it can no longer be in a Public Use Zone, something that only applies to public land and it needs to be put into what we call an underlying zone,” she said.

The divestment also frees up the privately held land that was under a Public Acquisition Overlay.

At the meeting, a number of options were presented to the community to gather feedback on the most appropriate zone to be applied to the area, and how to restructure the existing 112 lots that are currently owned by Melbourne Water.

Residents were told that 280Ha will be transferred to the Warrandyte Kinglake Nature Conservation Reserve, however the remaining 720Ha will be sold off on the open market.

“The land use study provides direction on appropriate planning controls and subdivision patterns, reflect the area’s constraints and opportunities; they will be implemented by a planning scheme amendment,” said Ms Fox.

Residents of Christmas Hills have voiced their concerns, firstly about the consultation process, but also that the sell-off will impact the character of the small rural community.

Spokesperson for the Christmas Hills Community Group, Veronica Holland, told the Diary what Melbourne Water were offering was either a “bad choice or a worse choice”.

“There has been no attempt to look at what Christmas Hills is and what it can offer the future planning of Melbourne.

“Melbourne Water has seen it as an opportunity to carve it up into smaller blocks and make money out of it.

“So we don’t agree with what they are doing, but these sessions have been designed not to include any discussion about anything other than Melbourne Water’s preferred option,” she said.

Media Manager for Melbourne Water, David Walsh told the Diary the way that it is planned to be broken up will potentially end up with between 18 and 30 new dwellings.

“It is a big area, but with the constraints, there will not be a massive amount of development taking place,” he said.

Local resident Sandy Jeffs disagrees, for the community of only 300 people another 20–30 houses is around a 20 per cent increase in the number of people living in the area.

“It is a big influx of people,” said Ms Jeffs, “people will build McMansions and try and cut the trees down and bring their horses and have their hobby farms.

“The whole character of Christmas Hills could change — it is a mix of rural and bushland, people nestled away in behind — you don’t see all the houses, and for us it is going to be a change of character,” she said.

A statement issued by Nillumbik Council to the Diary noted that any zoning decisions will be made by the State Government, it would not be a Council decision.

However, should permission to rezone be given, then further permission for any future housing would still need to be sought from Nillumbik Shire Council.

“We will continue to advocate for sensible planning outcomes consistent with land use in the area, with Council having a management role over the Rob Roy facility which should remain as Crown land,” the statement said.

“We are currently considering the various draft options by Melbourne Water as well as views of our community that have been expressed throughout the process to date.

“We will make our views known to the water authority and the community after thorough consideration,” it continued.

Last year the State Government brought in changes to the bushfire regulations which Ms Fox said have changed the requirements for land that is to be rezoned or subdivided.

“It needs to meet more stringent requirements for bushfire protection, previously we could meet BAL19 … because of the change to the legislation in late November, we now have to meet BAL12.5 which means a much larger area of defendable space is required.

“The result of this is that we have gone back and re-looked at the bushfire constraints for this area to work out the areas that no longer meet those requirements.

“So it has resulted in additional lots that won’t be able to be developed from a bushfire perspective,” said Ms Fox.

She told the meeting that many of these undevelopable lots will be marketed as “undevelopable lots” which could be suitable as offset properties, where the land will be set aside to offset land clearing in other areas.

The meeting included a round table discussion where residents could discuss the plans at a block-by-block level, establishing a preference for different zoning in each precinct, and how the various lots should be consolidated to allow the best outcomes both for the existing community and for the future development of the area in line with Green Wedge provisions.

Many options were a choice between RCZ3 or RCZ4 — either 8Ha or
40Ha blocks.

Veronica Holland believes this consultation and the subsequent internet survey treats the residents of Christmas Hills “like sheep”.

“There is no opportunity for deviating from agreement with Melbourne Water’s preferred option; no chance to object to rezoning of land to RCZ3 and the subsequent development of a small hobby farm, no chance to look at Christmas Hills as a whole,” Ms Holland said.

“At no point in the process has the vision or opportunity been looked at.

“Melbourne Water has manipulated the consultation process and almost cherry picked the planning scheme to support what they want to do, which is to maximise their financial gain.”

David Walsh says that Melbourne Water has to fit in with the Nillumbik planning scheme, “we cannot do something different through here because it was our land, it all has to comply with the planning scheme,” he said.

“People love what they have got at the moment, and what we are trying to do is make sure anything we do stays in line with the current feel of the area.”

Veronica Holland said it has been the long drawn-out decision on the dam that has forged the character of Christmas Hills in the first place.

“Ironically it is because Melbourne Water put on the Public Acquisition Overlay meant that it escaped the eagle-eye of speculative developers and people who wanted to build their McMansions… introducing hobby farms will bring people with urban expectations into the area… they will destroy the landscape and, because many of those blocks have nice views, you can see that they will attract people who want to build their McMansion to take advantage of the nice views and don’t realise that the view out destroys the view in,” she said.

“For so long it was up in the air and they hadn’t made a decision, said Sandy Jeffs, “so for us, we have been there 40 years, it has been 40 years of bliss because they hadn’t made a decision.

“It is Christmas every day here in Christmas Hills, we worry that as the roads are upgraded there are more houses more traffic more people it just brings in another level of complexity that we don’t want”.

Not all residents are pessimistic about the future of Christmas Hills, Narelle Campbell, from community group Rural Link told the Diary that she believed it would be “much better than another dam, which is what the land was bought for”.

She said the Melbourne Water proposal “appears to be balanced and reasonable and makes a genuine effort to consider the social, economic and environmental challenges”.

“We are pleased that a mix of landholding sizes and types is recommended, that rural residential lots are planned to be of suitable size for development, that the State Park allocation is progressing, and public spaces like Rob Roy, the Community Hall and tennis court are left in situ for the community.

“We will continue to work with Melbourne Water to promote the sustainability of the rural Nillumbik Green Wedge.”

Veronica Holland hopes a compromise can be reached.

“I am trusting in the Green Wedge Provisions, the planning provisions … I think it is possible that Melbourne Water can get quite a few very saleable lots without destroying the integrity of Christmas Hills as it is now.

“We want to preserve the integrity of the area — we want to preserve the idea of the scattered settlement and we don’t want to ruin the landscape value of the area, but we do want people to see it is such an asset in terms of its biodiversity and its high environmental values.”

There will be a long process before the final decisions have been made, as Erica Fox explained:

“Because Melbourne Water is a government authority, any land it seeks to sell needs to go through the Government Land Planning Service and that land service acts as an independent planning panel to assess and review the proposed Planning Scheme Amendment and the master plan we are proposing.

“It will then provide its own period of public consultation.”

She told the meeting the planning service will have a six-week submission period followed by a series of panel hearings that are anticipated to occur later this year.

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