Submissions round-up

5th May 2024

It has been a busy few months with the Friends writing submissions on a range of issues.

  • The Commonwealth government’s Nature Positive laws - our submission called for robust National Environmental Standards, that climate change be explicitly nominated as a matter to be considered by the proposed Environment Protection Authority, with reference to legislated emissions targets and the international climate Agreements to which Australia is a signatory; the empowerment of the community to participate in environmental protection and a genuinely independent EPA. We were disappointed that the announced changes will not include any legislative improvements to give the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act more powers - strongly recommended in the initial report - to protect endangered and threatened species and ecosystems.

  • 485 Cooper Street Epping - the large site is sandwiched between the Hume Highway and the Merri Creek, 17km from the CBD and adjacent to the grasslands of galada tamboore. Within the site’s boundaries are pockets of Natural Temperate Grasslands and Grassy Eucalypt Woodland. This site is particularly important, as it is part of the big picture to create a Greater Merri Creek Park, a long term goal of FoMC.

    The proposed development is to build warehouses, offices, roads and a stormwater retention facility.  While the submission acknowledges the proposed restorative work along the banks of the Merri, required by Whittlesea, it objects to removal of pockets of remnant vegetation throughout the site as identified by the Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) survey.

    The submission highlights the need to save even small pockets of grassland in the fight to protect critically endangered flax lilies, sun moths and growling grass frogs.  Pockets to the north, and particularly the south, of the site could play an important role in facilitating the species return and habitat health of the greater galada tamboore ecosystem.

    FoMC urges the developers to reconfigure their building masses and roads to accommodate, and even enhance these pockets of existing ecosystems. |
    You can read our submission

  • Darebin Climate Emergency Plan 2024-2030 - we are calling for support and funding for the plan to realise its ambitions. Inclusion of the Wurundjeri in ecological restoration, recognising the existing community environmental infrastructure, and the role councils can play in waste minimisation and recycling, addressing improved efficiency and climate responsiveness in the built environment through planning and design standards and water sensitive urban design; and the development of biodiverse and robust public green spaces.

  • Proposed waste incinerator in Wollert - Cleanaway has submitted a Development Licence Application for the MERC (Melbourne Energy and Resource Centre). The feedstock will include hard or otherwise unrecyclable materials - including plastics. Merri Creek flows 1km from the site, and Curly Sedge Creek runs beside it. Plastic waste is arguably the most significant threat to improving the habitat and visual appeal of Merri Creek, its tributaries and their environs, affecting both human use of the lands along the creek and the health of the Merri Creek ecosystem. The proposal does nothing to drastically reduce the use of plastics (which should be Victoria’s goal) and perpetuates the use of fossil fuels to make more plastic while passing the costs of inaction and the destruction of existing plastics onto the community.

    More information:
    Climate Action Merri-bek      
    NO Northern Incinerator Wollert

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Image: NO Northern Incinerator Wollert

  • Somerton Intermodal Freight Terminal - a Commonwealth/State/superfund rail infrastructure project - has seen protected habitat destroyed - twice. Two Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs) and three species come under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act as Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES). A 6.470 hectare parcel was cleared in early 2023 before the Flora and Fauna Assessments for the MNES were undertaken. Three species are affected by this action - Striped Legless Lizard, Delma impar, Matted Flax-lily, Dianella amoena and the Golden Sun Moth, Synemon plana. 

Recent additional clearings are a 0.502 hectare parcel of the EPBC listed critically endangered Grassy Eucalypt Woodland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain (GEWVVP); and another of at least 1.068 hectares of potential habitat for the Striped Legless Lizard.

The Grassy Plains Network, Victorian National Parks Association and Merri Creek Management Committee have all called for:

  • the clearing to be determined a controlled action - therefore assessed and approved under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act;
  • offsetting calculations to assume the presence of Grassy Eucalypt Woodland and habitat for the 3 species across all cleared land, and offsets should be required to be within the Merri Creek catchment;
  • all projected impacts of this project to be considered now, to include their cumulative impact due to this destruction. The area in question should total 6.972 hectares of GEWVVP and 7.538 hectares of Striped Legless Lizard habitat;
  • a thorough investigation into how this occurred given the state and federal government's role in the project.

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bababi marning, Campbellfield.
Photograph: Jane Miller


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