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16 July 2010
Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett has given the go ahead for up to 75,000 new homes within Melbourne’s current growth boundary. The planned developments are spread across 28 existing precincts around Melbourne.
The approval comes as part of a strategic assessment program for Melbourne’s urban expansion.
“This is a first step in meeting Melbourne’s growing housing needs in a way that puts the environment at the forefront of the planning process,” Mr Garrett said.
“The strategic assessment allowed us to find the best possible way of protecting our biodiversity while enabling sustainable growth.
The strategic assessment, which is a process set out under the national environment law, was completed in February this year. Individual components can now be approved with minimal red tape.
“Stepping back and taking a broadscale, forward-thinking approach means the highest quality parts of the landscape are protected from the outset.
“Under the program more than 15,000 hectares of land will be set aside as reserves for critically endangered grasslands, which will boost the current two per cent of this grassland currently in reserves to 20 per cent. Up to 1200 hectares of critically endangered eucalypt woodlands will also be protected.
“Melbourne’s urban planners now have a framework that will serve them and the environment well into the future,” Mr Garrett said.
“This puts an end to the piecemeal approach and the ‘death by a thousand cuts’ that can happen when environmental concerns are an afterthought.
Last month Mr Garrett gave approval for the regional rail link that is also part of this strategic assessment program.
“The railway will service the new growth centres to the west of Melbourne in Melton and Wyndham, and allow planning of suburbs to be based around fast and efficient public transport,” he said.
“It will have big economic and social benefits for the people of Melbourne, including regional cities like Geelong and Ballarat.
“At the same time, the chosen rail route is one that will have the least impact on the environment. It avoids larger nationally protected grassland patches, and a thorough assessment has found that it is unlikely to affect nearby wetlands or migratory species.
The strategic assessment program allows for future growth plans catering for a further 284,000 new homes.
More information can be found at www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/assessments/melbourne.html