Blog | 11th Aug, 2010

Parliament votes to bulldoze green wedges for suburban sprawl

July was crunch time for Melbourne’s green wedges when the state government and the Liberal-National opposition joined forces to rezone 43,600 ha of green wedge land for suburban sprawl.

By ratifying Planning Scheme Amendment VC68 on 29 July, the major parties blatantly betrayed the Bracks Government’s Melbourne 2030 and Green Wedge Protection policies which are fundamental for a sustainable and liveable city. They betrayed a green wedge legacy stemming back to the Hamer-Hunt Government of the 1970s and before. Only the Greens have stood by their policies and have consistently opposed the UGB expansion.

This planning disaster signifies a catastrophe for Melbourne – our city will be changed irrevocably with green wedges of rural land replaced by suburban sprawl and freeways. Unprecedented environmental, agricultural and landscape destruction will occur in the green wedges, including the loss of:

  • up to 5000 ha of nationally endangered Western Basalt Plains grasslands;
  • some grassy woodlands of the Upper Maribyrnong and Merri Creek catchments with their ancient red gums; and
  • 4000 ha of the South East food-bowl, where highly productive market gardens using recycled water double as Southern Brown Bandicoot habitat.

A recent parliamentary agribusiness report describes the green wedges as "a diverse and dynamic farming region" which produces 16 per cent of the Victoria’s agricultural wealth from less than four per cent of the state’s farmland.

The UGB expansion will also destroy the certainty on which green wedge protection is based. The developers who will profit from speculative purchases of green wedge land to be rezoned by VC68 will now go looking for more spec purchases outside the new UGB.

Yet there is sufficient land within existing growth corridors to last for 20 years or more, with moderate increases in lot density. This is the best solution for housing affordability and would save the Victorian tax-payer many $billions in infrastructure costs.

The government claims it needs the extra land to house our rapidly growing population, yet both PM Julia Gillard and Premier Brumby have acknowledged the need to re-think "Big Australia" policies. They should also have re-thought the need for this planning scheme amendment and green wedge destruction.

For comment from Green Wedges Coalition: Rosemary West, joint coordinator, 9772 7124 or 0418 554 799,; or Louis Delacretaz, vice president, 0407 358 699.