Monday, September 30, 2013

samantha in the press

Belgrave and Lilydale train line passengers most likely to have parking trouble, RACV survey says
Lilydale Leader
by Laura Jolly
27 Sep 2013

Burger off!
The Age Good Weekend
by Stuart Rintoul
28 Sep 2013

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Friday, September 20, 2013

selby/belgrave sewerage backlog back on

It's great news to hear that construction works have resumed this month on a new reticulated sewerage system for Belgrave and Selby.

Locals will notice work crews in the area as part of the $20 million project aimed at protecting public health and the environment from the risks associated with poorly maintained septic tanks.

South East Water report they are continuing sewerage backlog works in Belgrave and Selby and hope to have the reticulated system completed within the next six to eight months. They also expect to be in a position to undertake individual property connections from early 2014.

This project will see 700 households in Belgrave and Selby connected to reticulated sewerage which is a great outcome for the local environment.

As with the Belgrave South project South East Water will hold a community information session  speak with residents and businesses about how they can connect to the new system once the connections schedule is confirmed.

South East Water has been in close communications with council over the works to ensure there's minimal construction impacts. I was impressed by their performance as part of the Belgrave South project, South East Water did not remove one single tree as part of the project and are committed to ensuring minimal environmental impacts.

So far the community is very positive about the works. There’s been a recognition of the problem of failing septic systems for a long time and, in an area which values the environment, locals are keenly aware and supportive of the environmental benefits of a sewer connection.

The environmental impacts of failing septic tanks they are immense. Polluting ground and surface water, creating native vegetation dieback and an influx of weeds, not to mention E Coli being released into our streets during storm events from septic tanks.

I'm delighted to see the works re-commence. The construction of a reticulated sewerage system in Belgrave and Selby has immense benefits for the environment and our local waterways.

If you're in the project area and would like to know more you can contact South East Water on 1800 055 465 or visit for more info.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

talking dandenong ranges issues with minister guy

localised planning statements and the bushfire management overlay

Yesterday I met with Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, to talk in the main about Localised Planning Statements and their role in protecting the Dandenong Ranges (not to mention the broader Yarra Ranges as well).

I’ve long been concerned about the ability of councils to be able to put effective measures in place that protect and enhance what’s special about their area. It was heartening to learn that the Minister is very keen and supportive to give Yarra Ranges Council the autonomy it needs in developing a Localised Planning Statement that reflects the community aspiration for Yarra Ranges. It was good to discuss and get greater understanding on comments made by the Minister in Parliament back in August.

It was also good to hear that the Minister is determined that there be a strong and weighty planning tool to offer protection to municipalities that have special characteristics and along with Yarra Ranges, Mornington Peninsula, the Bellarine and Macedon Ranges also have the ability to develop Localised Planning Statements.

Council’s strategic planners have already commenced work on the development of the Yarra Ranges Localised Planning Statement and I look forward to further discussions with the Minister once the draft has been endorsed by council. Rest assured I will continue to work with the Minister to ensure the best outcomes for the Dandenong Ranges community.

On another note I also talked to the Minister about the unintended consequences of the new Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) and how that is playing out in Yarra Ranges and specifically in the Dandenong Ranges. It was important to talk about the constraints, I have for a long time expressed concerns about the impact of the BMO which to me was legislation on the run, rather than a well considered and careful approach on how to meet the recommendations of the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission.

There were a range of issues canvassed with the Minister including community aspiration to live in bush areas and the need for more flexibility within the overlay, about building to ‘flame zone’ requirements and the consideration of bushfire shelter in place options. I also talked about the constraints of meeting the vegetation defendable space clearance zones in areas with relatively small subdivisions (the Dandenongs) and conflicts with other planning controls such as the Erosion Management and Environmental Significance Overlays. We briefly discussed the CFA role in assessing defendable space and the impact of VCAT decisions on current assessment practices and the need to see reform and clarity in this area. 

It was good to have the opportunity to speak to the Minister directly about these issues as the BMO will have enormous impacts on the ability of people to build, rebuild or renovate their properties on land covered by a BMO. I look forward to seeing work in this area to meet the recommendations of the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission but provide a sensible way forward without the unintended consequences we see at the moment.

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Thursday, September 05, 2013

samantha in the press

Clayton level crossing among city's most dangerous
Waverley Leader
by Tim Michell
3 Sep 2013

Yarra Ranges Council urges the State Government to change restrictions on bushfire risk / State urged to change rules
Lilydale Leader
by Emily Webb
3 Sep 2013

Work restarts on sewers
Free Press Leader
4 Sep 2013
Up in smoke
Mountain Views Mail
by Melissa Meehan
3 Sep 2013

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Sunday, September 01, 2013

another extinction emergency looming

Last week I attended Extinction Emergency, an event hosted by Greens Senator RichardDi Natale about the increasing biodiversity crisis happening in Victoria's backyard, in the forests of the Central Highlands.

What an inspiring group of people, from left to right:
Tim Flannery, Prof David Lindenmayer, Bob Brown,
Sarah Rees, Adam Bandt and Janet Rice.
The event saw a range of inspiring speakers talk to a packed RMIT Storey Hall about the crisis our State faunal emblem, the Leadbeater's Possum, is facing due to lack of habitat. 

Speakers also outlined a vision for the future, one that is good for jobs, good for the environment, good for climate change, good for water supply and good for biodiversity, the creation of the Great Forest National Park spanning the forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria.

Tim Flannery spoke about the extinction crisis in this country and said it was the eleventh hour for the Leadbeater's Possum, concerned that we will be the last generation to see this species alive. He went on to say that if we do act we can prevent decline of species.
Professor David Lindenmayer has been studying
the Leadbeater's Possum for over three decades.
He says we need to start rethink the management
of public assets for the public good.
for the public good

Prof David Lindenmayer, renowned expert on Leadbeater's Possum, said the plight of the possum was emblematic of the failure of government policy and legislation to protect a species and that industrial scale logging was setting the possum on a path to extinction. He talked about  the Mountain Ash forests of the Central Highlands and their carbon carrying capacity, these are the most carbon dense forests in the world (read more here).   He went on to highlight that only 1.16% of old growth Mountain Ash forest is left, whilst only 0.37% of Alpine Ash forest remains and we continue to log our water catchments explaining in detail the enormous pressure our forests are under.

He talked about the science that shows that logging makes these forests more fire prone and how critical it is to have old trees left in the forests to provide habitat for Leadbeater's Possum (among other species). He raised concerns about logging and the prescriptions that guide not only how but how much gets logged and the urgent need for them to change.

Professor Lindenmayer explained the creation of a Great Forest National Park would address the lack of habitat available to the Leadbeater's Possum as the current reserve system in place is not nearly enough to ensure the survival of the species.  Prof Lindenmayer went on to talk about the wealth of opportunities a Great Forest National Park would create. 

Next up was Bob Brown, long time campaigner and advocate for the environment, now heading up the Bob Brown Foundation, an organisation which aims to help front-line environmentalists wherever they face the imminent destruction of Australia’s wild and scenic heritage. Bob spoke of the magnificence of these forests only an hour or so from Melbourne.  He spoke with great passion about the world's tallest flowering tree, the mountain ash, and the opportunity for the Leadbeater's Possum and a Great Forest National Park if 4 million Melburnians got behind it.

Adam Bandt, Greens MP (and candidate) for Melbourne announced that the Greens were 100% behind the push to create a Great Forest National Park.

Sarah Rees, Healesville based environmentalist and Director of My Environment, spoke of how critical it was to diversify the local economy of the region.  She went on to say that MyEnvironment are in talks with the local timber industry to talk about transition plans out of the industry and into new jobs.

The Kalatha Giant walk in Toolangi is a great example of ecotourism in these magnificent forests, imagine the potential with the Great Forest National Park.  
Part of the Extinction Emergency included vox pop
interviews by Rob Gell. I talked to Rob about my concerns
about diminishing habitat for endangered species in
Yarra Ranges.

It was a great event, with these inspirational speakers highlighting a vision for the future that protects not only the environment and habitat of a range of species including threatened species like Leadbeater's Possum and the Powerful Owl, but has benefits for water supply to Melbourne and carbon storage as a way to mitigate climate change.

I encourage you to have a look at the Great Forest National Park website and start to talk to friends, family, work colleagues and politicians about the issues, it's the only way we'll ever see the change we want to see. I also encourage you to visit these magnificent forests, they are truly special places and far too precious to lose to logging.

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