More urban sprawl for Melbourne the wrong way to go
Both the Victorian Government and Victorian Opposition are mistaken in moving to allow another 24,000 hectares of urban sprawl for Melbourne.
Melbourne is becoming an obese, hardened-artery parody of its former self. Extending the Urban Growth Boundary is like a man rapidly gaining weight who thinks he can solve the problem by loosening his belt.
Expanding the Urban Growth Boundary has five strikes:
1. It allows the destruction of nearly 7,000 hectares of volcanic plains grassland, and nearly 1,000 hectares of grassy woodland. Since European settlement over 95% of Victoria’s original native grassland has been destroyed. We should be protecting the less than 5% we still have.
2. The 284,000 households projected in this expansion will, at the present rate of car possession, add another 400,000 cars to Melbourne, many of them trying to get to and from the CBD each day to work. We already have 2 million cars in Melbourne and massive traffic congestion, which urban sprawl will only worsen.
3. The cost of meeting the infrastructure needs of these new suburbs is massive, and new schools, public transport, health services and the rest come at the cost of meeting the needs of existing communities, such as providing a High School for Coburg.
4. Extending the Urban Growth Boundary represents a further breach into Melbourne’s promised Green Wedges. In 2002 Melbourne 2030 went into areas such as Epping North which had previously been set aside as Green Wedges. It promised the non-urban area outside the Urban Growth Boundary would be better protected. In 2005 the Urban Growth Boundary was again extended, removing 11,500 hectares from Green Wedges. This was said to be enough for the next 25 years. Apparently not. Green Wedges should be permanent wedges between growth corridors, not potential urban land supply that is bulldozed as soon as there is a demand for it.
5. Expanding the Urban Growth Boundary contradicts the Melbourne 2030 Plan. Melbourne 2030 was justified in the name of stopping urban sprawl. It hasn’t. Suburbs continue to march out onto the horizon. Property developers are having their cake and eating it too. We’re growing both upwards and outwards.
How serious are we really about protecting Victoria’s wonderful birds and plants and animals? Eight years ago Australia signed the Convention on Biodiversity which committed us to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, yet the rate of species decline shows no sign of slowing down.
Many of Victoria’s woodland birds, such as Thrushes, Robins, Honeyeaters and Treecreepers, are in decline. Many woodland birds are nomadic, and urban sprawl is killing off areas they need to move through. You can’t claim to care about protecting Victoria’s wildlife and allow things like this to continue.
Five years ago Melbourne’s population was increasing at 55,000 per annum. Now it is increasing at the rate of 110,000 per annum. We are on the way to five million, then six million, then seven million. In my view this will not give us a better Melbourne than the one we have now, it will give us a poorer one.
Kelvin Thomson MP
Federal Member for Wills