Press Releases

Stage one of Tarra Trail opens in time for festival

* * - Thursday, April 21, 2011
A new picturesque pathway and bike track from Yarram to Alberton will be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike with the opening of Tarra Trail: Stage One today, ahead of the popular Tarra Festival this weekend.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan today officially opened the newly-developed Yarram to Alberton link of the overall Tarra Trail which extends from Yarram to Port Albert.

“This trail will add to the many existing tourism attractions in the area and provide a further boost for businesses and the local economy,” Mr Ryan said.

“Tarra Trail: Stage One is a significant project as it is a future destination for the iconic Great Southern Rail Trail, which currently extends to Foster.”

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Government had provided $200 000 in funding for the trail through Regional Development Victoria, with the Wellington Shire Council providing the balance of funding for the $270,000 project.

“The community has also been actively involved in the project throughout its development and it is great to see local people getting behind a great tourism initiative like this,” Mr Ryan said.

The opening of this first stage of the Tarra Trail is great timing with the popular Tarra Festival taking place this coming Easter weekend.”

Mr Ryan said the project involved the construction of a shared trail along existing railway reserve and included re-vegetation and the installation of signage and seating.

The development has made use of local materials with the trail being constructed using the same local gravel which was used in the previously-developed Yarram Station Ground Reserve,” Mr Ryan said.

The State Government is pleased to be able to contribute to this project and we will continue to support important local initiatives like the Tarra Trail.

We are committed to working with local communities to deliver better infrastructure, greater prosperity and new opportunities in regional and rural Victoria.”

INQUIRY TO PROBE BALD HILLS PERMIT

Stephanie Ryan - Monday, March 08, 2010

Justin Madden’s failure to consult with the South Gippsland community over major changes to the Bald Hills WindGippsland South windfarm Farm should be investigated by an Upper House inquiry.

Member for Gippsland South and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said the committee should investigate the Bald Hills Wind Farm due to concerns the Planning Minister had acted inappropriately.

“Gippsland South residents deserve to know whether due process was followed when the Planning Minister granted a permit to Mitsui to make major changes to the development of the wind farm,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Committee on Finance and Public Administration should inquire into and report on the consultation and approval process surrounding the decision to determine whether it was inappropriate.”

Mr Ryan said Mr Madden’s conduct in the planning portfolio more broadly was to be scrutinised after a document leaked from his office advocated a sham public consultation on the redevelopment of Melbourne’s Windsor Hotel.

“Mr Madden has demonstrated an unwillingness to listen to the views of the public on planning projects such as the Bald Hills Wind Farm,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Minister’s decision to sign off on a 25-metre increase in the height of the turbines was ill-considered and clearly was in breach of the same rules of natural justice about which this government complained when the initial refusal to grant the permit for Bald Hills ended up in court in 2006.

“The permit was granted on the pretence that the increase does not constitute a major change, despite the fact that the turbines now require lights to ensure they meet aviation guidelines.

“Mr Madden has failed in his responsibilities as Planning Minister. He has failed to consider the views of the local community or the impact the increase will have on the environment.”

Mr Ryan said residents could present their views to the inquiry, which is due to start on March 12, by making a written submission.

“I urge anyone who wishes to make a submission to contact my office on 5144 1987 for more details,” Mr Ryan said.

COUNCIL SHOULD BE PLANNING AUTHORITY FOR WIND FARMS

Stephanie Ryan - Thursday, February 25, 2010
Planning for the Bald Hills Wind Farm should be handed over to South Gippsland Shire, according to Member for Gippsland South and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan.

The call comes after the Environment and Natural Resources Committee today tabled its report into the approval process for renewable energy projects in Victoria.

Mr Ryan said the Labor-dominated committee had recommended local government be excluded from the planning process of wind farms.

“The Brumby Government is riding roughshod over local communities,” Mr Ryan said.

“Coalition committee members tabled a dissenting report recommending local government be made the planning authority for all wind power plants.

“The interests of local communities would be better represented if local government was made the responsible authority for wind farms.”

Mr Ryan said Planning Minister Justin Madden’s decision to sign off on a 25-metre increase in the height of the turbines at the Bald Hills Wind Farm showed the government was not listening to residents and landholders.
“The changes to the Bald Hills Wind Farm prove just how arrogant and city-centric the Brumby Government has become,” Mr Ryan said.

“The turbines will now be 135 metres high or tall enough to dwarf the light towers at the MCG.

“The Minister has treated communities directly impacted by these changes, such as Foster and Fish Creek, with utter contempt. The Brumby Government cannot be trusted to make decisions based on the interests of the community.”

Committee member and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said the Brumby Government had failed to supply local government with the resources it needed to deal with wind farm developments.

“Local government needs to be given the tools and resources to ensure proper planning at a local level is carried out,” Mr Walsh said.

“The reality the Brumby Government simply does not care about the difficulties facing councils, residents and landholders when it comes to these kinds of developments.” 

RYAN DEMANDS SUPPLEMENTARY EES

Stephanie Ryan - Thursday, February 18, 2010
 The Brumby Government must undertake further studies to determine how changes at the Bald Hills Wind Farm will affect the surrounding environment, Leader of The Nationals and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said today.

Mr Ryan said Planning Minister Justin Madden had secretly signed a planning permit to increase the height of the farm’s turbines from 110 metres to 135 metres without following due process.

“Not only was this decision taken without any consultation with the local community, but the Minister also signed off on the planning permit before the proper studies were conducted.

“Alterations of this magnitude should never have been made without a supplementary environmental effects statement (EES).

“The government would have us believe that an increase of 25 metres in height is not an insignificant alteration to the project but the original panel report made its findings on the basis ‘the height to turbine zenith would not exceed 110 metres’.

“The revised specifications have rendered the original EES unsuitable and a new environmental review should now be undertaken as a matter of priority.”

Mr Ryan said the Brumby Government could not be trusted to manage the project in the interests of the community.
“The Minister has been negligent on two counts: he has failed his moral obligations to consult with and properly inform the community and he has failed to follow due process,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Brumby Government well knows that the Bald Hills Wind Farm has been trenchantly opposed by those who live in this beautiful area.

“The Minister has done everything possible to hide what he knew would be an unpopular decision from the public.

“At the very least, the Brumby Government has an obligation to make a copy of the planning permit publicly available.

“Gippslanders won’t forget the arrogant treatment they have received at the hands of this government.”

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