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Water: our most precious Resource

Our annual photo competition is drawing to the exciting conclusion again this Sunday (which is World Environment Day)! Come for afternoon tea, have a look at the many entries on the theme 'Water: our most precious Resource' and stay for the judging of the competition.

When: 3pm, Sunday June 5th
Where: Lerderderg Library, Main St Bacchus Marsh

Afternoon tea provided. Photos will continue to be exhibited after the judging if you want to drop by and look during the week! Pictured below is last year's winner, which would have met the requirements for this year's theme as well!
You may have noticed there is a Federal election on at the moment. We aren't about to tell you who to vote for, but the Australian Conservation Foundation have attempted to score the three major parties' environment policies. You can look at how they've rated partes here. Unfortunately they haven't rated the many smaller parties that are running, but we encourage you to look them up and check out their environment policies (if they have them!) as well before you vote.

Tree planting day with Parwan Landcare

Parwan Landcare have a big tree planting day as part of their restoration of the amazing Parwan gorge area (just east of Bacchus Marsh). Not a lot of people even know about Parwan gorge! You can get a great view of it on the day.
Here's what they are planning:
We will be extending and refilling previous tree plantings along Whelans Lane, Whelans Road and Browns Lane. Equipment will be provided. Non Landcare members are also most welcome.
When: 10am to 1pm, Sunday 19 June.
Where: Cnr Browns Lane and Whelans Lane, Parwan

For further information and RSVP please contact David Marnie on 0407 363 022 or Ruth Marnie on 0438 675 127 or email marnie1956@me.com

Upcoming Events

MEG meetings
Our regular meeting is held on the last Thursday of each month, alternating between Bacchus Marsh and Ballan. All supporters welcome to join us! Meetings usually last an hour to an hour-and-a-half.
Next meetings:
June 30: 7:30PM Lerderderg Library, 215 Main Street, Bacchus Marsh
July 28: 7:30PM Meeting room at the Commercial Hotel, 151 Inglis Street, Ballan

Friends of Werribee River Through Bacchus Marsh are getting stuck into their monthly winter tree plantings. Here's the next few events you can join in with -- all welcome! Morning tea provided.
  • Sunday June 5. 9:30am-12:30pm. At "Harry's Hole", (Peppertree Park south bank) Meikle St/Werribee Vale Rd.
  • Sunday July 3. 9:30am-12:30pm. Just upstream from Fisken St bridge along the walking path.
  • Sunday August 7. 9:30am-12:30pm. At "The Green" park on Werribee Vale Rd, 800m west from Grant St.

Image courtesy of Stop Shenhua on Twitter

No new coal: time to finish this business!

Image above courtesy of Stop Shenhua on Twitter

March 8, 2016

We've been campaigning to stop a new coal mine at Bacchus Marsh for years. Now there's a chance to see the end of this saga. We need your help: read on.

Victorian upper house MP Greg Barber recently brought to our attention that the minerals exploration licence for coal held by Mantle Mining and Exergen in the Bacchus Marsh area expires this month, as reported in local papers (see here for article).

We have met our local state MP, Don Nardella (who is supportive of our concerns) and we have written to the State Minister for Resources, Lily D'Ambrosio asking that the licence is not renewed.

Mineral exploration licences are usually given out and renewed without fuss by the department. However, we are informed that this year there will be a state government review of the issuing of coal exploration licences. Currently, we have been informed, the decision on issuing licence renewals rests with the Minister herself.

We intend to have our say in the coming review as to why we think coal exploration and new mines are no longer appropriate here. We are convinced by the evidence that climate change demands it, and that renewable energy can rapidly replace our current fossil fuel use.

We have asked Lily D'Ambrosio to put the Mantle/Exergen licence on hold – not to renew it – pending the outcome of the review.

Would you be able to write to her to express your support for our request?

Please write or email the minister:
Email: lily.d'ambrosio@parliament.vic.gov.au
Mail: Level 36, 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
or phone her office on (03) 8392 2100.

Tell her that you want the Mantle Mining/Exergen exploration licence at Bacchus Marsh not to be renewed, at least not until the outcome of the review of coal exploration licences later this year.

Why are we against this mine?

Here's some reasons not to approve this mine, or new coal mines in general. It's not an exhaustive list! Click on the links for further information.

  • To continue opening new coal mines would make it impossible to meet responsible emissions reduction targets if the world is to avoid the worst of climate change. It is time to begin moving out of coal: new mines is incompatible with this imperative. Read this by one of Australia's world-leading climate scientists:

  • The growth in renewable energy investment, with renewables now cheaper than new coal and gas energy, coupled with the imperatives of climate action, and uncertain international markets for low grade brown coal, suggest that should the coal mine get started, it may have a short economic life, leaving the locality with nothing but a big hole.

  • The recent inquiry into the Hazelwood mine fire, and news about management of coal mines interstate, reveal that rehabilitation plans and bonds are inadequate. In the relatively likely scenario that the mine is closed, there is a good chance the neighbours and taxpayers will be burdened with the cleanup.

  • Should a coalmine proceed, we are concerned at the impact on local water supplies. The area is already one of the driest in southern Victoria (as locals would be painfully aware at present), so the amount of water needed for wetting down and/or the amount of hazardous dust that may blow over the town and area are a major concern. We are concerned that dust could blow on the prevailing winds as far as Melton, Werribee and beyond, not just Bacchus Marsh.

  • Our area is now known for its horticulture and agriculture. Due to the impacts of dust, water waste, and damage to the town's reputation, we fear that permanent damage could be done to these long-term industries by a coal mine.

For further details of the coal exploration licence, including a map of the exploration licence area, see this from SourceWatch.

Submission on rezoning

11 September, 2015: MEG has made the following submission to council.

Moorabool Environment Group is opposed to rezoning land for a Bunnings store and others on Clifton Drive in Bacchus Marsh.

We note:

  1. The zoning decision is for council to make as they see fit, and can not conceivably be appealed at VCAT.

  2. Many of the residents in the immediate neighbourhood are strongly opposed on grounds of visual amenity, noise and traffic as witnessed by (most visibly) the proliferation of protest signs in front of houses.

  3. There is no pressing need for a(nother) hardware superstore in the Marsh, with a number of local businesses already filling the space, and another large Bunnings store only 13.4km down the freeway in Melton. For these reasons it's also questionable whether a new store will result in a significant net gain in employment for the Bacchus Marsh.

  4. The intersection of Clifton Drive and Gisborne Rd is one of the busiest traffic areas in the town, being on the main north-south route through town/to the town centre as well as the main on/off ramp for freeway traffic.

  5. A Bunnings store will be a major generator of traffic in its own right.

  6. This area is not just congested with road traffic but poorly serviced for cyclists and pedestrians. Lack of space on the road, heavy traffic (including truck) use, a narrow bridge over the freeway – all contribute to making this area (and many key routes in Bacchus Marsh) unfriendly to cyclists and pedestrians. A major new traffic generator/intersection would most likely make this much worse.

  7. Being halfway between the Bacchus Marsh town centre and the Darley shop(s), rezoning land here to commercial is arguably out of place. It is also distant from existing industrial zones (Maddingley, etc) which would be the other obvious space for a large store. There are good reasons (in sustainable transport planning and other views) to keep activity centres reasonably compact in towns.

Considering all these points, MEG is opposed to rezoning the land at this point. We do not have a position for or against Bunnings in particular, but reach this conclusion in relation to the need for planning more sustainable transport options.

MEG is concerned at the lack of facility for active and sustainable transport options (walking, cycling, bus) in town. We think council needs to make steps to fix these gaps in particular, before putting a new, large traffic generator in the middle of one the worst traffic-affected areas.

As the town population is growing, these transport problems are getting worse. Measures for active/sustainable transport may or may not reduce road traffic, but give a healthy alternative for those wishing to avoid the traffic jams, reduce their personal pollution, or get fit.

On the other hand, a growing town means that other businesses will be looking to set up in town, and economic growth to support the growing population is not likely to be set back by refusing this particular application.

If the rezoning is approved, MEG asks council to ensure that traffic from the development does not exit or enter via residential streets, and that alterations to the intersection with Gisborne Rd make improvements in the areas of pedestrian and cyclist access/thoroughfare and investigate options for bus priority lanes etc.

Media release: Moorabool Environment Group, 26/11/2014. For immediate release.

A survey of candidates in the new state seat of Buninyong found at least two in favour of the investment, jobs and clean energy that would be generated if the electorate's three stalled wind farm projects were completed.

Moorabool Environment Group asked the candidates if they would support a Victorian renewable energy target “to make sure that the wind industry has an ongoing role in Victoria”.

“We found that while only the Greens support this practical measure as a matter of policy, the Labor candidate Geoff Howard was also willing to commit to support such a target in parliament and in his party room,” said Ben Courtice, Moorabool Environment Group secretary.

“Sonia Smith, the Nationals candidate, was very positive about having a state target, but only focused on smaller scale projects to supply energy on the premises. This is important for solar power, but in the south of the state large-scale wind energy, not solar, is the big hitter for reducing our high greenhouse emissions.

“Buninyong could be a leading area of the state for wind energy and jobs, but not without a clear policy to see it happen.”

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews has indicated Labor may introduce a Victorian renewable energy target if the national Renewable Energy Target is removed, and a state target is Greens policy.

As yet, Liberal candidate Ben Taylor had not responded to the questions sent by the group.

Part of the controversy around wind in this election arises from the Coalition state government's harsh anti-windfarm planning laws, which the Greens have promised to repeal, and Labor are promising to significantly improve. However, already approved projects have been stalled for some time due to Federal issues.

“The wind farms approved for Moorabool have only been stalled because of uncertainty around the national Renewable Energy Target. If the incoming state government takes leadership with a state target, as Labor did in 2006, they could create several dozen ongoing, skilled jobs in the area; and hundreds of construction jobs over the years that they are being built,” Mr Courtice said.

“They would make a big impact on reducing Victoria's huge greenhouse footprint, and they would provide jobs and income to the farming communities of Moorabool.”

The three wind farms with planning approval in Buninyong are:

Lal Lal: Near Lal Lal and Yendon. 64 turbines, with a capacity of 130 megawatts (MW).

Moorabool: South of Ballan. 107 turbines, with a capacity of 321MW.

Yaloak South: East of Mt Wallace. 14 turbines with a capacity of 29MW.

See: http://yes2renewables.org/renewable-energy-in-victoria/wind-energy/

For more information, please contact Ben Courtice on 0413 580 706.