Geelong council pledges improvements, repairs
1 December 2010
Greater Geelong Council has committed $131,000 to improve environmental planning and rehabilitate rare grassland, after agreeing to an enforceable undertaking with the federal environment department.
The undertaking was made after the council was found to have carried out road works without approval in an area near Geelong, destroying almost one hectare of nationally protected natural temperate grasslands of the Victorian Volcanic Plains.
Federal environment department spokeswoman, Rose Webb, said the outcome showed the importance of obtaining federal government approval before starting any activities that could impact on nationally protected matters.
“Between December last year and April this year, council work to build a pipeline on the Geelong-Bacchus Marsh Road at Lara, led to the removal of critically endangered native grasslands,” Ms Webb said.
"The council didn’t have federal environmental approval to carry out this work and as a result of the damage will now pay $20,000 towards the Grassy Groundcover Research Project, and $44,000 towards rehabilitating the damaged area.
“Another $67,000 will fund a review of the council’s work processes and environmental planning programs, to avoid a repeat of this situation.
"While it’s regrettable that this threatened grassland was damaged, it is good news that this money can be put into the future conservation of the species. An enforceable undertaking is a good alternative to a lengthy court proceeding."
Under national environment law, a written undertaking can be agreed between the federal government and a company or agency that has breached the law. In many cases, an enforceable undertaking is preferred to court action as it allows the money to directly benefit a specific environmental and/or conservation cause.
In April, the Pyrenees Shire Council agreed to pay $155,000 towards the future rehabilitation and conservation of this ecological community and improving environmental planning after causing damage during road works in south western Victoria.