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Save Pearcedale and Our Green Wedge

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The beautiful Mornington Peninsula Green Wedge is under threat from a large-scale, environmentally destructive, development near the small country town of Pearcedale. Our community desperately needs your support to stop this ...

... but the story is much bigger than that ....

Where it all began

In the 1960's, the countryside around Melbourne was deemed a vital part of the metropolitan environment. These green spaces, with their unique landscapes, natural bush, fertile agricultural land, incredible bio-diversity and significant conservation and cultural heritage were considered so valuable that they needed to be preserved and protected ... and so Melbourne's 12 Green Wedge zones were created.

Protected by legislation, these open landscapes, forests, wetlands and rural areas dotted with small townships, have flourished for decades. Providing essential green breaks between the intensive urban development corridors, Green Wedges have preserved much needed space for flora, fauna, agriculture, tourism, recreation and more.

Sixty years on, our Green Wedges are still among Victoria's greatest assets .... yet they are now being rapidly and tragically diminished by over-development and inappropriate land usage.

As protective legislation has become diluted, Green Wedge land is being re-zoned, boundaries are shifting and exemptions are granted. Much valuable wildlife habitat and agricultural land has been lost to ever-expanding housing and industrial estates. Organisations, corporations and individuals use their influence and financial advantage to override protective legislation and quash community objections .... thus planning applications are approved and the land is developed in ways that are far removed from the original Green Wedge vision.

Our vital Green Wedge zones are suffering massive fragmentation and destruction.

Our Story

One such area is Pearcedale, our small, rural town located within the Mornington Peninsula Green Wedge. Pearcedale is surrounded by open pastures, woodlands, agricultural businesses, and nature reserves. However, our beautiful natural landscape is under imminent threat from a large-scale, high impact, highly intrusive development; we desperately need your financial support to pay for strong legal representation.

A Planning Application, formerly with the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, has been referred to VCAT, seeking approval for construction of a large place of worship on the outskirts of our township. If approved, we will see the destruction of 10 acres of environmentally-classified land and the construction of a sprawling mega-structure that is over 12m (~ 40 ft) in height. The proposed development will NOT be successfully integrated into the current landscape without irrevocably compromising the character of our region, the amenity of residents and the site's biodiversity.

The site of the proposed development has significant environmental value. It is a relatively natural bush block designated Green Wedge Zone 2 and is covered by an Environmental Significance Overlay (ESO2), with three vegetation classifications: Endangered Grassy Woodland, Healthy Woodland and Swampy Woodland. The site includes valuable vegetation providing wildlife habitat and a wildlife corridor that connects surrounding areas, including the nearby Tyabb Bushland Reserve.

Native wildlife seen here includes possums, koalas, snakes, bellbirds, fairy-wrens, tawny frogmouths and powerful owls. Overhead, two nesting wedge-tailed eagles utilise this block as hunting ground.

A body of water at the lower end of the block provides habitat for a range of aquatic birds including ducks, cormorants, herons, and egrets. Spoonbills are frequent visitors to the area. Turtles, yabbies and frogs inhabit the site. Additionally, the habitat is suitable for the endangered southern toadlet (Pseudophryne semimarmorata), which has been sighted in adjoining areas. The flora and fauna within this site are remarkable, however what can be easily seen is only a fraction of the biodiversity that actually exists there.

Of special environmental significance is the site's location within the Watson Creek catchment. Intensive site activity (construction, build type and usage) will create runoff with contaminates and pollutants that will flow from this catchment zone into the Ramsar-listed Westernport Bay and the Yaringa Marine National Park, with devastating consequences to marine life and migratory birds.

A development of this scale will irreversibly change the nature of our unique and fragile landscape. It will override Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme objectives and contradict Green Wedge environmental protection policies. It will disregard Environmental Significance Overlay directives and compromise Ramsar agreements.

Yet, this is not enough to prevent the development.

How can this be happening?

Certain groups are exempt from these protective measures. In 2013, 1960's legislation was amended to allow places of worship in Green Wedge zones. Did governing bodies envision the size and scale of these developments? Did they anticipate the number of applications that would be submitted by many, diverse religious groups? Did they fully consider the negative impact of these developments upon the landscape? Concerningly, developments of this type also have the freedom to bypass certain environmental and landscape considerations. Without the restrictions that others must abide by when building in a Green Wedge, religious institutions can apply for and construct buildings that are completely inappropriate to the surrounding area. Many such approvals have already been granted, especially in the Southern Ranges Green Wedge. However, this is the first one of it's type in the Mornington Peninsula Green Wedge.

Although the Pearcedale application met with considerable community backlash and was unanimously rejected by the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, the final decision now lies with VCAT.

Approval of this development by VCAT would set a dangerous precedent and invite similar proposals for other large, inappropriate buildings and intensive land-use activities within the Mornington Peninsula Green Wedge. Developments that would destroy the landscape and severely compromise the environmental and rural amenity of the area.

It is vital that this development is rejected.

There is no requirement for this development to be constructed in a Green Wedge zone. Building usage and parking requirements would be better accommodated in an urban environment where infrastructure such as roads, sewerage and accessibility via public transport are already in place and where excessive noise and lighting will neither harm wildlife nor disrupt nearby residents and livestock.

It has to Stop

Every time an inappropriate development threatens Green Wedge land, locals and residents with little knowledge of planning laws and inadequate financial resources rally to defend our environment, our neighbourhoods, and our livelihoods. Community members donate their scant time and resources, but it is a long, arduous, upsetting and costly process - one that should not be necessary.

Furthermore, Council Planning Departments spend tens of thousands of ratepayer dollars assessing these applications - applications for developments that contradict Green Wedge planning provisions. Giving due consideration to each application is a time-consuming and costly process and, in some cases, Planning Departments are not allocated the resources they need to adequately asses every proposal. Therefore, inappropriate planning applications are approved - applications that should not have been lodged in the first place.

What are we doing?

In February 2022, the residents of Pearcedale banded together to form the Peninsula Green Wedge Protection Group, specifically created to oppose the Pearcedale planning application.

Now, more than 2 years later we are still fighting, not just for our town, not just for the Mornington Peninsula Green Wedge, but for the protection of all 12 Victorian Green Wedges.

Amendments to Green Wedge provisions would have dissuaded an application such as the Pearcedale development from being lodged. Amendments, already put forward by the Green Wedges Coalition, aim to tighten Green Wedge legislation and provide permanent protection for Melbourne's Green Wedges. However, despite years of campaigning and community pressure, concerns for the future on Melbournes's Green Wedges have not been adequately addressed and no watertight legislative changes have been made. Meanwhile, Green Wedge land across Victoria succumbs to inappropriate development.

No community should have to fight for what should already be a given. We support the Green Wedges Coalition in the fight for stronger planning controls to permanently protect all greater Melbourne Green Wedges.

We are running out of time. Implementing these amendments is vital, and urgent. Once these parcels of land are developed, they can never be returned to their natural state.

Can we fix this?

Yes, we can, with your help!

Your donation will allow us to fund legal representation and key witnesses to support our case at VCAT in September 2024. It is our only chance of preventing the Pearcedale development from coming to fruition.

Your donation will support the bigger fight of amending legislation to ensure that these areas are automatically protected from developments that compromise our environment and the character and amenity of these precious parcels of land.

Your donation will help us move forward in any way we can to save our Green Wedges so they may continue to play their vital role in nature's complex balance, for us now and for future generations.

Please donate now while there is still time to make real and positive change.

It's not just about the money!

Your donation will strengthen our collective voice and confirm that we speak as a wider community for Green Wedge protection and preservation. It will do this by:

• clearly demonstrating that the wider community supports the preservation Green Wedge zones and all they stand for;
• sending a clear message to governing bodies that the community wants legislative changes to ensure that these areas are protected for the long term;
• reminding governing bodies that this is a vital issue that need to be urgently addressed;
• warning developers that they cannot purchase Green Wedge land expecting to bypass regulations and take advantage of exemptions;
• requiring developers to seek more suitable locations for large-scale developments. Locations that will not harm our environment or rob society of natural landscape;
• encouraging local communities to persevere through the stressful process of fighting these battles;
• confirming the value our society places on our open, green spaces and our dedication to protecting crucial biodiversity, vulnerable and endangered wildlife, and rural character;
• reminding us and future generations of the importance of maintaining Australia's unique landscape.

We are truly grateful for the legislation of the 1960's that created Green Wedges and for the profoundly positive impact they have had on the way we live and interact with our environment. Legislative changes that we make now will ensure the continuation of this for many more generations. We must set an example - not leave a legacy of apathy and environmental destruction. In this way we can encourage future generations to continue the preservation of Green Wedges for their agricultural, environmental, historical, recreational, community health, and landscape value.

Collectively, we can preserve and protect these precious and irreplaceable assets. Each loss exacerbates further loss. Conversely, every small gain contributes to the greater good of our environment and our lives.

Thank you for supporting us. With your donation, we can move forward and make real and positive changes.

With love, from the Peninsula Green Wedge Protection Group

Please visit our website for more information:

You can also help by signing our Change.org petition at:

Note: All the above information has been thoroughly researched by the PGWPG team, verified by professionals and is referenced in multiple sources. This additional information can be found on the Peninsula Green Wedge Protection Group FB page and in all documentation submitted to Council and VCAT.
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Donations 

  • Anonymous
    • $30 
    • 2 d
  • Melissa Dick
    • $30 
    • 2 d
  • Paul Scrivner
    • $50 
    • 11 d
  • Sally Lehnhardt
    • $100 
    • 13 d
  • Kirstin Maurier
    • $50 
    • 15 d
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Organizer

Peninsula Green Wedge Protection Group
Organizer
Somerville VIC

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