Community Panel – Day 2

Day 2 of the Community Panel on Saturday, 1 September began with a closed discussion about the scope of the project and identification of issues that the Panel needs to focus on.

The Community Panel had nominated speakers on Day 1 that they wanted to hear from and they all spoke to the Panel on Day 2. They included Michael Buxton, Max Parsons, Ian Penrose, Kahn Franke, Penny Croucamp and Michael Vermeulen. Observers from the community attended the various sessions throughout the day.

RMIT Professor of Environment and Planning at the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies Michael Buxton spoke about why green wedges were established and the challenges they face today in the context of strong population growth.

Max Parsons, a licensed land surveyor who has lived in the Shire for 35 years and runs an alpaca farm in the municipality, gave his perspective as a landowner. He observed that the majority of Nillumbik’s Green Wedge is privately owned so any review of the GWMP needs to reflect that and landowners must be included and engaged in the process.

The Community Panel then spent an hour asking questions of Mr Buxton and Mr Parsons.

During the afternoon session, resident and former Yarra Riverkeeper Ian Penrose discussed how the Green Wedge provides ‘breathing space’ from our urban environment and expressed how nature is important to our wellbeing.

He was followed by Kahn Franke, from The Green Wedge Coalition and Green Wedge Protection Group and CFA volunteer of 45 years, who detailed threats to Nillumbik’s Green Wedge and the community’s role in protecting it.

Penny Croucamp from the Native Vegetation Management Team at the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning gave a detailed presentation on the department’s policies and their application.

The final speaker, CFA Community Liaison Officer Michael Vermeulen, explained his role to impart information to the community about the topography relating to bushfire, the consequences of bushfire and how to protect yourself and your property.

The Community Panel then asked a variety of questions of the four afternoon speakers.

At the day’s conclusion, the Panel considered what further information they require and other speakers they wish to hear from. Council officers are pursuing these requests.

Members of the Community Panel also participated in guided bus tours of the Green Wedge on 24 and 25 August or elected to conduct their own self-drive excursion ahead of the second full-day meeting of the Panel. You can find the map they followed here.