Warburton Mountain Bike Destination Project hold up
State Liberal Member for Eildon Cindy McLeish questions the unusual decision calling for an environmental effect statement (EES) to be completed on the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination (WMTBD) project, adding to development delays.
Ms McLeish said, “The WMTBD project is a real winner, but it has hit a major hurdle now that it has been directed to complete an EES, which is most unusual for a project of its size.”
The project has been in the works since 2016 when consultation over the master plan begun. Due to the EES order, project development may be delayed for another year.
It is highly unusual for such as small-scale project to complete an EES, given these are typically applied to major projects. For example, the $6.7bn West Gate Tunnel Project must complete an EES. Similarly, the Victorian government had to be lobbied, and only recently agreed, to undertake an EES for the Western Victoria Transmission Network project that proposes a high-voltage, 85-metres tall powerlines to run nearly 200 kilometres through private farming properties.
Ms McLeish continues, “How is it acceptable or efficient to make the WMTBD jump through hoops and produce an EES when the government needs to be nagged, kicking and screaming to allow an EES to be conducted on major, multi-billion-dollar projects that spread vastly across Victoria?”
“It is a ridiculous notion to place the WMTBD project in the same criteria as these government projects of huge magnitude.”
Ms McLeish wrote to the Minister for Planning in March 2020 enquiring the project development hold up. After prolonged decision making, the minister decided that an EES would be required before project development continued.
“The slow response from the Minister and now the absurd EES order has delayed the project considerably. I implore the government to work closely with the project managers to make sure that this can be expedited as quickly as possible,” Ms McLeish concludes.
The WMTBD will offer over 180 kilometres of mountain bike trail and connections, while promoting a healthy, active community. The trail will transform the Upper Yarra which for many years has struggled with lack of job opportunities. It will also increase tourism numbers in the Yarra Ranges, which is extremely important during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.