Workshop Summary NWGGA Strategic Assessment – CoGG

Workshop Summary NWGGA Strategic Assessment – CoGG

The City of Greater Geelong (the City) held two workshops with environment and community group members in February
2023 to assist the City in preparing the Northern and Western Geelong Growth Areas (NWGGA) Strategic Assessment.
The purpose of engagement with environment groups was to:
• Provide an overview of and context for the Strategic Assessment
• Identify any key issues or priorities for environment groups in the context of the NWGGA Strategic Assessment
• Provide an understanding of the project to assist environment groups engage in the public comment process.

Some of the key issues of focus across the attendees included:
• How to manage and incentivise conservation on private land.
• Managing the Moorabool River, including the impacts of the Batesford Quarry, implications of stormwater
management in the Growth Areas, and opportunities to enhance the river corridor.
• Opportunities for biodiversity linkages in the growth areas and looking to enhance the environment during
implementation of the project.
• The shortcomings of past development projects and the implications for implementation of the NWGGA Strategic
A detailed account of the comments and questions raised by attendees is provided below:

• Questions relating to data, including:
– Will survey data collected by Ecology and Heritage Partners (EHP) be uploaded into the Victorian Biodiversity
Atlas (VBA)?
– Is the data used in the report publicly available?
• Questions / comments on the development and avoidance layout of the growth areas:
– What is the size of the buffer on the Moorabool River and Cowies Creek?
– Comment that it is positive to see some biodiversity linkages proposed in the layout, although the opportunity
for more linkages should be considered.
– Note that there is often a fixation on buffer zones to be set in stone at the minimum requirement, although this
may not provide the best outcome in the context of the site.
• Questions / comments on MNES:
– General concern at the amount of remnant Natural Temperate Grassland mapped within the growth areas.
– Noted that the survey records for Striped Legless Lizard don’t overlap with the mapped areas of Natural
Temperate Grassland.
– Noted that the only action for in-stream species was to manage stormwater, would like to see more done for
the listed aquatic species.
– The Golden Sun Moth and Striped Legless Lizard are using modified environments in the growth areas, how
will these areas be offset?

• General comments/concerns:
– What scope is there for enhancing the environment, not just avoiding and mitigating impacts?
– A number of questions and comments on the downstream section of the Moorabool River which has been
impacted by the Batesford Quarry, and the implications this has for biodiversity and landscape connectivity.
– Comment that the current state of the environment is a result of 200 years of destructive farming, what
opportunity is there to re-establish historical conditions? The traditional land management practices of the
Wadawurrung should be considered in the context.
– Concern about the implementation of major projects not providing the biodiversity outcomes they intend to.
– Do local environmental values get picked up in the Strategic Assessment Report?
– Concern about the previous outcomes of development in relation to stormwater management and the
Moorabool River.
– Noted Barwon water is looking to reuse stormwater in the precinct and comment that recycled water going into
river systems can have negative impacts on biodiversity.

• Questions / comments on the development and avoidance layout of the growth areas:
– Will there be housing on the monocline escarpment?
– Concerns about the isolated nature of reserves and implications this has for biodiversity.
– Why were biodiversity linkages not considered prior to land zoning for the growth areas?
• Questions / comments on MNES:
– Concern about why one of the Striped Legless Lizard populations has potentially been lost in the Northern
Geelong Growth Area (NGGA). What opportunity is there for further survey and investigation?
• General comments/concerns:
– It is positive to see that the NGGA conservation area has been expanded.
– A number of questions and comments regarding the southern part of the Western Geelong Growth Area
(WGGA), not included as part of the Strategic Assessment.
– Noted decisions made for this project will impact decisions made for downstream areas.
– What opportunity is there to consider enhancing the environment, not just mitigating impacts?
– Numerous comments and detailed discussion on conservation management on private land, including:
 What incentives are there for landholders?
 What the City is doing to promote good environmental outcomes on private land?
 Particular focus and discussion on managing landholders once development plans are made publicly
 Comment that while some landholders are doing good work on their land, neighbours can be negatively
impacting their environmental values which cancels out the positive actions.

– Why does public comment occur when a large part of the document drafting, and decision making is already
– Question on the process for the Strategic Assessment, why does so much of the planning relating to
biodiversity get left for the precinct planning phase?
– Noted that the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy (BCS) needs to strike a balance between providing clarity
and certainty now, and also into the future.
– A number of comments and questions on the downstream section of the Moorabool River, which has been
impacted by the Batesford Quarry, and the implications this has for biodiversity and landscape connectivity.

The engagement sessions were intended to introduce the document package to community and environment groups and
provide the opportunity for initial feedback. Where relevant to the purpose and scope of the documents for the Strategic
Assessment, the feedback provided in these sessions has been considered in updating the documents prior to public
The documents will be available to review as part of the public exhibition process later in 2023. This period will allow for
formal feedback on the documents and the City will provide responses to formal feedback received during this period.

FOTB Newsletter – April 2023

FOTB Newsletter – April 2023

The FOTB April 2023 Newsletter has recently been circulated to our members and can now be accessed here.  

The newsletter covers:

Chair’s Message

Summary and Minutes of our AGM – 22nd February

New Friends of the Barwon Website

Clean Ocean Foundation Webinar: Pollute or Recycle

Have your say on Murrk Ngubitj Yarram Yaluk (former Bellarine Basin)

Floods inquiry probes readiness and response

Lake Connewarre Wetlands Restoration Events

Pesticide Watch – call for Volunteers

Ramsar Wetlands Survey

Bellarine Environment Centre: Request for Assistance


Opportunities to get more involved with Friends of the Barwon

FOTB Contacts

Minutes of the AGM 22nd February 2023

Minutes of the AGM 22nd February 2023

Location: Jeff Sykes Rowing Centre, South Geelong.

Friends of the Barwon Chair, Trevor Hodson, welcomed everyone and expressed his Acknowledgement of Country – “I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we meet, the Wadawurrung here in Geelong and also the Eastern Maar to the west – I pay my respect to their elders – past, present and future. I particularly welcome Brodie Hamilton from the Eastern Maar and make an apology on behalf of Greg Robinson and Corrina Eccles of the Wadawurrung, who could not be with us”.

Our Purpose: Briefly stated, is to have a “healthy, flowing and life sustaining Barwon River system which is valued by all the community”.

Present: Geoff Bell, Jane Bartier, Colin Bridges, Sarah Brien, Will Buchanan, Libby Coker, Ian Court, Mary Dracup, Ewen McMillan, Ian Farran, Gavin Gamble, Gill Gartlan, Janet and Lach Gordon, Trent Griffiths, Brodie Hamilton, Liz Hamilton, Trevor and Ros Hodson, Stewart Mathison, Ewen McMillan, Andrea Montgomery, Craig Morley, John Nolan, John Riddiford, Tracey Slatter, Hugh Stewart, Sue Walpole.

Apologies: Jacinta Burke, Brigid Creasey, Cr. Brett Cunningham, Corrina Eccles, Sarah Henderson, Anne Howard, Cr. Des Hudson, Laura Kendall, Evan King, Peter McCracken, Bronwyn Merritt, Jenny Morgan, Mayor Liz Pattison, Chris Potter, Richard Reardon MP, Greg Robertson, Kaye Rodden, Helen Schonfelder, Harriet Shing MP, Kate Simpson, Heather Wellington, David Phillips, Colac Otway Shire meant Councillors.

Minutes: minutes of previous meeting confirmed moved Lach Gordon seconded Trevor Hodson.

Financial Report: Presented by Hugh Stewart (see Attachment 2)

Approved – moved Trevor Hodson, seconded Stewart Mathison.

Election of committee:

Chair: Trevor Hodson nominated by Lach Gordon

Deputy Chair: Sarah Brien nominated by Trevor Hodson

Secretary: no nominees

Treasurer: Hugh Stewart nominated by Stewart Mathison

Committee members: (returning) Andrea Montgomery, Sarah Brien, Lach Gordon, Peter McCracken and (new) Mary Dracup, Trent Griffiths, Ewen McMillan.

All above positions were approved by members and uncontested.


Some changes to FOTB’s Model rules were tabled, discussed and approved by Trevor and seconded by Hugh (see Attachment 1). The changes relate to:

  1. addition of clauses as recommended by the Register of Environmental Organisations for our application for DGR status.
  2. additional breakdown of member and sponsor categories.

Meeting closed: 6.45 pm

Guest Speaker: Tracey Slatter, Managing Director, Barwon Water gave a presentation focussed on the Urban Water Strategy/Water for our Future. Tracey gave us a window into the innovative thinking and the way her organisation is listening to and engaging with the community to ensure our water supply is secure for years to come. There were ideas like the North Western Geelong Growth Area (NWGGA) which, through use of integrated water management principles, could become an exporter of water rather than an importer. Another was the potential for waste water instead of drinking water to be used for the manufacture of hydrogen to power heavy duty vehicles and the by-product oxygen to be used to increase the efficiency of treating our waste. Tracey outlined the steps so far to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions and indicated ahead of time emissions now have fallen to one-third of those when the work started.

Chair’s report: Trevor Hodson

  • Membership and Renewal of Committee

Our membership now exceeds 120 and we have over a thousand followers on social media. Later, we will ask you to look at changes in our membership categories that will allow for a new category – sponsors, as well as allow affiliates that share similar goals to our own to become part of our organisation.

Outgoing Committee Members – Kaye Rodden, Stewart Mathison and Phillip Bade have advised they will be not continuing. Each in their own way has made a significant contribution and they will be missed. Kaye especially needs thanks for being our inaugural President and for reminding us to keep the facts foremost in all our representations.

In light of this I would ask everyone here to be mindful of what they can contribute – all too often much is expected of a few but if you have a skill set that can be of use – stand up for a place on the Committee or speak with Liz if you are interested in helping but don’t want to serve on the Committee.

We are redesigning our website to make it more user friendly. People wanting to join or renew membership will find it easier. Also, whilst on the issue of social media our Facebook page will keep you up to date between Newsletters. One can also make donations on the website and whilst we are currently pursuing our own DGR application, tax-deductible donations can be made to the Friends through Landcare Victoria.

  • Achievements

Trevor Hodson provided a good summary of our many achievements during the last 12 months:

  1. Significant Landscape Overlays (SLO’s) – Shortly before Christmas the Government gazetted a number of SLO’s included in Planning Scheme Amendment VC201 that were in line with previous measures advised for the Yarra River. These measures, in combination with other changes to the Planning Policy Framework updating both Regional and State Planning Guidelines, afford greater protection for the Barwon River and all its tributaries from inappropriate development. This includes addressing issues such as the siting and design of buildings and fences, the removal of vegetation and the undertaking of earthworks. Councils will now have to include these amendments in addition to existing overlays such as those for Cultural Heritage, Flood, Environmental and Vegetation. We asked for this measure when we made our submissions to the Barwon River Ministerial Advisory Committee and it was followed up by the Concerned Waterways Alliance. It is a great step forward.
  2. Wettenhall Environment Foundation – We were awarded a grant of $30,000 that allowed employment of our Executive Officer – Liz Hamilton.
  3. Barwon Water Sponsorship – this has facilitated our long-term security by offering a sponsorship of $15,000 annually for six years. This is an untied offer and makes our future more certain.
  4. Engagement with State election candidates – possibly swung the balance with the SLO’s A follow up meeting is planned with Michaela Settle.
  5. Meetings with Wadawurrung and Eastern Maar traditional owners to discuss areas of mutual interest and collaboration.
  6. Results of the Platypus eDNA studies showed pleasing numbers of platypus in the Yarrowee, Leigh and middle Barwon. The study results can be accessed on our website. We are hoping there will be some value adding to this project and that the samples may be analysed to look for various native fish species including the Blackfish.
  7. Resolution of diversion in western branch of Barwon at Boundary Road, Forrest. This followed from concerns of number of landowners on the Gerangamete floodplains whose land became inundated after a sump upstream of the bridge on Boundary Road broke down. It was noted prior to action being taken, flows measured at the West Barwon reservoir and a gauge in the western branch of the Barwon below the bridge showed a reversal of the normal pattern of higher flows downstream than upstream when the diversion became manifest. In late December, the downstream gauge showed a complete loss of flow in the branch despite water flowing upstream. Pictures of the dry river bed spurred overdue action and within days of receiving a consultant’s report the defect in the sump, producing the diversion and flooding, was sealed. It is interesting to note a report by Alluvium in 2020 suggested problems in this stretch of the western branch but priority was given to works in the eastern branch.
  8. Submissions to Councils re: Planning Applications – De Goldis Road at Fyansford, River Drive at Teesdale and follow up of remediation works at Motor Cycle Facility at Fyansford, Domestic Wastewater Management Guidelines for Golden Plains Shire.
  9. Support for “Save the Karaaf” Group. This group is concerned by the impact of stormwater coming off the various estates in Torquay that is changing the character of these once saline wetlands to the detriment of the flora and fauna of this area. It is hoped they will be added to the existing Ramsar sites in the area.
  10. Liaison with the Friends of the Anglesea River who have concerns about the potential impact of using the Anglesea Borefield as a source of water for Geelong in the same way the Gerangamete Borefield was used in the Millennium Drought with serious consequences for the Boundary Creek.
  11. Engagement with CCMA and Barwon Water – We are involved in various Community Reference Groups – Kitjarrdja-bul Bullarto Langi-ut (Place of Many stories), Porronggitj Karrong (Place of the Brolga), Community Advisory Committee, Environmental Advisory Committee and Seasonal Watering Advisory CRG’s for upper and lower Barwon.
  12. Foundation members of the Concerned Waterways Alliance and through them, contributors to the Central and Gippsland Sustainable Waterways Strategy, (SWS), which ultimately led to increased environmental water allocations for the Barwon and Moorabool, though not enough, and to the new SLO’s.
  13. Concerns raised with Southern Rural Water regarding its mail out to licence holders on behalf of a pastoral company looking to gain water allocations from the Barwon.
  • The Future

Any organisation is only as good as its members. Since our beginnings, four years ago at the Provenance Winery, we have made a name for ourselves as being defenders of the river. We must use our position to continue in this vein.

We must continue to be vigilant. One outcome of the SWS has been the mapping of farm dams on the Moorabool and Leigh Rivers. For years there have been many unlicenced dams built on properties neighbouring these waterways. They severely impact flows in them and the resident species, like Platypus and Short-finned eels. Without appropriate flow, biodiversity is at risk. We owe a big thank you to People for a Living Moorabool (PALM) and the efforts of Cameron Steele for this.

Another matter we must continue to push is how we can encourage the use of all our waste water from sewerage treatment plans. It is not sufficient to just use 20% of this resource, we must use all of it. It is not an easy process to change perceptions about recycled or perhaps better expressed purified water but it is a conversation we have to have. It was specifically dismissed in the SWS. The area covered by the SWS will need an additional 120 Gigalitres over the next ten years or the equivalent of a desalination plant the size of the one built at Wonthaggi. Each of Melbourne Water’s Treatment Plants discharge to sea similar amounts of waste water each year and our own Black Rock Plant discharges about 30 Gigalitres annually or enough for the predicted growth in demand in Geelong for the next decade and beyond. There are potential issues with unwanted forever chemicals, but these can be managed by treating the residual biosolids at high temperatures to produce biochar that has a role in agriculture and possibly in the production of batteries for the future. Interestingly, tonight the Clean Oceans Foundation is holding a public meeting to discuss this very issue of engaging the public to accept the idea that recycled water should be an element of our future water supply.

Thank you, Trevor.

Attachment 1. Proposed changes to FOTB’s Model Rules 2023

Membership Changes:

These changes are required to Clause 15 Associate members and Clause 14 (2) and will not require renumbering of the rest of the document. The suggested revised wording is as follows

15. Associate members:

(1) Associate members of the Association may include –
(a) any members under the age of 15 years – no voting rights will be accorded.
(b) Group membership – to include not-for-profit groups who support the aims of the Association – up to five
individuals may be nominated by the group, and each would be accorded voting rights as per an Ordinary
Member. An annual fee will be determined at the Annual General Meeting.
(c) Corporate Membership – to include for-profit organisations who support the aims of the Association – no
voting rights will be accorded. An annual fee will be determined at the Annual General Meeting.
(d) Affiliate Membership – to include like-minded Friends and other groups working in the Barwon catchment to
affiliate with the Association and to share logos and resources. Affiliate membership will be at the discretion
of the Committee upon receipt of a request from a group wishing to affiliate. No annual fee will apply and no
voting rights would be accorded.
(e) Corporate or Agency Sponsor – for organisations or agencies wishing to sponsor the Association either by
annual payment, or for the purposes of underwriting a special event, to further the purpose of the

No voting rights would be accorded but any sponsor would enjoy negotiated entitlements including, but not
necessarily limited to, display of their logo and acknowledgement of their sponsorship on the Association’s
website, in the Newsletter and at meetings and events hosted by the Association. The logo will be withdrawn
at the end of the sponsorship period.
(2) An associate member’s rights not covered in the above, will be determined by the Committee or by resolution
at a general meeting. “

We also revised Clause 14 (2) to read –

“A member is entitled to vote if – 

(a). A member is a member or an eligible associate member as determined in Clause 15….”.

Additional clauses to be included in the Model Rules under Part 2; Powers of Association, Clause 7: Establishment of a Public Fund, under Clauses:

14. The Fund must not pay any of its profits of financial surplus, or give any of its property, to its member, beneficiaries, controllers or owners (as appropriate).

15. The Fund must have a policy of not acting as a mere conduit for the the donation of money or property to other organisations, bodies or persons.

Attachment 2. Friends of the Barwon Financial Report 1/7/2021 – 30/6/2022.

AGM Financial report 2021-22 FY
Summary of our recent Annual General Meeting

Summary of our recent Annual General Meeting

Members and guests of Friends of the Barwon (FOTB) met on Wednesday 22 February in the Jeff Sykes Rowing Shed on the banks of the Barwon in Geelong. It was a very apt venue for our Annual General Meeting (AGM) given the views of the river from the meeting room. Our meeting was rescheduled from last year because of the flooding of the river at the time. 

After an acknowledgement of country and receipt of the apologies, the minutes of our last AGM were accepted. Our President, Trevor Hodson, gave his address and summary of what was achieved in the last year. A copy of Trevor’s talk is on our FOTB website. Significant achievements included:

  • the grant from the Wettenhall Environment Trust that allowed the employment of our Executive Officer, Liz Hamilton
  • an untied sponsorship agreement with Barwon Water for the next six years
  • the gazetting of Significant Landscape Overlays (SLO’S) by the State government before Christmas. These SLO’s will afford a greater measure of security and protection for the Barwon which was one our original goals when we participated in the Barwon Ministerial Advisory Committee deliberations four years ago. Much effort has been undertaken by our committee and other FOTB members over recent years to help achieve this outcome.

Thanks to the grant from the Wettenhall Environment Trust, sponsorship from Barwon Water as well as our membership, we are in good financial shape. We hope to have independent DGR status soon to allow for tax-deductible contributions to our Special Purpose Fund. Thanks to Hugh Stewart for all his good work.

Next we had the election of Office Bearers and a call for Committee Members. All positions were filled. Three long-standing Committee Members retired from their positions. These were Kaye Rodden, our first President, Stewart Mathison, Secretary and Phil Bade. We are grateful for their service.

Some changes were sought in our membership categories, to allow for Group, Corporate, Affiliate and Corporate or Agency Sponsors. Each groups’ rights are defined and will now be incorporated in our Model Rules after being voted for in favour. Some minor changes were also required to comply with requirements necessary for gaining DGR status. These too were voted for in favour.

Our guest speaker was Tracey Slatter, MD of Barwon Water. Tracey gave us a window into the innovative thinking and the way her organisation is listening to and engaging with the community to ensure our water supply is secure for years to come. There were ideas like the North Western Geelong Growth Area (NWGGA) which, through use of integrated water management principles, could become an exporter of water rather than an importer. Another was the potential for waste water instead of drinking water to be used for the manufacture of hydrogen to power heavy duty vehicles and the by-product oxygen to be used to increase the efficiency of treating our waste. Tracey outlined the steps so far to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions and indicated ahead of time emissions now have fallen to one-third of those when the work started. It was inspiring in many ways to hear her message.

After the meeting, those present enjoyed refreshments and the opportunity to mingle with our speaker and other guests. It was a great night.

 Over thirty members and friends joined our AGM including Libby Coker MP, member for Corangamite, various councillors from the Surf Coast Shire and Golden Plains Shire and representatives of Barwon Water and the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority. Unfortunately, a clash with a meeting of the Colac Otway Shire meant Councillors from COS could not attend. Twenty apologies were received.

AGM attendees 2023
Post AGM drinks
At Last!  – Some Protection for our Local Rivers

At Last!  – Some Protection for our Local Rivers

Barwon River between Inverleigh and Murghebuloc

By Lach Gordon

Friends of the Barwon welcomes the Victorian Government announcement of new interim planning controls for our rivers.

The Announcement

In late December 2022 DELWP advised the gazetting of Planning Scheme Amendment VC201. The amendment delivers stronger planning policies and landscape controls to protect the Rivers of the Barwon, Waterways of the West and all rivers and creeks across Victoria. The amendment responds to short term planning actions associated with the Victorian government Rivers of the Barwon Action plan and Waterways of the West Action plan.

How did it happen?

Protection of the riparian zone of our local waterways was a primary aim of our group at our launch in 1998.

The passing of the Yarra River Act (December 2017), followed by permanent planning controls for the entire Yarra River in June 2020, demonstrated that community led advocacy could deliver protection for urbanised waterways.

We recognised the risks from inappropriate development and emphasised these in a discussion paper ‘Protecting and Restoring the Rivers of the Barwon System (2019)’ developed in conjunction with Environmental Justice Australia and delivered to the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) established by then Minister for Police and Water, Lisa Neville.

The Rivers of the Barwon Action Plan was finalised by the MAC in December 2021.

Over the last few years many inappropriate riparian development proposals have come to our attention and we have opposed them, sometimes successfully.

It’s no secret that land developed on waterways attracts a premium sale price around 30% higher than other land nearby – essentially a windfall profit. Constant attempts of developers to reduce lot sizes (sometimes unsewered), remove riparian vegetation and increase water extraction prompted FOTB to request (unsuccessfully) the then Planning Minister, Richard Wynne for a Moratorium on Development (February 2021).

In November 2022, the Government announced that new planning controls would apply to the Yarra River, and twelve key rivers and creeks in Melbourne (including the Maribyrnong), but this excluded the Werribee River.

The Werribee Riverkeeper organization was then able to convince the government that it should be included in the new controls.

Once this had taken place FOTB jumped to action because the Waterways of the West action plan and the Barwon action plan were developed contemporaneously under Water Minister, Lisa Neville. We moved rapidly to brief local politicians and parliamentarians that the Rivers of the Barwon should not be excluded from the amended planning controls.

Finally, the Concerned Waterways Alliance requested that these controls be applied to all Victorian rivers, and this concerted action from many groups has now resulted in gazetting of the new amendment.

A Word of Caution

The new controls apply only until 2026 and will need our support.

Nevertheless, it is a good start, and provides leverage for Shires and City Councils to reject voracious riparian development.

FOTB will be informing local governments on their obligations to comply with the new controls.

Photo: Barwon River between Inverleigh and Murgheboluc