On behalf of Friends of the Barwon (FOTB), I recently made a submission to the City of Greater Geelong regarding their draft Strategic Plan for the North and West Geelong Growth Areas (NWGGA). Although the Barwon River is not part of the current Geelong Strategic Assessment, a portion of the Moorabool River (a major tributary of the Barwon), is. The following summarises FOTB’s main areas of concern:

 * Not enough attention has been given to ensure adequate areas of land have been set aside for the conservation of Vulnerable, Threatened or Endangered flora and fauna listed in the EPBC or in the FFG Act.

* FOTB believe that it is inappropriate to delay the decision about how much land should be set aside for conservation until individual Precinct Structure Plans are prepared at the time the package of land will be developed.

* We strongly believe that more attention needs to be given to ensuring there are sufficient riparian zones, of up to 200 metres, to allow for the development of new bio-links and the enhancement of existing bio-links.

* Fragmentation of landscape and interruption to flows in streams have a detrimental effect on maintaining biodiversity. A lack of connectivity in streams impacts adversely on migratory species like the Short-finned Eel and the Australian Grayling.

* FOTB note that the boundary of the study area excludes much of the proposed Western Growth Area and this is a serious deficiency. This area is scheduled for development in the medium term and we are aware that there are already existing issues relating to the rehabilitation of the land bordering the Barwon at the site of a proposed motorcycle training facility.

* The Plan covers land in the Merrawarp Road precinct. We are concerned that there is a lack of detail in the reports about the state of the range of ecosystems. Instead, the Plan has relied on desk top studies and limited field work. This needs to be rectified both now, and for when the southern part of the WGA is subject to study.

We also made the point that our concerns are serious and are shared by many other environmental groups across the region.

Trevor Hodson, Chair – FOTB

Image of the Barwon river near the Moorabool river confluence
Image of the Barwon river near the Moorabool river confluence