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Minister's intervention in golf course relocation could impact on 90% of voters within his electorate.

February 20 2013

Environmental organisation Friends of the Earth expressed further concern about Minister Guy's intervention in the relocation of Eastern Golf Course.

On February 8, the Minister amended the property address, where the Eastern Golf Course is planned to be constructed, from Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme Green Wedge Zone Schedule 4 to Special Use Zone Schedule 9. This then meant that the golf course could be constructed without the need for a permit. This was less than one working day before the matter was to be heard at VCAT.

The development is planned to be constructed one kilometre upstream from the offtake on the Yarra River to Sugarloaf Reservoir. It is the closest private land located near the offtake. Sugarloaf Reservoir provides drinking water to 1.5 million Melbournians with drinking water, including 90% of the Minister's own electorate of Northern Metropolitan.

Spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Anthony Amis said: “Minister Guy has intervened in a legal dispute almost at the last minute. His decision may please a few hundred golf course members, but could well back fire if pollutants from the golf course end up in Melbourne drinking water. The construction of the course will be bad enough in terms of sediment risks to the river, but after construction the course plans to regularly use 34 pesticides. Many of which are known groundwater contaminants, developmental toxins, endocrine disruptors and suspected carcinogens.”

“The Minister has intervened, despite 90% of his own electorate of Northern Metropolitan receiving drinking water from the Sugarloaf. Has the Minister taken into account the reliance of most of his electorate receiving drinking water from Sugarloaf and if problems emerge with this development then his decision could link him politically to problems during construction, operation and into the future. Why should the people who elected Mr Guy into office, face potential drinking water issues from this development for decades to come? Why was the Precautionary Principle ignored in regards to this matter?” said Mr Amis.

Minister Guy's electorate of Northern Metropolitan takes in the following suburbs: Broadmeadows, Brunswick, Bundoora, Diamond Creek, Ivanhoe, Melbourne, Mill Park, Northcote, Preston, Richmond, Thomastown, Thornbury, Whittlesea, Yan Yean.

Diamond Creek, Mill Park and Whittlesea source their water almost exclusively from Sugarloaf.

Brunswick, Ivanhoe, Northcote, Preston, Thomastown, Thornbury source water mainly from Sugarloaf, with Melbourne and Richmond sometimes from getting water from Sugarloaf.

Friends of the Earth also have concerns that of the 34 pesticides likely to be used on the course, only 1 is currently tested for by Melbourne Water at the offtake to Sugarloaf Reservoir. This means that almost 97% of pesticides used on the course will probably remain undetected by Melbourne Water. Even Melbourne Water's Risk Assessment has pointed out in regards to Sugarloaf that: “The health impacts of biocides are uncertain and generally of a chronic nature. It is possible that long term exposure could cause cancer within a  sub-set of the population resulting in shortened life expectancy in some people. Risk Rating High''

For More Information Contact Anthony Amis 0425 841 564

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