This incident highlights a widespread issue for all peri-urban councils – a significant shortcoming in the State Planning Scheme provisions which greatly inhibit any council’s ability to act on such activity.
Actions Nillumbik Shire are pursuing include:
- Commencing enforcement action, to be pursued through VCAT and based on Council’s review of the earthworks being undertaken which established the owner or applicant have been operating without a Council permit;
- Seeking the permission of the Department of Transport, Victoria Police and other relevant agencies to implement further traffic control measures including stricter speed, load and vehicle size limits;
- Undertaking urgent works to repair damage to roads and other local infrastructure caused by the increase in heavy vehicles; and
- Working with other relevant agencies such as Melbourne Water and the Environment Protection Agency to address some of the specific issues within their respective remits.
Mayor Karen Egan said Council was leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to resolve this issue.
“Council is doing all it can to resolve this issue in the community’s best interests. We’ve sought the Planning Minister’s urgent intervention in the matter to introduce an interim change – which is within his powers of intervention (section 20(4) Planning and Environment Act 1987) – to the Nillumbik Planning Scheme that would require a permit for any earthworks involving more than 100 cubic metres of fill within the Green Wedge and Rural Conservation Zones,” Cr Egan said.
“We’ve also made a formal request of state planning authorities – through the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning – for these changes to be made permanent.
“As much as we’d like it to be, this is not a simple fix, but we’re doing all we can, as quickly as we can, within the constraints of [the] legal process and the existing State Planning Scheme provisions.”
Deputy Mayor and Planning Committee Chair Peter Clarke said that following due process was critical to achieving a satisfactory outcome.
“While we appreciate the community’s concern and frustration about this matter, it is critical that we pursue it in the right way so as not to jeopardise the most desirable outcome,” Cr Clarke said.
“What has occurred in this instance highlights the significant constraints placed by the State Planning Scheme provisions on the council’s ability to act. Faced with these constraints, Council is nevertheless committed to working with all affected parties, following the necessary process in order to resolve this issue in the community’s best interest.
“Council is disappointed in the circulation of baseless accusations alleging a lack of action on this issue when that is so clearly not the case. Our focus throughout has been on working collaboratively and constructively toward a resolution.”