The Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve has been decimated as the Frankston Bypass freeway construction now cuts through the once-pristine bushland. A photo gallery documents the destruction; it is a depressing sight. Two photos below show before and a simulated after (once the freeway is built):
Shame, shame, shame on this heartless uncaring government. Its environmental credentials are a farce. Australia’s disgraceful record of environmental destruction continues unabated (another example is the logging of old-growth forests in Victoria). Some letters in response below:
Paradise paved over
John Brumby pledged last week to cut Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 through cleaner power generation (The Age, 26/7).
Simultaneously his government signs contracts to construct more freeways, which will increase carbon emissions. In the process the historic Westerfield sanctuary and Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve for the Frankston Bypass, and Coomoora Woodland Reserve for the Dingley Arterial will be sacrificed. Yet in each case there is a viable alternative route that would preserve these invaluable environmental assets.
Why set a target to cut emissions, but authorise the destruction of natural carbon sinks. Is the Premier genuine or just a pretender, creating a smokescreen for short-sighted and unsustainable development by setting a long-term target for which he will never be held accountable? Even if emissions are eventually contained, what natural heritage will be left for future generations to enjoy once paradise has been fully paved?
– Damon Anderson, Keysborough
Dark day as state shows its might
To say Tuesday was a sad day for democracy and for the environment is an understatement. But it is hard to adequately express the significance of the freeway protesters’ defeat at Westerfield, near Frankston (“Police arrest freeway protesters”, The Age, 29/9).
That 100 police are brought in to subdue protesters sends a message that no matter what people do to protect what they value, the state will bring in stronger forces to overpower them.
At that point there is nothing further that citizens can do to protect their environment and the only reasonable reaction is despair. A disengaged populace without hope fits best into the Brumby government’s “plan”.
– Jill Quirk, Malvern East
No more softly, softly
The Brumby government will not tolerate any interference with Peninsula Link freeway plans, even if it means the compulsory acquisition and destruction of pristine, privately owned, heritage-listed bushland complete with endangered species of fauna and flora.
This was carried out before a VCAT hearing pertaining to the historic site.
I was witness to the extraordinary events at the Westerfield site on Tuesday, when 100 or more police, including mounted police, arrived on the site equipped in riot gear, ready to defend construction workers against a tiny group of peaceful protesters, many of whom were in their 60s or over.
It appears that since former chief commissioner Christine Nixon retired, the era of softly softly “community policing” is over. We are well and truly back in the strong-arm-of-the-law era of the Kennett government.
– Rod Binnington, Brighton
No trust for Pallas
Roads Minister Tim Pallas should resign. Last week he assured the protesters that the bulldozing would not go ahead until the VCAT ruling was handed down.
On Tuesday, Mr Pallas suddenly switched. It is shameful when a minister of the state cannot be trusted.
These incredible protesters have picketed this area all through the cold winter. They deserve medals; instead they are arrested.
– Mary Drost, convener, Planning Backlash, Camberwell
Bullying shifts south-east
John Brumby, not satisfied with bullying Footscray residents affected by the $4.3 billion new rail line, from Southern Cross through Footscray to Little River, now bullies southern pensioners and retirees.
Mr Brumby’s message to residents in the west that the new rail line will go ahead regardless of the findings of any study on its impact on residents and the environment reeks of the bully-boy tactics well practised by his government.
Charging in to break up the Westerfield picket line, manned by locals in their senior years, is the latest new low for this government. Once again, Brumby’s mantra – regardless of residents and the environment – wins the day, but perhaps not the next state election.
– Darlene Reilly, Sunshine
Biting the hand
If the ALP want to win votes from the Greens (“What’s eating Labor”, 19/9) they should not have bulldozed the Westerfield heritage bushland last week. And they should not bulldoze the environmentally significant Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve (also in the Peninsula Link reservation at Frankston) or the Coomoora woodland.
Nor should they be dreaming of putting a north-east link freeway through the Yarra Flats at Banyule. Nor should they have voted, with Coalition support, to take 43,600 hectares of green wedge land for urban development.
– Rosemary West, Edithvale
Woodland lost, questions remain
State Roads Minister Tim Pallas justifies destruction of the Westerfield property’s heritage bushland to construct the Peninsula Link freeway with the claim that “work commenced in this area with all the necessary heritage and environmental approvals and permits in place following extensive planning” (Letters, 2/10).
Wrong, Mr Pallas. You must surely be aware that VCAT – our civil justice court – is hearing questions as to why native vegetation is being cleared from the site before “vegetation offsets” have been secured to comply with Victoria’s Native Vegetation Management Framework (“vegetation offsets” provide like-for-like vegetation at another location in lieu of that to be destroyed).
Westerfield’s rare and pristine “grassy woodland”, which has been destroyed in 48 hours, should have had the question of offsets resolved before clearing of any vegetation. The government should follow due process and not change soundly based laws that protect our environment.
– Joyce and Simon Welsh, Westerfield, Frankston
We are misinformed
Tim Pallas’s claim that the heritage-listed Westerfield land was available for clearing in June is misleading. Heritage Victoria’s final decision regarding the property was handed down on July 28. An appeal committee found the initial approval of March 17 was flawed. Final approval was given on September 9, meaning that if work was started in June it would have been without the necessary approval of Heritage Victoria.
There is a history of misinformation. In August 2007, Mr Pallas announced the statutory offsets for native vegetation cleared for EastLink and claimed that a parcel of land in Langwarrin was “now Crown land”. This statement was false then and remains so now, despite the law that these matters are to be finalised 12 months after construction starts.
The land remains in private hands and the $600,000 payment for its improvement remains in limbo, pending a planning scheme amendment and its subdivision from a larger site.
There are laws that govern the preservation of our landscape and heritage and norms that apply to truth and sound governance. These laws and norms have been treated with contempt.
– Jim Kerin, Frankston
(I also posted this at Avatar-Forums.com.)