THE Victorian Government said it is enshrining in law the protection of the Yarra River, with Minister for Planning Richard Wynne last week introducing the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Bill 2017 to State Parliament.
The proposed legislation recognises the importance of the river to Melbourne and Victoria, and provides for the declaration of the Yarra River and certain public land in its vicinity for the purpose of protecting it as one living and integrated natural entity.
In a first for Victorian legislation, the preamble is partly written in the language of the traditional owners, the Woi-wurrung language, and the Bill highlights the intrinsic connection of the traditional owners to the Yarra River and its Country and further recognises them as the custodians of the land and waterway which they call Birrarung.
The Bill also aims to strengthen the protection and management of the Yarra River by:
- Developing a Yarra Strategic Plan to coordinate 14 public entities that operate along the river corridor;
- Establishing a new statutory body, the Birrarung Council, to act as an independent voice for the river;
- Requiring regular reporting by the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability on the environmental condition of the river and its parklands;
- Designating the parklands and open space along the river as the Greater Yarra Urban Parklands; and
- Ensuring future governments protect the Yarra River.
Mr Wynne said the government has already introduced stronger planning controls to protect against inappropriate private development along the Yarra River, setting tougher rules to prevent overshadowing, and introducing mandatory height limits and minimum setbacks from the river's edge.
More information is available from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website at <https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/policy-and-strategy/waterways-planning/yarra-river-protection>.