Victorian government announces $3 million to clean up North Wangaratta Recreation Reserve

WORK to restore a Wangaratta oval contaminated by lead may not start for up to two months, despite a $3 million contribution announced on Thursday.

The Victorian government has provided money to clean up North Wangaratta Recreation Reserve.

Environment Protection Authority Victoria closed the ground 15 months ago after tests revealed lead at the site.

North Wangaratta Football and Netball Club was allowed to resume training there this year but home games had to be played elsewhere.

Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio facilitated the funding, which had been allocated in the May budget for the remediation of contaminated land at gun clubs.

“While this is a complex issue that will take time to resolve, the EPA need to get on with the job and ensure that the ground is available for use by the North Wangaratta Football and Netball Club for the 2018 season,” Ms Symes said.

Club president Nate Bartlett said the Hawks were waiting to see what happened next.

“As a club we are very happy with the announcement that the money’s there,” he said. “We’re just hoping that we see some action sooner rather than later.

“The next five to six weeks will determine whether or not it’s too little, too late.”

Wangaratta mayor Ken Clarke said the government money should cover the restoration costs.

“I’m very pleased that things are starting to move with cleaning up the North Wangaratta football oval,” he said. “We think that work will probably commence within a couple of months, as soon as the oval dries out a little bit.”

Cr Clarke said North Wangaratta Football and Netball Club had suffered through not being able to host home games.

“This will hopefully give them a new lease of life,” he said.

Cleaning up the reserve will involve removing contaminated soil and reinstating the oval. The grass will also need time to regrow to playing standards.