Funds for rural land strategy research

Wanagaratta Council
Wanagaratta Council

THE first movement on Wangaratta’s rural land strategy has been made since the former council was dismissed last September.

Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy yesterday announced the Victorian Government would provide $33,600 to fund a second socio-economic impact assessment of the strategy which was a contentious election item in 2012.

“This funding ensures an ongoing commitment from the Coalition government to the proper development and implementation of council’s rural land use strategy,” he said.

“The rural land use strategy identifies and supports the need to provide for long-term planning for the council’s rural areas as well as identifying and supporting the need for appropriate developments to support the council’s heritage and tourism opportunities.

“This funding helps in the implementation of this strategy giving farmers, land owners and the local community surety about how rural land will be developed and supported into the future.”

In mid-2012 a similar social, economic and environmental impact assessment was carried on the strategy out by consultants Lockyeri Pty Ltd on behalf of council.

The report concluded: “It is expected that the proposal will have minor positive and negative social and economic impacts and no environmental impacts”.

Victorian planning minister Matthew Guy released the government’s final rural zone proposals a month before the council was sacked.

There has been no movement on the issue since the appointment of administrators, Ailsa Fox, Rodney Roscholler and Irene Grant.

Former councillors Julian Fidge, Paul O’Brien and Noel Amery were elected in 2012 on the back of a groundswell of opposition to the rural land strategy adopted by the previous council.

An attempt to rescind the previous strategy by Mr Amery failed 12 months ago when he could only gain the support of Dr Fidge.

Mr O’Brien broke ranks due to the impending release of the final rural zone proposals.

Former member for Indi Sophie Mirabella also joined in the chorus of disapproval of the rural land strategy.

Mr McCurdy said he was pleased to secure the funding.

“I have lobbied the government on behalf of the Wangaratta Council to support the funding of this study,” he said.

“Minister Matthew Guy has been supportive of the Wangaratta Council progressing this strategy and I am pleased with this achieved outcome.”