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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

DCSCA meets Richard Marles MP

On 3 April, DCSCA Committee members met local MP Richard Marles to discuss a range of local issues. Richard is the federal member for Corio and Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs.

Transport issues on the Bellarine
(i) A Drysdale bypass. We told Mr. Marles about DCSCA's campaign for a bypass road around Drysdale town centre and asked if he had any ideas. He advised us to highlight the problems through the local media and occasional 'stalls' in shopping centres; and to generate local interest by involving people actively in the campaign. He advised against a petition, because a lot of work is needed to create a petition sufficiently large to be effective. He also advised us to make local state politicians aware of local concerns about traffic and safety and of the social and economic benefits that a bypass can bring to the town

(ii) The Rail Trail. We told Mr. Marles that DCSCA was concerned for the safety of people on the rail trail who wish to cross the main road at Drysdale Station. He said that he will write to the City of Greater Geelong about the issue and invited DCSCA to send him anything that will support the case for a safer crossing.

(iii) A Portarlington-Melbourne ferry service. We said that the success of a Portarlington-Melbourne ferry service will depend partly on the construction of a Drysdale bypass! We believe that three events should happen consecutively: construct the Drysdale bypass, construct a 'safe harbour' at Portarlington, then initiate the ferry service. Without the bypass, the ferry will be a less attractive option, because vehicles heading to and from the ferry will have to negotiate the congestion in Drysdale High Street and, of course, will add to it.

(iv) The Geelong Ring Road. We discussed the proposed extension of the Ring Road to connect with the Bellarine Highway and the precise status of the road (e.g. infrastructure such as traffic lights). The general feeling was that the extension will happen, but no-one knows just when it will happen.

National Broadband Network
We told Mr. Marles that we were surprised that the NBN's first-stage roll-out in 2015 will bypass Drysdale & Clifton Springs - indeed, it will bypass most of the Bellarine Peninsula. Drysdale & Clifton Springs has poor telecommunications services, with several phone 'black spots' and slow internet access. He replied that the NBN roll-out is occurring first in areas requiring the least work (e.g. digging pits, laying cables). He suggested that we make a submission to the NBN annual review, arguing that Drysdale & Clifton Springs should be moved up its list of priorities. (For more on the NBN first-stage roll out and the Bellarine: 'NBN roll-out a set-back for Bellarine communities' on this blog, April 4 2012.)

Erosion at Clifton Springs
We told Mr. Marles about the continuing destruction of the historic mineral springs site at Clifton Springs, due to erosion of the cliff face. He said that he will raise the issue in parliament and invited DCSCA to send him anything that will support the case for action to be taken.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Watering the local future

Developments in sustainability at Armstrong Creek raise questions about equivalent 'master planned developments' in the Drysdale & Clifton Springs area, such as Central Walk and the huge Jetty Road Growth Area.

Armstrong Creek's Warralily estate will be the first residential estate in Greater Geelong to have access to Class A recycled water from Barwon Water's recycled water plant at Black Rock. In total, Barwon Water is investing more than $150m in water and sewerage infrastructure at Armstrong Creek, including a $4m recycled water tank at Mount Duneed. This tank will hold water from Black Rock, delivering it throughout Warralily via a 'purple pipe' network that can be used for flushing toilets, watering gardens and washing cars. The network will also be used to water major green spaces in the estate. It's estimated that the purple pipe network will save the equivalent of 2,400 million litres of drinking water each year. In a related sustainability feature, storm water will be captured and stored for use on Warralily's regional sporting facilities. (Sources:;; My Coastal Home, Autumn 2012 p27)

This is all very good news for anyone concerned about the environmental impact of the massive housing developments planned for the Bellarine Peninsula. however, it raises the question, why can't equivalent environmentally-friendly features be included in all new estates, not just Warralily?

Water efficient estates - a win for everyone
Water conservation is a crucial social issue, even after the end of the recent drought. Global warming is likely to bring us more droughts in the future (as well as more - and stronger - storms), so we need new housing estates in which water awareness and water efficiency are built-in to the design. At a minimum, developers should be required to build 'water efficient' estates, in which the amount of water leaving an estate is kept to an absolute minimum through recycling systems. Ideally, each estate should also include a 'purple pipe' network connected to a recycling station such as Black Rock.

Such water efficiency requirements needn't necessarily be seen as an 'onerous imposition', as 'more red tape' or as 'over-regulation'. As the developers of Warralily are showing, water efficiency and sustainability can be strong positives, adding to a development's attraction and value. Annual state and national awards for water efficiency and sustainability would reinforce its economic value while offering competitors the chance to 'add value' to their company's brand and identity. This would be a win for developers, for the environment and for households and communities. Further, requiring new estates to be water efficient and sustainable would encourage the emergence and growth of small businesses in which specialised tradespeople would provide, install and maintain the various water efficiency systems as part of a broader strategy to create sustainable, resilient communities.

Lake Lorne - a clarification
On February 7, 2012, drycliftdays included ‘DCSCA meets Cr. Rod Macdonald (8)’. That article included this sentence: ‘We raised the continuing absence of any work on the walking/cycling track around Lake Lorne, first raised by DCSCA many years ago.'

The phrase, ‘the continuing absence of any work on the walking/cycling track’ pointed to the absence at that time of any construction work. However, the phrase could be read as saying that no work at all had happened since DCSCA first suggested the walking track. That certainly wasn’t the intention. DCSCA has been among the stakeholders who have been involved in ongoing consultations with the City of Greater Geelong about the walking track and earlier posts on this blog have reported the council's efforts to turn the idea of the track into a reality.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

NBN roll-out a set-back for Bellarine communities

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is set to arrive on the Bellarine Peninsula in 2015, yet much of the Peninsula won't have access to it.

The NBN is being rolled out in stages. Stage one will include the Bellarine Highway from Leopold to Queenscliffe, speading south-west to take in Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove; and Portarlington Road from East Geelong, but stopping abruptly at Curlewis Road. Nowhere else on the Bellarine will be included in that first stage. (The current installation of broadband at Coriyule Estate in Drysdale is an anomoly, unconnected to the rest of the roll-out.)

The NBN has published a roll-out map, from which the illustrations in this article have been taken. Areas in green will be included in the stage one roll-out. For a closer look, go to the NBN's map:

Does this make sense?
Two things stand out from NBN’s roll-out map. Firstly, the stage one roll-out (starting 2015) will include Central Geelong and North Geelong including Lara. This will give businesses in that central/north area a competitive advantage over those in areas excluded from stage one, for example in South Geelong and in the outer regions of the City of Greater Geelong, such as the Bellarine Peninsula. Deliberately or not, this reinforces the City of Greater Geelong’s continuing practice of promoting the economy of central Geelong at the expense of anywhere else within its boundary.

Secondly, while it could be argued that most of the Bellarine Peninsula has been excluded from the stage one roll-out because of its relatively lower population density, the roll-out map shows otherwise. Peripheral, semi-rural areas to the west of the City such as Lethbridge and Teesdale are included in stage one; and Ocean Grove is included, yet Drysdale isn't, despite both towns being designated areas of population growth - just the sorts of places that you'd expect to be in stage one of the NBN roll-out.

Pleasing some of the people some of the time
Of course, the staged introduction of any service never pleases everyone. It pleases the people in the early stages and displeases everyone else. However, a longer wait for a service is more acceptable if it can be seen as the result of a fair and rational process. The NBN’s roll-out map shows that the introduction of broadband in the Geelong area is neither fair nor rational. It’s unfair on communities outside of central Geelong whose local economies may suffer as businesses in the centre become more competitive; and its scattergun approach of connecting individual communities in isolation from neighbouring ones is anything but rational.