The Environment Defenders Office and the South Beach Wetlands and Landcare Group welcome VCAT’s ruling that a developer must make major concessions to safeguard the home of the Latham’s Snipe. This shy migratory bird returns annually to the Powling Street Wetland complex, in Port Fairy, to feed and rest, and restore its fat reserves for the long migration back to Japan.
‘This decision returns eight lots that were to be developed back to the Latham’s Snipe as habitat.’ said Don Stewart of the South Beach Wetlands and Landcare Group. ‘This is a victory for the Latham’s Snipe and a victory for our local community. But it’s also a victory for common sense. Future homebuyers don’t want to build in an area that experts in the case, applying what they call ‘bathtub modelling’, have predicted will end up underwater.’
‘The only home worth having on these parts of the site is the one that’s already there – the home of a wading bird. This decision sensibly allocates the best and largest middle ephemeral wetland, which will flood as sea levels rise, to the birds.’ Mr Stewart continued.
‘Although we would rather have seen the entire site protected, this decision to protect around half of it is pleasing.’ said Environment Defenders Office lawyer Ariane Wilkinson, who ran the case. ‘This ruling is a vindication of the importance of local communities being involved in the decisions that are made about their local environment. This group of local people had real concerns about the development, which were supported by experts. These concerns have now been vindicated by VCAT.’