Work continues with the development of plans for a major new mountain bike destination at Warburton, as an extended period of community feedback has resulted in some changes to the original design.
Locals were fretting about trails being in proximity to residences, about increased motor traffic, too many visitors, and provision of fire evacuation plans.
The MTB Destination, and the parallel Yarra Valley Trail initiative, are major investments by local, state and federal governments to revitalise the stagnant economy of the Yarra Ranges.
The projects are designed to encourage overnight stays in the region as part of a strategy to develop attractions for the physical active.
Because the MTB facility is located in a sensitive forest area, a major environmental effects statement process is underway prior to construction.
Technical specialists have been working for more than a year, writing hundreds of pages of technical reports and summary chapters to assess the impacts of the project in each study area.
The EES will include chapters on biodiversity and habitat, socio economic, traffic and transport, cultural heritage, waterways and catchments, land use and planning.
The project team recently met on site at Mt Donna Buang with specialists on the Leadbeater’s Possum and Mt Donna Buang Wingless Stonefly to identify opportunities to avoid or minimise impacts on the species.
As a result of this meeting several sections of trail are being realigned to avoid critical habitat areas near the summit of the mountain.
Trail networks have always been considered helpful for fire and emergency management. This project will have a Bushfire Management Statement and an Emergency Management Plan for preventing, preparing for, and responding to incidents and emergencies.
Local concerns about parking are to be addressed with the provision of 300 new spaces. In five years the predicted number of cars on the busiest day is 298 arriving and departing over a 12 hour period.
The EES will be exhibited for public comment this year before planning approval and construction gets underway in 2022.
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