Delay prompts concern

Point Lonsdale front beach

A delay in the Bellarine Distinctive Areas Landscape (DAL) has prompted the chair of the Combined Bellarine Community Associations to express concern about the process.

Dr Lawrence St.Leger said the beauty and benefits of being in nature in the Bellarine is under threat.

He claimed the long delays by the state government in responding to the Bellarine communities and stakeholders to make comments on the Bellarine DAL were concerning.

“The DAL process is now over two years old,” he said.

“Meanwhile our residents and many visitors still do not know if the government is going to protect our natural environments, our open spaces and its vegetation and native animals, the diversity of our wetlands, waterways and coastal beaches and dunes.”

Dr St.Leger, a former Dean of Health at Deakin University, and author of the science based evidence of being in and connecting with nature, said regular and new visitors to the Bellarine this summer needed to know that their access to nature and its many scientific benefits will be reduced if there is more development on the Bellarine.

“Having easy access to nature actually improves sleep, lowers blood pressure, reduces anger and aggression, enhances resiliency, increases community cohesion, lowers crime rates and enhances relationship skills,” he said.

“Government delays about the DAL outcomes would reduce the very good intentions of the draft Bellarine DAL, which put in place a strong framework for the protection of the Bellarine Peninsula and all of its towns from over-development in accordance with previously announced government election promises, intentions and commitments.”

Phase 3 engagement on the draft Bellarine Peninsula SPP resulted in a total of 618 long-form and short-from submission surveys completed. Of these, there were 189 additional documents submitted online. A further 20 written submissions were accepted via registered post, alongside 9 lodged by local RPEs and governmental departments.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is now reviewing the submissions and will prepare a consultation report for the consideration by the Minister for Planning.