Agreement to undertake the strategic assessment

In June 2009, the Victorian and Commonwealth governments agreed to undertake a strategic assessment of the Victorian Government's urban development program Delivering Melbourne's newest sustainable communities.

Made under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the agreement focuses on matters of national environmental significance.

The areas included in the program and covered by the MSA are:

  • areas added to the Urban Growth Boundary by planning scheme amendment VC68 (the 2010 Urban Growth Boundary);
  • areas in the Outer Metropolitan Ring/E6 Transport Corridor and the Regional Rail Link corridor; and,
  • areas in the existing 28 urban precincts within the 2005 Urban Growth Boundary.

The areas covered by the program are shown on map 1 and maps 3 to 6 of the Program Report.

The MSA is the first of its kind in Australia to be submitted for Commonwealth Government approval.

To view the document visit Publications.

Commonwealth Government approvals

The Commonwealth Government has provided approvals under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) for four classes of actions regulated by the MSA Program:

No further approvals are required under the EPBC Act for urban development in these areas, as long as development follows the Program Report and the conditions of the approvals which ensure that urban development proceeds in a way that protects matters of national environmental significance.

Approval is still required from the Commonwealth Government for development of the Outer Metropolitan Ring Transport Corridor/E6 Road Reservation.

Program report

Part of the agreement with the Commonwealth Government includes a range of commitments relating to conservation outcomes and mitigation measures. These commitments were made to ensure that urban development proceeds in a way that protects matters of national environmental significance.

These commitments are set out in the Program Report and include the establishment of the Western Grassland Reserves and a Grassy Eucalypt Woodland Reserve outside the Urban Growth Boundary.

The Program Report was endorsed by the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment on 2 February 2010.

Planning scheme amendment VC68

Planning scheme amendment VC68 gave effect to key aspects of the Victorian Government's urban development program, including:

  • the expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary; and,
  • Public Acquisition Overlays for the proposed Western Grassland Reserves, the Regional Rail Link, and the Outer Metropolitan Ring Transport Corridor/E6 Road Reservation.

The amendment was ratified by Parliament on 29 July 2010 and gazetted on 6 August 2010.

Conservation strategies under the MSA

The Victorian Government has developed four conservation strategies for the growth corridors. These identify how key commitments under the Melbourne Strategic Assessment (MSA) will be achieved.

The approved strategies are:

  • Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for Melbourne's Growth Corridors
  • Sub-regional Species Strategy for the Southern Brown Bandicoot
  • Sub-regional Species Strategy for the Growling Grass Frog
  • Sub-regional Species Strategy for the Golden Sun Moth.

Here at DELWP we have also developed the Guidance Note: Implementing the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for Melbourne’s Growth Corridors to set out how key components of the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy Growth will be implemented.

Tools and processes for implementing the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy through the planning system will be finalised and publicly available once planning schemes are amended.

Areas covered by the conservation strategies

The conservation strategies apply to:

  • 16 of the existing 28 urban precincts in the 2005 Urban Growth Boundary;
  • the Outer Metropolitan Ring Transport Corridor/E6 Road Reservation; and,
  • the four growth corridors in the expanded 2010 Urban Growth Boundary.

The growth corridors covered by the strategies are:

  • the western growth corridor (Melton/Wyndham);
  • the north-western growth corridor (Sunbury/Diggers Rest);
  • the northern growth corridor (Hume/Whittlesea/Mitchell); and
  • the suth-eastern growth corridor (Casey/Cardinia).

The 16 urban precincts covered by the strategies are identified in the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy.

These strategies do not apply to the Regional Rail Link corridor between Werribee and Deer Park (section 2) or to 12 of the existing 28 urban precincts in the 2005 Urban Growth Boundary (those precincts approved before 1 March 2012).

Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

The Biodiversity Conservation Strategy is the overarching strategy for the protection of biodiversity in the growth corridors and is a significant step towards finalising the planning for biodiversity required by the Melbourne Strategic Assessment.

The strategy:

  • addresses all relevant matters of state significance, as well as matters of national environmental significance protected under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;
  • ensures the long-term protection of biodiversity in the growth corridors, by setting up a network of conservation areas; and,
  • sets out conservation measures to protect important biodiversity outside Melbourne to complement actions within the growth corridors.

The Biodiversity Conservation Strategy informs the Growth Corridor Plans prepared by the former Growth Areas Authority. These plans set the strategic direction for future urban development of land in the growth areas over the next 20 to 30 years.

Sub-regional species strategies

Sub-regional species strategies have been prepared for the Growling Grass Frog, the Golden Sun Moth, and the Southern Brown Bandicoot. These threatened species are matters of national environmental significance protected under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The sub-regional species strategies will help ensure the long-term protection of Growling Grass Frog, Golden Sun Moth, and Southern Brown Bandicoot in the growth corridors.

The Sub-Regional Species Strategy for the Southern Brown Bandicoot also focuses on conservation actions for the species outside the area covered by the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy.

We have also prepared a supplement to the Sub-regional Species Strategy for the Southern Brown Bandicoot to clarify and provide additional guidance on commitments to provide habitat connectivity for the Southern Brown Bandicoot in Melbourne's south-east region.

Land Protection under the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

The Victorian Government prepared the document Land Protection under the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy to describe the mechanisms and governance associated with acquiring and protecting land in Conservation Areas identified as part of the MSA, and to identify the criteria that will be used to prioritise land for acquisition under the program.

To view these documents visit Publications.

Public consultation

The draft conservation strategies were released for public consultation, along with the Growth Corridor Plans prepared by the former Growth Areas Authority, for a six-week period from 9 November 2011 to 20 December 2011.

The final conservation strategies have responded to feedback and new information received during public consultation processes.

To view these documents visit Publications.

Time stamping data

The Victorian Government commissioned consultants to collect native vegetation data on properties where landowners had requested it. The collection was undertaken in accordance with specific assessment standards, including the mapping and assessment tasks required, the standards and formats for data collection, and the quality assurance standards.

The vegetation mapping and condition assessment procedures report outlines these standards. To view these documents visit Publications.

The time-stamping data is available for viewing via the Biodiversity Interactive Map

The time-stamping data informs habitat compensation obligations.