People in Melbourne’s outer northern fringe will have their say on what land should be ear-marked for agricultural use in the face of the ever-expanding growth of suburbs.
The State Government will consult communities, councils, farmers and industries in a bid to develop a strategic plan for agricultural land in Melbourne’s ‘green-wedge’ and ‘peri-urban’ areas.
There are 12 designated green wedge areas across 17 municipalities, including the City of Whittlesea, while peri-urban areas include the Mitchell and Macedon Ranges shires.
Landowners whose land is assessed as strategic agricultural land, will have their agricultural uses supported but opportunities for non-agricultural uses, such as sub-dividing land for housing development, could be limited.
A regional workshop in Kilmore on April 3, 6pm to 8pm, will address developing a draft criteria and map and allow residents to provide input about what strategic areas should be protected.
The government says the planning is about providing greater certainty for agricultural businesses to support long term investment.
Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes said the government was undertaking technical work in partnership with Agriculture Victoria and Deakin University’s Centre for Rural and Regional Futures to provide information for identifying strategic agricultural land.
Key components to determining agricultural land include soils, landscapes, access to water, climate and versatility of land.
Piggeries, poultry sheds and greenhouses do not form part of the criteria in determining key agricultural land.
“We’re providing greater certainty for agricultural businesses to support long term growth, investment and innovation,” she said.
Ms Symes reiterated the importance of agricultural land on Melbourne’s outskirts, saying land within 100 kilometres of Melbourne grew 10 per cent of Victoria’s agricultural production, including 59 per cent of vegetables, in 2015-16.
Minister for Planning Richard Wynne said the plan was part of the government’s comprehensive review of outer-suburban and peri-urban land, which hopes to improve land use and assist decision-making in these areas.
Mr Wynne said the government would protect Melbourne’s unique green wedges.
“Once these areas are gone, they’re gone forever – it’s important we carefully assess these areas and preserve them for future generations,” he said.
Consultation is now open until April 23. Other workshops are planned for Bacchus Marsh, Mornington, Koo Wee Rup and Yarra Junction.
To RSVP for a workshop, visit protecting-sal-workshops.eventbrite.com or call 8392 5595.
Submissions can be made online through Engage Victoria or at a workshop. For more information, visit engage.vic.gov.au.