Push for better Maribyrnong River protection

By Benjamin Millar

Campaigners are stepping up their push for better protection of the Maribyrnong River and western suburbs waterways.

Legal group Environmental Justice Australia is leading the call for stricter planning controls that mirror those brought in last year to protect the Yarra River from inappropriate development.

The Rivers of the West campaign, bringing together environment, legal and local river groups, highlights the gap between efforts to protect the Yarra and the Maribyrnong and Werribee Rivers.

Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Bruce Lindsay, who helped fight for the Yarra’s better protection, said it was time to shift Melbourne’s rivers from being industrial drains to well-functioning waterways.

He said development at the heavily contaminated Commonwealth Defence site in Maribyrnong could have potentially damaging consequences for the Maribyrnong River.

The campaign is calling for an end to over-clearing of vegetation in catchments, seeking restoration of wetlands along rivers
and demanding tougher planning measures
and improved management of stormwater run-off.

Friends of the Maribyrnong Valley secretary Maelor Himbury said Maribyrnong, Brimbank and Moonee Valley councils had become more serious about the problem, but that the state government is lagging.

Water Minister Lisa Neville said the government has passed laws to protect the Yarra and would “consider similar protections for other landmarks”.

Opposition environment spokesman Nick Wakeling offered support for action on the west’s waterways.

“At a time of significant population growth, it is imperative to act to protect the Maribyrnong River,” he said.

The campaign comes as Maribyrnong council continues to press the state government to spend $12.5 million to revitalise the Maribyrnong River to offset the impact of the proposed West Gate Tunnel.

-with The Age