EES delays Warburton MTB development

A last minute decision for an Environmental Effects Statement has added a planning stage to the development of the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination.

The Minister for Planing, Dick Wynn, requested an EES in order to establish whether there will be any adverse impacts as a result of the facility, which already has received considerable funding.

The Warburton Destination has 44 trails totalling 186km and is ideally located to attract bike riders from across Melbourne to the Yarra Ranges for overnight stays.

The tracks would occur in groups located in slightly separate areas extending across the forested slopes of Mount Donna Buang, Mount Little Joe and Mount Tugwell, within the Yarra Ranges National Park and two state forests.

As part of the project, a new visitor’s hub (main track head) is proposed at the Warburton Golf Course, with the existing carpark to be upgraded to accommodate a nominal 177 cars, a new shelter, and four or five wash bays to be used by mountain bike riders.

Three other track heads are proposed: a new area located on top of Mount Tugwell, off Mount Bride Road which will include a carpark, a bus turnaround bay, toilet and picnic area; another at Mount Donna Buang track head which will include upgrades to the existing carpark, toilet and picnic area, and lastly the establishment of parking and connecting tracks at Wesburn Park.

While there is potential for environmental impacts during construction and operation of such facilities, these days there are sophisticated approaches available to manage any risks.

Indeed, sensitively designed and managed facilities have been shown to enhance the appreciation of the natural values we seek to protect in parks and forests.

Warburton is one of Victoria's great bike destinations.

Currently the Department of Land, Water, Environment ad Planning (DWELP) is undertaking scoping requirements to assess what should be considered in the EES.

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Yarra Ranges councillor Jim Childs said the council was committed to working with partnering agencies to ensure the project continues to progress.

“The EES will further strengthen comprehensive work already undertaken in planning the project to ensure potential environmental impacts would be appropriately managed," he said.

“Yarra Ranges is home to some of the most beautiful and unique natural landscapes in the world, and we are committed to doing everything we can to protect that,” Cr Child said.

“The mountain bike trails will wind their way through sub-alpine forest, giant Mountain Ash trees and lush fern gullies, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in these stunning surrounds while fostering a greater appreciation for our wonderful environment.

“Our aim has always been to make the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination a world class project, and the EES process will further contribute to that vision.”

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