Lesley Hewitt

During the Easter break I travelled with family down to Portland – it’s always interesting to see how other small rural shires manage.

Portland has a long indigenous and colonial history (one of it’s pubs has the distinction of being the longest continuously licensed hotel in Victoria).

We took the opportunity to visit Budj Bim, a UNESCO world heritage site with its evidence of ancient Gunditjmara aquaculture and to see firsthand how the Gunditjmara ancestors manipulated their natural environment to ensure plentiful food supplies, and to learn how the Gunditj owners are working to re-establish aquaculture at Tae Rak (Lake Condah). The UNESCO world heritage listing has helped the process and gives us in Hepburn Shire some idea of the benefits that can flow if the Central Goldfields World Heritage bid is successful.

Portland has the only seal breeding colony and gannet breeding colony on mainland Australia and combined with the management of its indigenous and settlement history is a positive example of managing visitation with sustainability.

Portland also has modern health facilities and a broad range of supported accommodation options.

There are a number of wind farms which again leads to the questions of how to store and transmit renewable energy, drawing attention to the two projects proposed for our area – WRL and VNI West. Council has made a strong submission re VNI West which you can read here Victoria – New South Wales Interconnector (VNI) West project | Participate Hepburn. Yesterday  (13th April) the ABC reported on two energy experts stating that the Western Victorian major transmission projects were ‘a monumental mistake’. Professor Simon Bartlett and Bruce Mountain raised many of the issues that residents and Council have identified previously. You can read their concerns here Western Victorian major transmission projects ‘monumental mistake’, warn energy experts – ABC News

The April Council meeting is on 18th April. The agenda and supporting documents can be found on the Council website.  The items on the agenda include planning applications PLN22/0263 23 Smith St, PLN 22/0176  4179 Midland Highway and PLN22/3530 9 Raglan St. All three applications have attracted considerable community interest and the objectors and applicant had the opportunity to speak to councillors on 28th March.

Another issue which has attracted a lot of community interest in Daylesford is the review of the outdoor dining policy. Residents’ can voice their view via a survey at Home | Participate Hepburn which closes today 14th April. Councillors will and do listen to what the community says. Of course, not everyone has the same opinion, and the role of the Councillor is to listen, evaluate and then weigh up the decision that is of course, legal and in the bests interests of the whole Shire.

Cr Lesley Hewitt is an elected Councillor for Birch Ward.

Councillor Columns are a regular feature in The Wombat Post. We offer this space as an information channel from Council to the community. Councillor Columns are not subject to editorial review by our editorial committee but are published as we receive them from our elected Councillors.