Updated: May 11
When we drive out of town, we are immersed in the rural landscape of open farmlands and bushlands, with its roads, fences and scattered buildings. It seems as if it has always been like this, although we know that it must have been very different 200 years ago, We have grown with this landscape and we don’t want it to change. Is change inevitable or desirable, and can we do something about it? This Rural Land and Activities Review (and the accompanying Landscape Assessment Study) is about all that - see here.
Mitchell Shire Council has been developing a series of land use plans over the past seven years, beginning with the Structure Plans for Wallan, Kilmore and Wandong/Heathcote Junction, Seymour and Broadford (still in draft). This Review covers the rural areas and small townships.
The overall concept of these plans is to limit township growth within boundaries and protect the values of the rural landscape. Landscape is more than the vista from a hilltop or the glimpse of a large old tree. It also reflects the way the landscape functions – ecologically and economically - and the different ways we relate to the land.
The Review proposes little or no change in the rural landscape, primarily by limiting the subdivision of farming land. This will retain the broader rural landscape values of the region and allow for a continuing rural industry. It may help to keep rural land prices relatively low where there is no opportunity for intensive subdivision (with land banking and all the other manipulations that push up prices – see here).
But, with its emphasis on primary production, we may see a change towards a more depleted and less sustainable environment, particularly in the face of climate change and biodiversity loss.
The BEAM submission is complied by Peter Mitchell. We are proposing a more detailed and nuanced approach that will help us move both back to a healthier ecological balance across the landscape and forwards to meet the inevitable challenges of the future.
Here are the submissions -