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Council refuses to give up land for North East Link ahead of court date

The reserve would also be used as a launch site for the project’s tunnel boring machines, but the council argues the site is too close to residents’ homes.

A government-appointed independent panel that oversaw nine weeks of hearings into the project’s environmental impact backed the concerns raised by Banyule and called for a rethink. This was dismissed by the state government.

“We’ve been vocal about our concerns and the state government has powers to acquire the land from council and that’s what they have done,” Cr Champion said.

Banyule has also refused access to a separate reserve next to Watsonia station, arguing that four massive transmission towers should be replaced with less imposing structures, enabling a town square to be built. This has not been agreed to by the government.

Residents have also raised broader concerns about a lack of information about the $200 million early works now under way across the sensitive green wedge.

The Inquiry and Advisory Committee overseeing the project’s environmental hearings backed Banyule’s calls for a longer tunnel, which would avoid the need for residential acquisition.

It would also reduce damage to the Simpson Barracks, which contains “one of the most significant populations of native vegetation” in metropolitan Melbourne, the panel found.

Mark Lawton’s home in Kay Court Yallambie backs onto the barracks and its towering, endangered trees.

Every morning, his children check on owls nesting in the fence and greet visiting kangaroos. They hear the cry of the kookaburras in the afternoon. Bur Mr Lawton fears that with plans to remove 11 hectares of vegetation at the barracks, the wildlife and their habitat will go.

“As soon as those changes to vegetation are done, you can’t undo it. You’ve got 100-year-old trees there, there’s no way any replanted trees would be at the height they are now in my lifetime.”

This content was originally published here.

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