ONE of the “hidden gems” of Ballarat’s natural environment remains under threat from the new Western Link Road development, environmental advocates said yesterday.
Members of the Ballarat Environment Network (BEN) called for the new road to be moved further away from the delicate Winter Swamp wetlands, to avoid endangering wildlife and the area’s water system.
BEN executive officer Hedley Thomson said the group had consistently opposed the new road since 2006 but the City of Ballarat and VicRoads had failed to take action.
“The road will cross part of the important Winter Swamp wildlife reserve, cutting the linear walking link that we are developing from Ring Rd to the main wetland,” he said.
“Its proximity to the wetland will have significant adverse impacts for both the local wildlife — including the brolgas that regularly nest at the wetland — and for the many people who visit the reserve, including residents of nearby Alfredton.”
Mr Thomson said the wetlands already suffered from increased use of the nearby Ring Road and Remembrance Drive as well as the Ballarat Aerodrome.
“All of these changes have come about through council decisions without any serious considerations of environmental impacts on environmental assets such as Winter Swamp.
“The proposed road will add to these impacts in a substantial way”.
A City of Ballarat spokesperson said the preferred alignment for the road had been adopted by the council in February 2010 because it already maximised the distance between the new road and Winter Swamp.
“Council officers have been in contact with representatives from Ballarat Environment Network during the Western Link Road project regarding environmental matters,” the spokesperson said.
“The council is working with Ballarat Environment Network as a key stakeholder to support the successful delivery of the project.
“These outcomes include enhanced access and preservation of ecological corridors in the Winter Swamp area.”