EMBATTLED Ballan Caledonian Caravan Park residents have expressed relief at a government decision not to move eight cabins before the park’s future is determined.
A source had earlier told The Courier that The Department of Sustainability and Environment had offered eight Ballan cabins to the Blackwood Caravan Park.
DSE regional director south-west region Laurie Dwyer confirmed the offer, but said it was made before the DSE received a business proposal from a Ballan group, Eco-Village.
Last month the group, including businessman Paul Tatchell, submitted a financial plan to the DSE for low-cost environmental homes at the park.
The department is currently considering the proposal that could save residents from losing their homes.
“DSE won’t remove the cabins until the long-term future of the land is determined and DSE has an opportunity to assess the use of the cabins with Mr Tatchell as part of the total assessment of the proposal,” Mr Dwyer said.
DSE, which manages the land for the state government, has asked residents to move out in about two months because the park does not comply with its permanent land-use policy.
Helen Baker, 62, who has a disability and has been living in the park with her husband for more than five years, said the news was a relief.
“We are all just hoping that they would extend the eviction date and give us the extra time that we need to have the Eco-Village up and running,” Ms Baker said. “It would be very unsettling for me to leave especially with my health condition and age.”
Ms Baker said she urged Environment Minister Ryan Smith to show some mercy and step in.
Ballarat East MP Geoff Howard said he hoped the DSE understood that it would be appropriate to give the proposal an opportunity to be thoroughly tested before they took any action.
Mr Tatchell said Eco-Village had always been open and transparent and hoped that the DSE would be the same.
A government spokesperson said the minister had received correspondence from the local business group regarding the plan.