Ballarat’s bushland and nature reserves are being treated like trash, with many residents and authorities fed up with illegal rubbish dumping creating an unsightly mess in the region.
A group of four wheel drivers is taking to the bush around Smythesdale in an effort to clean up and send a clear message that rubbish dumping is not okay.
More than 70 people from around the state will take part in Four Wheel Drive Victoria’s Clean Up the Bush project at the weekend.
The project aims to clear rubbish, household waste, car bodies, tyres, and green waste that has been illegally dumped in the bush areas around Smythesdale, an area which has been identified as a hot spot for rubbish.
Four Wheel Drive Victoria CEO Wayne Hevey said it was disheartening to see rubbish dumped in the bush during four wheel drive adventures across the state.
“What we are trying to do is educate people this is not the way to do things in the bush,” he said.
“Form an environmental point of view, it is disgusting. Whether it is cars, tyres, household, rubbish or garden waste, it all has a negative effect on the bush.”
Some of the stuff we come across can be quite revolting.Wayne Hevey, Four Wheel Drive Victoria CEO
Four Wheel Drive Victoria has been running Clean Up the Bush weekends at various locations since 2012. The group ran a clean up at Nerrina State Forrest and the Wombat State Forest near Bullarto in 2016.
“We want to educate young children to say to their father, ‘listen dad, this is not the way to do it. Go to the tip’. There is a cost involved in going to the tip, but it is nowhere near the cost involved if they get caught dumping it illegally,” Mr Hevey said.
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970, offenders can be prosecuted in court with maximum fines of $6342.
City of Ballarat infrastructure and environment director Terry Demeo told The Courier in November council was looking at strategies to enforce and prosecute.
“We have ambitions of a broader strategy project working with DELWP and Parks Victoria and are looking for some state funding, in partnership with agencies, to be more proactive with enforcement, potential prosecution and education,” he said.
You can report illegal dumping to EPA Victoria by contacting 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).
Contact Four Wheel Drive Victoria on 9874 7222 if you are interested in volunteering for Clean Up the Bush at Smythesdale.