COMMUNITY group Save the Holden Bushlands is seeking meetings with MPs and state ministers as it seeks to save the last significant coastal forest in the Western Port region.
Members of the group met Bass MP Jordan Crugnale this morning at the entrance to the proving ground, which has stood silent since GMH announced in February that it would cease operations in Australia.
The group is seeking public ownership of the site for the benefit and enjoyment of all Victorians and visitors with the Holden bushlands becoming the iconic entrance to Bass Coast.
A spokesman for Save the Holden Bushlands group, Tim O'Brien, said it was vital that those seeking to save the bushland acted quickly before it was sold for development or sand mining.
Last month a national commercial real estate company privately circulated a sales brochure for the 877-hectare site between Lang Lang and The Gurdies. The sales process appears to be by invitation only and there is no indication of price.
In May, Bass Coast councillors unanimously supported a motion to ask the State Government to buy the site for the preservation and recognition of its “environmental, cultural and coastal habitat values”.
Established by Holden in 1957, the proving ground is mostly remnant coastal forest, now rare in West Gippsland. In recent years, Holden worked with Bass Coast Landcare to manage and monitor the forest, which is home to several rare and endangered native species.
Clock ticking on Holden sale
June 12, 2020 - Coalition of environmental groups calls for urgent action to protect the rare coastal woodlands of the Holden Proving Ground.
Fast forward to 2022
April 17, 2020 - Mikhaela Barlow imagines a special day for Bass Coast – the re-opening of the community-owned Holden Proving Grounds.
Rezoning the site and putting on environmental overlays to deter prospective buyers such as sand miners is seen as key to protecting it.
Asked what would happen if a developer or sand miner bought the site, Mr O’Brien said the battle would continue to protect the last remaining significant pocket of preserved coastal forest in the whole of the Western Port Region. “Hell will freeze over before we give up the battle to save this.”
He said the first and most urgent step was to preserve the bushlands. Ultimately the group will advocate for nature link incorporating all conservation reserves and remnant bushland on the eastern side of Western Port.
The group is seeking meetings with GMH, MPs, Ministers, council, allied groups, potential benefactors, potential buyers and others.
The campaign is supported by a number of environmental and citizen groups, including the Victorian National Parks Association, Bass Coast Landcare, National Trust Bass Coast Branch, the Phillip Island Conservation Society, South Gippsland Conservation Society, Bass Coast Climate Action, the Healesville to Phillip Island Nature Link, Coronet Bay Ratepayers & Residents Association, the Tenby Point Ratepayers & Residents Association, the Westernport Swamp Landcare Group and the Cardinia Environment Coalition.
The Victorian National Parks Association is seeking government support to preserve the site as part of a wider Western Port biolink or national park.
Catherine Watson is a supporter of Save the Holden Bushlands.