‘Common sense’ saves Westgate Park

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MELBOURNE Water has withdrawn its plans to build an air treatment plant at Westgate Park.

The plant will instead be built on neighbouring Port of Melbourne land in a move hailed as a win for a community group that spent 12 years revegetating the park.

However, Friends of Westgate Park is only half celebrating – as it has just discovered the park’s south-east corner is slated to be turned into the link road between the new Webb Dock development and the M1 freeway.

The group, which revegetated the park with native plants and said 129 bird species, three frog species, long-neck turtles and tiger snakes now lived there, said it was good that “common sense prevailed”.

“Our group is getting sick and tired of land grabs,” vice president Tony Flude said.

He said parts of the park had also been acquired for a go-kart track in the 1990s, by Port of Melbourne for a shipping berth that never eventuated, and more recently by VicRoads for easement under the bridge.

The air treatment plant, which would have taken 1500 square metres of Westgate Park to treat odours released from ageing Eastern Drop Structure pipelines, was fiercely protested by Albert Park MP Martin Foley.

Environment Minister Ryan Smith said he rejected Melbourne Water’s application as the Port of Melbourne had offered to accommodate the plant.

Mr Smith’s Spokeswoman Emily Broadbent said he also recognised Friends of Westgate Park and Parks Victoria’s “outstanding rehabilitation results with planting and restoring native vegetation”.

Melbourne Water asset planning general manager Paul Pretto said work on the plant would begin in June and would be finished within 18 months.

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