Coal land to be opened for new developments

Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing says three new parcels of land will have their coal overlays lifted to make way for new businesses and developments in the region. file photograph

Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing says three new parcels of land will have their coal overlays lifted to make way for new businesses and developments in the region. file photograph

Parcels of land previously reserved for coal will be made available for industrial and economic developments with the state government expected to announce the abolishment of coal protection overlays today.

Three parcels of land near Firmins Lane south of Morwell, west of Yinnar and a section in the Gormandale Flora Reserve have been deemed to have little or no useable coal resources and will be opened up for new businesses and developments in the region.

The land was safeguarded in the late 1980s to protect coal resources for potential additional power stations and industries reliant on the resource that never came to fruition.

Thirty areas across the Latrobe City and Wellington municipalities are being reviewed by the planning minister in a move expected to fast-track regional development should the safeguards be lifted.

It comes on the same day the state government will announce a Growing Regional Opportunities for Work (GROW) initiative which they say will create jobs and drive local business.

The review into coal overlays, however, will ensure reviewed land is fit for purpose and supports the development of the region's key industries.

"This is about modernising planning provisions in the Valley, to support the future growth and economic development of the region," Minister for Planning Richard Wynne said.

The parcels of land include more than 17 square kilometres along Firmins Lane, 880 square metres west of Yinnar and 320 square metres in the Gormandale Flora Reserve, pending approval from the minister.

The review was part of the government's Statement on Future Uses of Brown Coal strategy funded in the impending state budget.

"These changes will attract new businesses and industries and support the Valley's continued transition to a new economy," Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said.

The announcement comes on top of a visit from the Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford who will announce $750,000 for the Latrobe Valley Authority to establish the GROW initiative in Gippsland.

Under the initiative, local businesses, government, community organisations and individuals will be brought together to address disadvantage and high unemployment across the Latrobe Valley.

The aim is to encourage local businesses to use local products and services providing options for jobseekers and is similar to an initiative in Geelong rolled out in 2013 which now consists of more than 80 local businesses and organisations.

Eighty jobs have been created following its rollout at Geelong and led to a shift in local spending valued at $20 million.

Ms Pulford said the Gippsland-based initiative already had 19 participants with more expected to sign up in the coming months.

"Gippsland GROW will boost employment through a partnership of organisations and businesses that buy and use local so more people can find a job," Ms Pulford said.

The project deals with the known correlation between unemployment and disadvantage which aims to improve social and economic development by supporting regional business, facilitating procurement policies for target communities and encouraging local supplier involvement.

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