MinterEllison advises on Australia's largest mountain bike destination, in the heart of the iconic Yarra Ranges

2 minute read  11.11.2022

Leading law firm MinterEllison has assisted Yarra Ranges Council to secure key approvals for the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination, set to be a world-class mountain bike facility and a key economic driver for the region.

The Warburton Mountain Bike Destination is a network of trails nestled among mountains surrounding Warburton, within State Forest and National Park. The Project is intended to bring visitors from across the world to experience Warburton’s natural beauty and relaxing village atmosphere. The Project was designed to set a new benchmark in environmental protection, management and performance for mountain bike trails, and to encourage an inclusive and family-orientated atmosphere.

The Project was required to prepare an Environment Effects Statement (EES), which totalled over 3,500 pages in length and detailed the environmental, social and economic effects of the Project. The EES went on public exhibition in late 2021, with over 2,700 submissions being received.

The Project was then examined by an independent Inquiry and Advisory Committee, who was tasked with providing an integrated assessment of the environmental effects of the Project.

Over the course of a public hearing lasting for 15 days, the Inquiry and Advisory Committee considered expert evidence and submissions covering a broad spectrum of issues, including the appropriate use of national parks and protected water supply catchments; potential impacts on a range of threatened species, habitats and other biodiversity values; bushfire and traffic management; and a complex planning and statutory framework designed to protect the unique values within the upper Yarra region.

Following the conclusion of the hearing, the Inquiry and Advisory Committee reported to the Minister for Planning, and on 28 October 2022 the Minister gave the green light for the Project to proceed, finding that the Project's potential environmental effects and risks are acceptable (subject to certain modifications).

The Project will create a world-class mountain bike destination and the largest in Australia, comprising over 160km of trails throughout the Yarra Ranges National Park, Woi Wurrung State Forest and Yarra State Forest.

MinterEllison is proud to have advised Yarra Ranges Council throughout the public hearing process, including navigating a myriad of complex issues associated with the Project. Lead partner Joshua Dellios said "It's a real honour to be able to work with Council to unlock opportunities for people of all experience levels to explore the natural wonder and beauty of the upper Yarra region. I firmly believe that the Project will have a meaningful impact on building society's connection with nature and creating a more sustainable world."

"This Project means a lot to people both in Warburton and in the broader mountain biking community," said Matt Harrington, Executive Project Manager at Yarra Ranges Council. "I want to extend my thanks to MinterEllison for being a true partner to myself and my team throughout the Inquiry and Advisory Committee process, and helping us get to where we are now. The MinterEllison team's ability to navigate and drill down to the heart of complex issues, and perform under tight timeframes, has allowed us to realise our vision of bringing this world-class mountain bike project to life."

The successful outcome opens the door for Council to proceed with obtaining the necessary statutory approvals for the Project to commence.

MinterEllison Partner Josh Dellios and Dani Davidovits, lawyer, advised and represented Council.

Visit Warburton Mountain Bike Destination to learn more about the project or the Minister's assessment.

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