Earlier this week the Andrews Labor Government put an amendment before Parliament to implement its election commitment to prevent large-scale private development in national parks by removing the ability to grant 99 year leases.

This is a good move given the previous government’s interest in allowing new and potentially intrusive developments in the park system.

The following is a press release from the Minister.

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville today tabled the National Parks Amendment (No 99 Year Leases) Bill 2015 to limit the length of leases that may be granted over parks managed under the National Parks Act to a maximum of 21 years – except in three specific instances already in legislation.

The amendment recognises the importance of protecting the special environmental values of Victoria’s national parks for nature-based recreation and tourism by keeping out large scale developments that alienate areas of our parks from use by the general community for long periods.

The tabling of the amendment coincides with the release of the Valuing Victoria’s Parks report, which provides world-leading information on the value of Victoria’s parks to our communities and the economy.

Valuing Victoria’s Parks is based on best practice environmental accounting that quantifies the benefits that parks and their ecosystems provide. The report shows tourists spend $1.4 billion per year in Victoria related to their visits to parks, adding 14,000 jobs to the State’s economy.

Additionally our parks contain over one million hectares of catchments which supply water used for drinking, food production and other industries. The value of water filtration services provided by parks is estimated at $83 million per year.

Valuing Victoria’s Parks also shows that they provide important amenity for Victorian residents, with some 12,000 residences adjoining parks in Melbourne and 85,000 residences adjoining parks beyond Greater Melbourne. The value of this amenity is estimated at between $21 million and $28 million.

The Valuing Victoria’s Parks report can be found at http://www.delwp.vic.gov.au