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Midway Plantations Pty Ltd/Macquarie Bank (Beaufort/Buangor Region)

Google Earth image April 2001: This region was increasingly being targeted by bluegum companies, with over 3000 ha being established after 2001.

April 2006: Extent of plantations in the vicinity of Buangor (west Vic). The Yellow represents blue gum plantations owned by Midway/Macquarie Bank, and Enviroinvest. The purple represents pine plantations owned by Hancock Victorian Plantations.

April 06: Midways have started targeting the Mount Cole Creek catchment, which feeds into the Wimmera River system. This photo is located north of the village of Warrak. More plantations in this catchment will lead to reductions in streamflow.

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Gum Plantation causes concern. Tuesday November 15, 2005. Ararat Standard

A Buangor couple who operate a small organic vineyard are devastated that a company has purchased land nearby for the purpose of growing bluegums.

The plantation is proposed by Midway Plantations, which recently purchased land in the area.

*** *** and *** ***'s seven acre organic vineyard is situated at the base of Mount Gorrinn/Mount Langi Ghiran, off Colonial Road, and they are concerned that companies such as Midway Plantations are able to develop land without any checks or controls.

Ms *** said because the land is zones for farming (rural zone) no planning permits are required.

She said the plantations are classed as farming and the company is able to develop the property any way it sees fit, including using chemicals for the eradication of weeds and pests.

The vineyard is seperated from the proposed 500 acre block, half of which will be planted out as a bluegum plantation, by just 60 metres.

Ms *** said there are eight landholders in the vicinity of the proposed bluegum plantation, most of whom believe the area is unsuitable.

According to Ms *** the hilly blocks of land are also heavily treed.

Although the couple's organic vineyard is not certified, the family follows an organic way of life.

"We haven't had it certified because we are not in it for monetary gain. It's just our philosophy and our way of life," Ms *** said.

"There hasn't been a chemical near the place for 15 years.

"Aerial spraying would be an absolute disaster, but ground spraying is just as bad, you still cannot guarantee spray drift won't occur.

Ms *** said with a turnover of around 10 to 15 years, she is also concerned with the volume of logging trucks that might use the narrow roads in the area.

She said the area also forms the headlands of the Mount Cole Creek, which supplies towns such as Warrak with their water supply.

"There are just so many issues," she said.

If enough concern is shown by people in the area Ms *** and Mr *** will call for a public meeting.

"What we are hoping for is that an Environmental Impact Statement will be done on the area and that this will show that the area is unsuitable for bluegum plantations," Ms ***said.

Although Ms *** said that aerial spraying was intended to take place on November 4, but was suspended, Midways Plantations' Afforestation Manager Steve Walker said there was never any intention to aerial spray the site, but some ground spraying did take place.

In reference to the threat of spray drift, Mr Walker said that Midway Plantations works with the weather conditions.

"We will only spray when the weather conditions are suitable," he said.

Mr Walker said if there was the potential for spray drift Midway would make sure it drifted away from the vineyard instead.

Ms *** and Mr *** said they have also been told by Midway that it will notify them in advance if any ground spraying is to take place so that they can monitor any potential spray drift.

Feb 06: Hundreds of hectares of grassland/pasture is being targeted between Warrak and Buangor in the north flowing Mount Cole Creek catchment and south flowing Fiery Creek catchment.

Feb 06: More Midways plantations on the western side of Mount Cole in the headwaters Mount Cole Creek catchment just north of the Divide.

Feb 06: Other bluegum companies are targeting the Hopkins River catchment. This particular plantation lies just west of Mount Langi Ghiran and covers about 900 hectares in size.

Feb 06: More controversial Midway ripping of ex-farmland in the Mount Cole Creek catchment.

April 06: Midways have started targeting the Mount Cole Creek catchment, which feeds into the Wimmera River system. Mount Langhi Ghiran in background. Note mounding which is deliberately targeting rainfall which falls onto the site, thereby reducing streamflow. These mounds will be targeted with herbicides in the first two years of the plantation. Herbicides will also be used between the mounds.

April 06: Over 1000 hectares of farmland in the Mount Cole catchment has been targeted by Midway Plantations in the past year. These plantations will reduce streamflow into Mount Cole Creek by about 1 Gigalitre per year. Mount Cole Creek is located in the headwaters of the Wimmera River catchment.

Feb 06: Fiery Creek photo taken north of Streatham. The Fiery Creek catchment now has about 3700 hectares of plantations in its upper catchment. Almost 90% of these plantations are bluegum under the age of 5 years old. We have estimated that water yield will significantly decrease in the Fiery Creek catchment due to these plantations until 2011/2012, when plantations may use approximately 4200 ML per annum (ML=Megalitre=1 million litres) more water than when the land was being grazed. Depending on rainfall, the water yield should then increase significantly in 2012/13, ( if the mass of bluegum located west of Beaufort is logged on a 10 year rotation). However we estimate that by 2021/22 current plantations (established up to Feb 2006) in the Fiery Creek catchment, will consume over 5000 ML of water, more than the pasture they replaced, before decreasing again in 2022/23 when the plantations are likely to be logged. Lake Bolac is already suffering from low flows and eels deaths in 2005 and 2006. How will the planting out of thousands of hectares of bluegum in the upper catchment improve the water yield situation in Lake Bolac?

April 2006: Land marked yellow is new bluegum plantations. Land marked in blue drains into Lake Bolac and is sourced from Fiery Creek and tributaries. Land draining to the north eventually feeds into the Wimmera River. Land draining west feeds into the Hopkins River.

April 2006: Fiery Creek catchment and approximate boundary of northern Lake Bolac catchment.

March 2008: Lake Bolac looking northeast into headwaters of Fiery Creek system, Mount Cole on right.

March 2008: Low flows into Lake Bolac won't be helped by new bluegum plantations near the headwaters.

March 2008: Lake Bolac Eel Festival.

April 2006: Ben Nevis in Mount Cole State Forest. Midway Plantations is targeting the Wimmera River catchment in the past year.

June 06: Tributary of Burnbank Creek (HW of Loddon River Catchment) a few kilometres south of the town of Lexton. This drainage line is crossed by a vehicle track, however the main concern is the amount of erosion occurring on this degraded farmland site. The plantation is a better option than continuing to have stock walking through the drainage line, however the erosion is so bad that it will not rectify itself unless the company plants out the worst affected sites.