Thursday, May 30, 2024

Latrobe council to close caravan park over public health concerns

Latrobe City Council says it has made the “difficult decision” to close Lake Narracan Caravan Park citing public health and environmental concerns.

The park will be closed from 10 December, Council confirmed today.

“As part of the decision-making process, Latrobe City Council committed to invest in a business case to establish a new purpose-built caravan park at Lake Narracan as part of the existing Lake Narracan Precinct Structure Plan,” it said.

“Council believes the Lake Narracan precinct provides a great investment opportunity and is committed to working through the business case process.”

Council says it made the “challenging decision” to close the park at its September meeting, following an extensive investigation process to find solutions to the ongoing challenges caused by ageing wastewater infrastructure, resulting in non-compliance with the Environment Protection Act 2017. 

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) issued Council with two Notice of Improvements relating to stormwater and wastewater management at the caravan park in October 2021.  

The notices required Council to modify its stormwater and wastewater management systems to remove the risk of untreated wastewater entering the nearby roadside drainage system and then into the waterway. 

Further investigation and advice from independent environmental engineering consultants, outlined that achieving full compliance would be highly complex and would require significant investment due to the age and condition of the existing infrastructure, which has been in place since the early 1990s. 

Council says it also considered the option of increasing the cost to site holders however the increase for cost recovery over four years would have resulted in an annual increase of $5,300, a 400% increase, for the next four years. This option was considered cost prohibitive for site holders, it said.

Latrobe City Council Chief Executive Officer, Steven Piasente said Council had explored all feasible options to address the impacts of the failed wastewater infrastructure issues before deciding to close the park.  

“This decision was not made lightly and follows significant consideration by Council to explore all possible options in consultation with the EPA and independent environmental engineering consultants,” said Mr Piasente. 

“In order to address the environmental concerns, it would have required significant increases in waste treatment infrastructure, as well as excavating large portions of the caravan park to install relevant drainage, at a significant cost to the community.  

“Council understands how valued the caravan park is and understands this news will be met with frustration, however, we must put the health of this valued waterway and recreational asset first and consider other options. 

“Council is committed to driving the future plans for Lake Narracan, identified in the Precinct Structure Plan, which includes the opportunity to develop a destination caravan park and has financially committed to the investment of a business case.” 

At its Monday meeting, Council resolved to provisionally allocate $1.5 million to connect the Lake Narracan Foreshore Precinct to the waste treatment plant.  

Council says it will work closely with the Park Managers and licence holders over the coming months, leading up to and following the closure of the park.  

All licence holders have been contacted and will not be charged for the 2022/23 site fees, it said.  

More information can be found on the Latrobe City Council website.

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