The Painkalac Valley is a defining feature of Aireys Inlet and love for the valley is something that unites our community.
Since 1983, AIDA has surveyed the attitudes of its members and other residents. The most recent survey, in 2015, was consistent with earlier surveys in demonstrating the deep attachment respondents have to the Painkalac Valley and their clear opposition (over 75%) to built development on it.
As you will know, the privately owned valley land has been actively marketed over the past six months and this has raised concerns for some AIDA members and the committee as they wonder what this might mean.
Given the community’s passion for the valley, we started thinking about whether it would be possible for it to be brought into public ownership and over the past few months the AIDA committee has been exploring whether this could be achieved through a public fundraising campaign.
We have discussed the idea with ANGAIR, Trust for Nature, the shire and others, as well as with some people in the community.
Given this talk, some of you may have heard that there is community interest in fundraising to purchase the Painkalac Valley land to hold it in public ownership.
The aim would be to protect its values in perpetuity and to progressively return its wetlands to their natural state, as has been achieved for the neighbouring Painkalac Nature Reserve, which was grazed until 1972.
This would need to be a broad-based community campaign, and over the past few weeks members of the AIDA and ANGAIR committees have been meeting to discuss the concept and the complexity of issues this raises. There are legal and financial challenges. There is much we need to learn and we want to understand the needs of its current use for the agistment of horses.
The issues are challenging and complex and we haven’t yet had any meaningful discussions with the owner.
However, the idea needs to be more widely known so it can be discussed and progressed – should this be possible. While all those involved to date are enthusiastic, we recognise we might not succeed.
At this stage AIDA and ANGAIR have agreed that the best way to carry the idea forward is a new group that invites involvement from the wider community. They have suggested this will be called The Painkalac Project.
The idea of having a public fundraising campaign to purchase the Painkalac valley land was raised in AIDA’s April 2016 newsletter. The aim would be to hold the valley
in public ownership and to progressively return the wetlands to their natural state.
Since that newsletter was published, AIDA and ANGAIR have joined forces and formed
a new incorporated association, The Painkalac Project (TPP), to carry the idea forward. TPP committee, which has AIDA, ANGAIR and community members, has been meeting to discuss the challenging issues the idea raises.
We have secured the support of Trust for Nature, which considers TPP a very worthwhile conservation project. However, there are some significant issues that need to be resolved before we can progress further.
In the meantime TPP is gaining a better understanding of the challenges and possible funding sources.