Councils in rural and regional areas and those on the metropolitan fringe will share in a $7.8 million Victorian Coalition Government program to help control roadside weeds and pest animals.
Launching the Roadside Weeds and Pests Program (RWPP) in Bendigo today, Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell said the funding would help 56 councils tackle weeds and rabbits along almost 100,000 kilometres of local roads.
"Each of the 56 councils with responsibilities for rural roads will receive a share of the funding, up to $50,000 per council each year, based on the length of the roads they manage," Mrs Powell said.
"For example, here in the City of Greater Bendigo where there is a significant road network we will provide $148,530 for the three years of the program.
"The funding has been set for each of the three financial years of the program to make it easier for councils to budget and plan control activities that meet their needs.
"This is another example of the Coalition Government providing certainty for councils that are managing competing priorities on tightening budgets."
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the cost of weeds alone to agriculture was estimated to be about $1.2 billion annually.
"Pest plants and animals threaten the environment and can damage agricultural production and many communities look to their council to lead the effort to reduce them," Mr Walsh said.
"The Coalition Government accepts the recommendation of the Bailey Report on Roadside Weeds and Pests that councils are best placed to control weeds and rabbits on local roadsides.
"The $7.8 million Roadside Weeds and Pests Program will support councils to plan and implement control activities for the long-term management of regionally prohibited and regionally controlled plants and animals on rural roadsides," Mr Walsh said.Participating councils will be required to use their annual funding allocation to implement an approved Roadside Weed and Rabbit Control Plan, to be submitted before June 2013.