THE approval of a 27-hole golf course on the cusp of one of Melbourne's drinking supply catchments has raised fears that pesticides may affect water quality.
Yarra Ranges Council last month approved the $49 million Eastern Golf Club development at Yering, citing tourism as a major factor in its decision. The vote ends more than two years of wrangling between the council, club, residents and environment groups.
The site is on a flood plain and close to Yering Gorge, which is part of the Melbourne water supply.
Friends of the Earth spokesman Anthony Amis said about 30 pesticides would be used on the site and the group held fears that these could make their way into the water supply.
"We also have major concerns about hundreds of hectares of topsoil being exposed on a flood plain during construction of the course, which could take over two years to complete," he said.
Melbourne Water and the Environment Protection Authority have both approved the development and included a slew of strict conditions.
Eastern Golf Club general manager Benjamin Telley said the development would include "genuine environment improvements" including an 11-hectare wetland system. He said all pesticide use had been approved.
He said Mr Amis's comments were a "cheap scare tactic" and displayed a "lack of respect" to Melbourne Water and EPA.
University of Melbourne urban planner David Nichols said constructing and maintaining a golf course was an "environmentally unfriendly process".
The council had first approved the golf course in 2010 but it was knocked back by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal after several community groups appealed against the decision.
The VCAT refusal was based on concerns about public safety in the event of a flood and the impact of buildings and works within a flood plain.
The new application addressed these issues by including raised emergency access points. The club also completed a human health and ecological risk assessment.