Unauthorised works on the crater edge of a significant volcanic lake have been criticised by a south-west council.
The Corangamite Shire Council refused a retrospective permit for excavation works on the Lake Gnotuk crater, which is deemed an internationally significant site along with the nearby Lake Bullen Merri.
The works, which were done before council permission was sought, were inconsistent with laws aimed at protecting the lakes and crater environment and inconsistent with the landscape, the council said.
There were two objections to the works, which started early 2021 at Sadlers Road, Naroghid.
"It's disappointing that the application has come to us in a retrospective process," Cr Jo Beard said.
"After the work that's been put into protecting this significant international landscape... we're still having to work through a process of protecting that site.
"It disappoints me that we've had to come to this point... I'm not against the work itself it's just the fact that it's been done without regard to the planning scheme.
"It's certainly worth acknowledging that the significant landscape overlay is there because it's a significant piece of land and we need to protect it. We're caretakers and that's our role."
Development on the crater lakes has been an contentious issue for many years.
In 2004 further measures were introduced to protect Lake Gnotuk and Lake Bullen Merri from inappropriate development.
Applicant Dr Anna Carrucan and her husband purchased the property in 2003.
In March 2018, on St Patrick's Day, Dr Carrucan said their entire farm was burnt or fire-affected, which prompted the landscaping for fire protection and drainage works.
She said the materials used were local and would be blended into the surrounds.
"The overall appearance of the precisely contained and defined works will be softened, as described in the planning application, by extensive plantings in the vicinity of all view-lines, to screen visibility from outside the property, and enhance the amenity of the property," Dr Carrucan said.
"The terrace areas are to be landscaped in climate-resilient and low- maintenance, fire-safe species that are adapted to a Mediterranean climate.
"These plantings will integrate the contained works into the crater environs and landforms for the purposes of fire-protection, drainage mitigation, and the establishment of a low-impact, water-wise garden."
Dr Carrucan has a doctorate in botany, and is a specialist landscape ecologist and conservation practitioner.
The couple is working with the council planning department on next steps.
When asked if the matter would be referred to VCAT, Dr Carrucan said all options would be explored.
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