A memorandum of understanding between the University of Melbourne and the Andrews Government has unlocked $2.1 million in Federal funding to establish a marine research centre in the heritage buildings at Point Nepean.
The agreement is to establish a National Centre for Coasts and Climate (NCCC) on the site of the Old Quarantine Station, subject to the current State Government master planning process.
The MOU clearly identifies that any proposal is still subject to the community consultation process that will inform the Point Nepean Master Plan.
This significant step in the process allows the Federal Government to commit $2.1 million to the research centre proposal.
Utilising existing buildings on the site, the Centre would undertake research on coastal ecology and management, as well as delivering teaching in those areas.
The University also hopes to establish a Coastal Discovery Centre, showcasing this research and contributing to greater public understanding of the ecological and cultural treasures of Point Nepean.
Once the Master Plan is adopted, the Victorian Government would then accept proposals for potential uses for the site.
The MOU, signed between the state of Victoria and the University of Melbourne, defines an agreement between the two parties to identify the scope of the proposal by the University for a marine and coastal research centre to be located at Point Nepean.
Victorian Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville said the MOU, signed between the Andrews Government and the University of Melbourne, clearly identifies that any proposal is still subject to the community consultation process undertaken by Parks Victoria that will inform the Point Nepean Master Plan that is currently underway.
“Today’s agreement does not pre-empt the outcome of this but acknowledges Melbourne University as the preferred occupier of a section of the old Quarantine Station,” Ms Neville said.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt said that the $2.1 million dollars of research funding made available for the Centre was part of the National Environmental Science Programme.
“This funding will enable the NCCC to pursue research focusing on carbon accumulation rates in coastal vegetated habitats (known as blue carbon), coastal erosion and coastal revegetation,” Mr Hunt said.
“This initiative is intended to position the NCCC as a world-class research facility into the threats and opportunities presented by climate change in the coastal zone.
“The old Quarantine Station’s empty buildings are an ideal location for this research centre. It will allow for the adaptive re-use and ongoing care of some of the site’s nationally-significant heritage precinct.”
Mr Hunt said the NCCC would be a partner in the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub under the National Environmental Science Programme.
University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis said the University was happy to be moving forward with more active discussions about its plans for the site.
“The Point Nepean National Park provides a unique place-based learning and research environment,” Professor Davis said.
“The University hopes to contribute to the future of the Park, and looks forward to working with Government and with the community in exploring this development."