Uriarra, Australian Capital Territory
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
|Population||300 (2013; approx.)|
Uriarra Village is a historical forestry village in the Australian Capital Territory established in 1928 at the foothills of the Australian Alps.
The settlement and surrounding forest was significantly damaged by the 2003 Canberra bushfires with 16 of the original 23 homes being destroyed. In May 2004 the ACT Government considered information on social capital, infrastructure innovation, environmental, planning and financial analysis and found that Uriarra Village should be redeveloped in a sustainable manner. Fifteen of the original families moved away from the settlement with nine choosing to remain.
In 2007 the ACT Government commenced rebuilding the settlement as a rural village, through the funding of new roads and infrastructure. In mid-2012 the settlement was officially recognised and named as a village within the ACT.
Uriarra Village is the only "community title" village in Australia. The village community independently owns and maintains village services and infrastructure including roads, community lands, the village hall, and stormwater. As such the village receives only minimal services from the ACT Government for the provision of garbage collection. The National Capital Authority advocated community title for the village after the 2003 bushfire to "promote social interaction and a shared community spirit".
Uriarra village is located about 16 km west of Canberra, and about 4 km north of the Cotter Reserve, amidst rolling hilly lands overlooking a broad creek valley.
The village is located in rural ACT off Brindabella Road that connects Canberra to Brindabella and Tumut via the Brindabella Ranges. The village sits at the foothills to the Australian Alps and to the South has views to Mount Ginini, Mount Franklin and the highest mountain in the ACT, Bimberi Peak. To the North the village faces grasslands leading towards the Molonglo River. The village "lies on the boundary between remnant Yellow box/ Red gum grassy woodland and the Uriarra and Pierces Creek pine plantations".
To the East lies Mount McDonald providing panoramic 360° views across Canberra, the Australian Alps, and rural farmlands.
Uriarra Forest to the South was destroyed in the 2003 bushfire.
Vulnerability to Bush Fires and History of Bush Fires
Due to Uriarra's bushfire history and rural location the ACT Government placed stringent development requirements on new buildings within the village. Each house has mandatory rain water storage, sewerage treatment, and firefighting systems. The village has a 300-metre fire abatement zone on three sides that is also used for horse agistment. The village has pressurised non-potable water for fire fighting purposes fed from the Bendora Gravity Main (which connects Bendora Dam with Mount Stromlo Water Treatment Plant).
Due to the remote nature of the village bushfire assistance is limited. The Lease and Development conditions for the Village highlight that "emergency response times will be longer than normal". The village maintains a 300-metre fire abatement zone to the West, East, and South. There is no fire abatement zone to the North of the village, leaving a 30-metre road reserve between the proposed solar farm site and the village.
In 2001 fires originating in Uriarra threatened the suburbs of Duffy, Holder, Weston, Yarralumla and Curtin and burnt to the shores of Lake Burley Griffin destroying 510 hectares of pine plantation. In 2003 the Canberra bushfires devastated the village destroying 16 of the original 23 homes. The village was again threatened by grass fires in 2013 when a four hectare grass fire threatened the south of the village.
Proposed Large Scale Solar Farm
On 19 August 2013 the ACT Government announced Elementus Energy had been awarded solar Feed in Tariff (FiT) rights based on a proposal to build a 7 megawatt Solar Farm less than 150 metres away from houses in Uriarra Village.   The proposal includes 26100 solar panels located in grasslands opposite the village on the northern side. The proposal was met with opposition from residents of the village with multiple letters published in local media opposing the solar farm.
On 18 September 2013 a protest against the development was staged at the ACT Legislative Assembly. The protest was followed by a motion in the Assembly to remove Minister Corbell's power to overrule the planning decision. The motion was defeated. The opposition (the Canberra Liberals) are opposed to the Elementus Energy solar development in its present proposed location. Following the dispute surrounding the Uriarra solar farm proposal the ACT Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, indicated that for future solar farm proposals ACT government would explore developing best practice guidelines regarding site selection.
An application for development approval in accordance with the Territory Plan 2008 Rural Zone Development Code has not yet been lodged with the ACT planning authority. The rural zone code permitted uses include Major Utility Installation, such as the adjacent Uriarra sewage treatment facility on Brindabella Road. The lodging of the development application has taken longer than initially expected, with Elementus Energy indicating on 23 August it could be filed in about two weeks.
The original Uriarra Forestry Camp was established in 1913-1915 on the Brindabella Road, about three kilometres from the site of the current Uriarra settlement. The camp was established for forestry workers who cleared the existing eucalypt trees and established radiata pine plantations which formed the origins of the ACT plantation forest industry.
In 1928 the Uriarra Forestry Settlement was established in its current location, in recognition of the need to permanently house the forestry workers on site, reflecting their dual role as forestry workers and also as fire surveillance officers. The census for that year showed 30 people living at the Uriarra Settlement.
The village maintains multiple heritage citations including over the historically significant school. Established in 1897 when it was conducted in the local Church of England church, it operated for ten years as a Half Time school with Ledgerton, ten miles further north. This school was located beside the road from Queanbeyan to Urriarra, which crossed the Murrumbidgee River at Uriarra Crossing. After two periods operating as a Subsidised School (1907–10 and 1920-1926), a 'new' Uriarra school opened at the Uriarra Forestry Settlement in 1936 and operated there until 2001.
A punt operated the crossing from around 1860. A bridge was constructed and officially opened on 5 October 1901. That bridge was swept away in the floods of 1922, and for a time was not to be rebuilt due to the proximity of the Cotter Bridge. A new bridge was eventually reconstructed, and opened for traffic on 28 March 1936.
Rocks from the Uriarra area are from the Silurian period. Uriarra Volcanics appear north west of the Winslade fault. It consists of dacite lava flows and pyroclastic deposits of tuff. A fine ashstone bed called Tarpaulin Creek Ashstone Member outcrops in a distorted north south line acts as a marker. Tuff and flows above and below the ashstone member contain obvious pink feldspar crystals. The tuff shows bedding, and the flows have banded flow structure. The Cotter Porphyry to the north of the Cotter Dam is actually a dacite flow. There is a limestone lens north of Uriarra Crossing. The outcrop goes from Mountain Creek Road in the west to the Murrumbidgee River in the east. It extends a few kilometers to the north of the ACT border and south to the Winslade Fault near the Cotter River. A wedge of limestone extends to the south south west including Pierces Creek.
- Gallagher, Katy (23 June 2012). "Uriarra Village celebrates naming" (Press release). ACT Government. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
- "Development Control Plan No. 171/04/0004" (RTF). Uriarra Village. National Capital Authority. p. 1. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Character test comes with Uriarra's growth". The Canberra Times. 22 January 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
- "Uriarra Village celebrates naming". Chief Ministers Department - ACT Government. 23 June 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Draft Variation to the Territory Plan No. 151 - Coree Block 5 Uriarra Rural Village" (PDF). Draft Variation to the Territory Plan No. 151 - Coree Block 5 Uriarra Rural Village. ACT Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Planning and Environment. May 2005. p. 9. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Variation to the Territory Plan No.151" (PDF). Variation to the Territory Plan No.151. ACT Planning and Land Authority. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "The Impact of a Unique Catchment on Uriarra Sewage Treatment Plant" (PDF). Water Industry Operators Association of Australia. 9 April 2013. p. 2. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Uriarra Rural Village Lease and Development Conditions" (PDF). ACT Government. 26 August 2008. p. 36. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "History of Bushfires". ACT Emergency Services Agency. 6 September 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Firefighters Battle Uriarra Blaze". City News. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Canberra's Renewable Energy Future: New Solar Farms Announced" (PDF). Environment ACT. 19 August 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Uriarra Village - proposed solar farm motion and petition" (PDF). ACT Legislative Assembly. 18 September 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "Uriarra residents pleased over potential switch to solar farm site". 2CA News Canberra. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "Solar farm move could mean higher power prices". ABC News. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- "OneSun Capital Australian Capital Territory". Elementus Energy. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- Residents angry about solar farm plans. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Motion picture). 26 August 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Burnt by the sun: rural residents blindsided by proposal for solar farm". Canberra Times. 22 September 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "Canberra Time Letters to The Editor - Corbell Interference". Canberra Times. 12 September 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "Canberra Time Letters to The Editor - Thin end of the wedge". Canberra Times. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "Canberra Time Letters to The Editor - Solar plan based on flawed process". Canberra Times. 7 September 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "Canberra Time Letters to The Editor - Concern about values outweighs the view". Canberra Times. 9 September 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "Consultation process questioned for Uriarra solar farm". ABC news. 18 September 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 11 Hansard 18 September". ACT Legislative Assembly. 18 September 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "Canberra Liberals call for rethink on location of large-scale solar at Uriarra". Canberra Liberals (Press release). 11 September 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "talks may pave way to move solar farm". Canberra Times. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- "Company behind Uriarra solar farm plan hires PR firm to win debate". Canberra Times. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- "Heritage Decision about Provisional Registration of the Uriarra Forestry Settlement, Coree Notice 2011" (PDF). Environment ACT. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "Uriarra School". Hall School Museum. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- "URIARRA BRIDGE OPENING". Queanbeyan Age. 28 September 1901. p. 2. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
- "Uriarra Bridge". Queanbeyan Age and Queanbeyan Observer. 14 November 1922. p. 4.
- "URIARRA BRIDGE TO BE OPENED NEXT WEEK". The Canberra Times. 25 March 1936.
- Henderson, G. A. M; Matveev, G (1980). Geology of Canberra (Map). Queanbeyan and Environs 1:50000.