Community members from the Broulee area came our in force today, 150 in total, to express their opposition to the Eurobodalla Shire Council's proposed Rural Lands Strategy (ERLS), at a community meeting at the Captain Oldrey Park Community Hall.
Linda Chapman (above) began by placing the ERLS within the bigger context of the significant challenges posed to the whole environment by climate change and the problem of deforestation and biodiversity loss globally. She then noted that Australia has a very poor record on biodiversity loss with many species at threat.
"In NSW, a recent WWF report says, we are losing 10 million native animals a year due to the change of legislation by the NSW state government that allows for more native vegetation clearing." “It is within this bigger picture that we must consider all of our environmental practices”, Linda said, “we must take biodiversity seriously”. Linda then went on to ‘join the dots’ at the very local level pointing to new sub-divisions in Broulee, which have seen extensive clearing of the remaining Bangalay sand forest, the proposed extension of Captain Oldrey Park, and those developments in the pipe line at Oaks Ranch, Tomakin and Rosedale suggesting the cumulative effect of this development together with the local effect of the RLS will significantly change the nature of just this one area in our shire. "This Rural Lands Strategy is really a Local Environment Plan for the whole shire", she said. "One of the examples of its consequences is the Swamp She-Oak Forest, which is an Endangered Ecological Community (EEC), along George Bass Drive at Mossy Point. This land should not be developed however under the re-zoning and minimum lots size reduction proposed by the RLS it would see 19-20 dwellings on it”, she told the meeting. Linda suggested that a vision for the shire might be to focus development in the town centres to grow vibrant and interesting communities and associated economy whilst retaining the natural environment of the bush and beaches that people will more and more want to experience as the world sees further environmental degradation.
Barbara Roberts, President of Coastwatchers, outlined how their organisation had been engaged for six years in the RLS trying to stop inappropriate development of the Eurobodalla. Mrs Roberts said “The current RLS will be highly destructive to our nature coast and will impact adversely wetlands, waterways and the ocean”.
Kathryn Maxwell, Chair of SHASA, said “in a meeting with the Department of Planning, in Wollongong, we were informed that Council's plan had raised eyebrows with Planning because it is the only Shire to receive objections from six state agencies”.
Over 80 people signed letters to the MP for Bega, Andrew Constance and the Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts requesting that they reject the Council's proposed RLS - new Local Environment Plan.
It was a very respectful meeting and the Mayor asked for and was given right of reply but as people left and signed letters the feedback was that they were unconvinced by the Mayor's defence of the RLS.
Leanne Atkinson, ALP Candidate for Bega, attended and gave a commitment to take the concerns raised by community members back to the Labor Party and in particular to the Shadow Minister for Planning and the Shadow Minister for Primary Industries.