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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Council: Not required to so it ain't our banana

Next Tuesday's Ordinary Council meeting isn't so ordinary. Councillor Patrick McGinlay has put a few questions on notice that might be of interest Firstly he offers some Background Assumptions: 1. Eurobodalla Shire Council voted to send its LEP Rural Lands Strategy component (referred to as ‘Deferred Matters Areas’) to the Minister for Planning, The Hon Anthony Roberts for final appraisal and gazettal. 2. The Deferred Matters Areas comprise some 38,000ha of land (26,600 ha of which is forested) which might possibly be impacted by planning changes including the removal of or modification to environmental protections (E3 and E2 lands). 3. Additionally, existing RU1 and RU4 areas of some 32,000ha will also be granted substantial increases in allowable uses (+60% and +140% respectively). 4. Changes to land uses resulting from the Rural Lands Strategy will inevitably release Carbon into the atmosphere, through land clearing, loss of forest, expansion of grazing activities etc. For example, with regard to Carbon sequestration capabilities alone, if only 10% of forest is lost from the Deferred Matters Areas, some 24,000 tonnes of C sequestration capacity per year will be lost (at 2.5 g/M2/day ref: This is at the bottom end of suggested losses, and also does not incorporate Carbon mobilisation through loss of forest itself, nor disturbance to previously protected rural lands, wetlands and riparian zones from cattle grazing and other new uses. His questions are: Questions Q1. Has Council prepared a Carbon Audit for the potential release of Carbon (as Carbon Dioxide or Methane) from the potential new land-use types and intensities in the Deferred Matters Areas and in the existing RU1 and RU4 zones? Council Response: Q1 No. There is no requirement for councils to undertake a Carbon Audit when preparing planning proposals.​ Q2. Will Council make this Carbon Audit available to councillors and the general public? Please detail timing and method of release. Council Response: Q2 There is no audit to make available. Q3. If Council has not prepared such a Carbon Audit why has it not done so given the possibility of significant changes to land-use patterns in much of the Shire’s rural lands as a result of the RLS? Will it undertake to do so? Council Response: Q3 Council has not prepared such an assessment as it is not required to be prepared as part of the planning process set out by the NSW Government. Further, significant changes to land use patterns are not expected as a result of the Rural Lands Strategy or proposed amendments to the LEP which seek to implement the strategic direction adopted by Council following significant community consultation. It would be impossible to make assumptions with any degree of accuracy as to the nature, location, and timing of any proposed development or if any land clearing would in fact be required to facilitate such development. It is not proposed, nor would it be recommended that Council undertake an assessment or audit of the nature referred, as it is not a requirement of the planning process and could not be undertaken with any degree of accuracy for the reasons identified above. Such an assessment would therefore be of little to no credible value and subsequently a waste of resources. Q5. What Carbon offsets has Council already set in place or has proposed to set in place to deal with these new Carbon emissions? Please specify the offsets proposed, the amount of Carbon they will sequester and all expert advice as to how they were formulated and calculations made, locations, budgets and completion schedules. Council Response: Q5 (note there is no Q4) Council has not set aside any carbon offsets. There is no requirement for Council to offset any carbon emissions that may be caused by potential future development, and as outlined above, it would not be feasible to undertake an assessment of potential emissions with any degree of accuracy. Q6. What is the value of revenue foregone by not protecting these lands from development in terms of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ref: Australian Government Clean Energy Regulator The current price (22/02/19) is $15.25 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent ((tCO2-e) ref: Council Response: Q6 It is impossible to calculate such value for the reasons outlined in response to Q3. In addition to responding to the questions, it is appropriate to correct some statements made under ‘Background’:  The planning proposal does not propose to remove E3 zoned lands. There is no land currently zoned E3 within the Eurobodalla LGA. Protected lands such as wetlands and riparian areas remain protected under the SEPP. This doe not change.  It is important to note that Clause 3.3 within the Eurobodalla LEP will continue to protect environmentally sensitive areas, ensuring that any exempt and complying development in these areas not be carried out. The RECOMMENDATION is THAT the response to the question regarding Carbon Audit raised by Councillor Patrick McGinlay be received and noted.

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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