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Council meeting gets off to a confronting start over Carbon and the RLEP

For what looked to be a short agenda the Tuesday March 12th Ordinary meeting of Eurobodalla Council wasn't so ordinary. On the agenda was a Question on Notice regarding Council undertaking a Carbon Audit. the Question on Notice was raised by Councillor Pat McGinlay, focused around changes to land uses resulting from the Rural Lands Strategy that members of the community believe will inevitably release Carbon into the atmosphere, through land clearing, loss of forest, expansion of grazing activities etc In the background to his question he offers that, "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)" Prior to the item being discussed by councillors Katheryn Maxwell address the Councillors in Public Forum

AUDIO: Kathryn Maxwell presenting at Eurobodalla Council Public Forum March 12th 2019 Recorded and published under Fair Dealing for the purpose of news Councillor Mayne asked Councillor McGinlay "what prompted your thing to bring this question on notice into the council chamber?" McGinlay responded in part, "The whole point of a carbon audit was bought to me by the general public. "this council, at our level of government, should be taking whatever action it can to look long term into the future and take due note of the overriding issue of climate change." "I was recently at an Australian Coastal Council's conference whee it was very apparent that all the speakers with scientific background uniformally mentioned climate change as something councils have to be aware of in thinking about and planning for. "This Council, in looking at the Rural Lands Strategy maybe should be looking outside the square, maybe looking a lot further into the future. "One of the future tick boxes should be 'How will this decision, if we make it, impacts on climate change which impacts on all of our community'". The questions raised by Councillor McGinlay were: 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 written 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 written 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 written 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 written 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 . The current price (22/02/19) is $15.25 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent ((tCO2-e) Council written 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.

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