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Usher response to OEH concerns regarding development in the Eurobodalla

During the less than Ordinary Eurobodalla Council meeting of Tuesday March 12th, whilst discussing concerns around a development at Mossy Point and having heard from Mr David Grice speaking to the issue (presentation below) earlier in Public Forum, the Mayor turned to the Director of Planning, Lindsay Usher, and asked " If we were to take on board and react to every recommendation from OEH in your view would we see enough land release or enough development to house these new members of our community.... ?".

Audio: Mayor Liz Innes asking a question of Director of Planning Lindsay Usher at Eurobodalla Shire Council Tuesday March 12th 2019 Recorded and published under Fair Dealing for the purpose of news

Presentation by David Grice on Mossy Point DA508/17 QON

Audio: David Grice presenting to the Public Forum of Eurobodalla Shire Council Tuesday March 12th 2019 Recorded and published under Fair Dealing for the purpose of news

My name is David Grice and I will address the Mossy Point DA508/17 QON

OEH described the subject land as a rare coastal remnant in a natural condition that lies in an extremely sensitive location. The land was seen as unsuitable for development due to its conservation and wetland buffer values. The site has a large intact area of Bangalay Sand Forest Endangered Ecological Community (EEC) and is in close proximity to a large SEPP 14 Wetland No. 187. (State Environmental Planning Policy No 14—Coastal Wetlands)

OEH (8 May 2017) states that “the dwelling site currently chosen maximises the environmental impacts associated with the dwelling siting, bushfire asset protection zone and associated roads and infrastructure.” This was not accepted by Council.

OEH (8 May 2017) states that “the best building site [is] on land close by Annetts Parade and the existing Mossy Point residential zoning.” OEH suggests if this site was chosen then “There is more scope to minimise impacts, avoid the EEC vegetation and avoid construction of a long access road (over 600 metres) and connect directly to existing services in this location.” This was not accepted by Council.

OEH (8 May 2017) has continually reiterated its objection to the clearing of any EEC on the land. This was not accepted by Council.

OEH (8 May 2017) “noted that a Dwelling House is a prohibited use in E2 Conservation Zones and it was hard to see how the planning amendment can now proceed ”. This was not accepted by Council.

OEH (8 May 2017 and 22 June 2018) has expressed concern that the loss of 1 to 2 hectare of intact Bangalay Sand Forest EEC is a substantial loss to a 13 hectare remnant patch. This was not accepted by Council. In terms of essential understorey habitat, the clearing of this habitat component would be at least double that. (with a NSW average sized new home (ABS 2010)) for a recommended 50m APZ – with sheds it would be even greater.)

OEH (8 May 2017) states “There is no consideration of the indirect impacts of allowing the dwelling to be built. A dwelling increases the potential for impacts such as introduced weeds and domestic animals.” OEH states that introduced dogs and cats have the potential to significantly impact on a population of the vulnerable White-footed dunnart. This was not accepted by Council.

On the basis of all the above, OEH strongly objected to the development in 1992, 1997, July 2016, 8 May 2017, and 22 June 2018. The 2018 documents state: “Given that none of the changes that we suggested in our 2016 submission on this planning proposal have been adopted, we still retain a number of objections to the proposal.”

The Council’s response to the Question on Notice contains a large number of troubling disclosures. For a start, the council response failed to mention the continuing 2017 and 2018 OEH strong objections. I want to stress that council staff are doing an admirable job in the confronting circumstances they find themselves in, and I in no way want to criticise individuals. I criticise the process, not the staff.

The Council’s response indicated that after the numerous times of continuous strong objections by OEH, … that an amended proposal was received sometime in 2018.

The Council then states that: “The revised assessment addressed the concerns raised by OEH and concluded that the impacts were not significant, and therefore no grounds to refuse the Development Application.” I call on council to provide evidence of this from OEH.

How can anyone have confidence in the DA process protecting sensitive areas?

The Rural Lands Strategy involves upto an 170% increase in the number of possible land uses (1(a1) to RU1) and is implemented on 23% of the shire. How will the DA process be monitored in more remote locations when this blatant disregard of impacts is allowed to happen in the well observed Mossy Point area?

We were continually told during the RLS briefings that the DA would address destructive impact concerns expressed by the community and 6 government agencies. The Mossy Point example and the Long Beach examples show this is not true.

The Council states “The advice from OEH was not ignored.” It is plainly obvious to anyone that the OEH advice was not accepted. The OEH objections are so strong that no development in the chosen area of construction would be possible. In anyone’s common understanding -- not accepting the advice from the highly experienced subject-matter state agency experts with an accumulated knowledge base of hundreds of years of research, understanding and experience … is in fact ignoring and disregarding that advice. All this knowledge is put up against one accredited assessor. Council needs to provide evidence from OEH that OEH now considers their concerns have been addressed – as stated in the Council response.

I wonder if anyone is forcing the usually diligent council staff to over-ride all these substantial concerns?

Some people may sneer at the fact that threatening impacts could wipe out, forever, these vulnerable and endangered species and communities. What needs to be considered is that these species have not been here for a mere 50 years, not 100 years, not 200 years, not 500 years, not 1,000 years, not 10,000 years, not 100,000 years, not 500,000 years, not one million years … They have been here for millions and millions of years. The modern human species has only been here for 200,000 odd years and I have only been here for a pathetic 60 years … how many pathetic years have any of you been here?? … And yet for the sake of one person getting close to water views for a few years, Council is prepared to allow these threatening impacts to occur. The vast magnitude of the arrogance of that is absolutely mind blowing.

The detailed OEH concerns have been dismissed by the council because the council thought they understood the environmental and site specific considerations better . If environmental concerns were to be taken seriously, it is obvious significantly more trained DA staff as well as compliance officers are required. What the land planners actually need to do, is accept the advice of the specialist agency experts, who have the more relevant expertise and experience, and then very cleverly and creatively incorporate that advice into planning proposals.

#Opinion #Council #LocalStateFederal #Broulee

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