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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Reading between the lines reveals little substance

We rely on the media to keep us informed. What is reported helps us to form opinions and begin conversations. Today we received the latest media release from NSW Greens MP and planning spokesperson Cate Faehrmann "New Report Shows Coastal NSW As We Know and Love it at Risk from Unchecked Development" The media release advises that a 40-page report released today by Greens MP and planning spokesperson Cate Faehrmann, detailing "a litany of unsustainable and inappropriate developments right along the NSW coast that will take away everything that everybody loves about coastal NSW if they’re allowed to go ahead". At a local level we might consider the developments at Broulee, Rosedale and Sunshine Bay as examples of urban expansion with the addition of the proposed developments at Tuross Head and Dalmeny.

Ms Faehrmann advises that the report, Concreting Our Coast: The developer onslaught destroying our coastal villages and environment”, documents 20 case studies from the length of the NSW coast saying "These new housing developments pose a serious cumulative threat to bushland, wildlife and coastal villages".

“In town after town, community groups are fighting damaging and inappropriate developments that threaten to overwhelm their already struggling local services and infrastructure, and wipe out much of the precious bushland that surrounds them,” said Cate Faehrmann.

“This report shows just how scary the big picture is. The NSW Liberal-National government has given developers the green light to bulldoze thousands of hectares of bushland for development. Everywhere you look, our precious coast is about to disappear under a layer of concrete and houses crammed together like sardines.

“We’re not talking about a couple of small bush blocks here. We’re talking about the destruction of very environmentally sensitive areas, as well as Aboriginal cultural heritage, on a massive scale. If it’s not stopped, our beautiful NSW coast will be unrecognisable in a matter of a few short years.

“Much of the bushland destined to be clearfelled on the South Coast is the last remaining habitat for wildlife after the Black Summer fires. Greater gliders, glossy black cockatoos, swift parrots, powerful owls - these animals have nowhere left to go, and the sheer scale of all of these developments could well push them to extinction.

“The report also shows that many of the new developments are planned on floodplains and wetlands, or in areas of high bushfire risk.

“There is no way we should be building homes in these risky locations. The last four years have shown just how much the climate crisis is affecting our homes, with more and more extreme weather events.”

“Many of these proposed developments are off the back of ‘zombie DAs’ that were approved decades ago avoiding any need to undertake the type of environmental or cultural heritage impact scrutiny required today,” said Ms Faehrmann. What the media release doesn't tell us is where the wave of new residents to the South East will live. It is recognised that there is a housing shortage across the region. In the media release there is nothing that offers guidance on where newcomers to the region are to live. New comers like doctors, nurses, professionals, trades, business owners. Like it or not but the region is expanding and expanding rapidly. The demand for housing is outstripping supply. This demand has the immediate effect of reducing affordable housing as rents and costs of real estate rise. But all we are hearing in the media release is that we need to stop developments that MUST comply with current legislation around environmental controls, laws and Acts. An example is the Tuross Head and Dalmeny subdivisions. Both "Zombie" yet neither will be able to do a single thing outside of what is legally allowable. Any challenge to either of these developments will no doubt arrive in the Land and Environment Court where they will most likely lose as the the developments are approved under current law. Reading the Green Framework below one imagines the debates in a future parliament that might see each defeated or won.

Framework Principles to Save our Coast

25 local community groups, many which formed to fight these developments, have signed onto a set of Framework Principles to Save our Coast. 1. PROTECT COASTAL ENVIRONMENTS By prohibiting roads and developments that impact ecologically sensitive environments including Threatened Species Habitat and Endangered Ecological Communities and adding ecologically sensitive land to the protected area network. Beagle Editor: For Tuross Head and Dalmeny: Appropriate studies have been, or will be, carried out to constrain any activity within protected areas. Eurobodalla employs a system of Biodiversity offsets that allow for development in one area whilst committing to an equal area of protection. 2. CONSIDER CLIMATE CHANGE By assessing and mapping areas vulnerable to floods, bushfires and sea level rise now and in the future and prohibiting development in those areas while resourcing and requiring local council’s to develop and update master bushfire and flood plans for their LGA. Eurobodalla Council does these already 3. ENSURE INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES ARE IN PLACE The Government must place requirements for adequate infrastructure and services before new housing developments can be built. Eurobodalla Council does this already 4. MAKE ECOLOGICAL ASSESSMENTS TRANSPARENT AND INDEPENDENT By making developers use independent ecological assessors provided by the department instead of being able to shop around for experts that enable development. By enforcing independent ecological assessors provided by the department the challenge will be that those not recommended by "the department" can challenge why they are not listed and why they are denied due regard. Let's see how this one plays out. 5. REIGN IN SHORT TERM HOLIDAY LETS By giving councils the power to regulate and limit short term holiday lets, freeing up regional housing stock. Council's already have this power and Bega and Eurobodalla have established their responses. The change of short term holiday rules has done little to improve regional housing stock. 6. PUT POWER BACK IN THE HANDS OF LOCAL COMMUNITIES By scrapping Regional Planning Panels and placing development approvals back into the hands of local councils, with joint council planning decisions over inter-regional developments. This all sounds terrific however, as was the case with Eurobodalla Council, the burden of such demands saw time poor councillors overwhelmed and the transparency and independence that came from Regional Planning Panels returned to back room discussions fraught with nepotism and unknown concessions with decisions being made by councillors paid $20,000 a year with little, if any, experience in making such decisions. 7. CLEAN UP LOCAL COUNCILS By banning property developers and real estate agents from sitting on council, strengthening disclosure requirements for counsellors and giving whistleblower protections to council staff to ensure councils make the best decisions for their community. The Green member had best familiarise herself with the rules, policies and procedures of the Office Of Local Government. Therein lies the rot. 8. END ZOMBIE DEVELOPMENT APPROVALS By forcing existing Development Approvals over 5 years old to be reassessed through the planning system with inappropriate approvals forced to redesign, take a land swap or receive compensation where appropriate. The litigation around this is enormous. A nice motherhood statement however there are serious people, with serious money, who have put a lot of skin in the game to invest in what was, at the time, legal and allowable and now it is suggested that they be forced to potential loose hundreds of thousands of dollars by way of retrospective rules. Now that too will be interesting to see.

While it is acknowledged that there are Zombie developments that will impact local environments the key issue is that we either constrain all future development to infill of our existing urban footprints and begin to go up, and not out. We should infill what we have given that the minimum block-size is 450m2. By living cheek by jowl we will maximise the efficiencies of our current infrastructure of water and sewer. No new roads need be built, no new powerlines. And best of all the trees of the area will all come down as they present a possible asset risk in storms and bushfires. Given that the Green's Framework Principles to Save our Coast has no solution for the high demand for accommodation in the South East as we expand our population and the services required the media release issued offers little if anything of substance that might have informed us of solutions within the concerning issues that we have with human impact on the environment. NOTE: I am a strong Greens supporter and believe that humans can do better. But in order to get my Green Vote at the next election I need to hear of solutions that are not empty knee jerks that can be ripped apart by law unless I can see what the proposed changes of the law clearly state. Otherwise it is just rhetoric and waffle. And that applies to any party or independent.


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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