Giovanna Hounsell - 1 March 2022
Giovanna Hounsell presented to Council at the Public Access Session on 1 March 2022.
Good morning Mayor, Councillors and staff,
Thank you for the opportunity to address our new Council.
My name is Giovanna Hounsell. I have been a resident of Broulee since 1995.
I would like to express my concerns about the way blocks in Broulee and other areas are clearfelled for residential development.
When I first moved to Broulee in 1995, I entered via Mossy Point and was stunned by the beauty of the coastal village with tree-lined streets, amazing beaches and relaxed atmosphere.
If my first glimpse of Broulee had been this year and off Broulee Rd into Clarke St…I would have found the view confronting. I’d compare the moonscape on the left, with the treescape on the right, be wondering why there is no tree buffer to soften the harsh transition between the built and unbuilt environment, imagine how hot and noisy it will be in the future and wonder how this bland housing estate could be allowed, without vision or sensitivity to the environment.
This, and proposed developments like this are not in character with a nature coast village.
I believe the ‘knock it all down and build it up again’ style of development is a cheap, easy option. Lucrative for the developer, convenient for Council, but where does the community, that has to live with these developments, get a say, while our villages morph into the sort of place that tourists and property buyers are escaping from in order to experience what they don’t already have?
When forest is clear-felled for new developments, …the resultant ‘canopy loss’,…has a number of negative impacts on the environment….it increases erosion and sedimentation of waterways and reduces water and air quality. Clearing also removes habitats leading to the fragmentation of biodiversity and the direct loss of native plants and animals. Canopy loss also has significant impacts on the amenity of a neighbourhood by increasing the ambient temperature of the area, reducing shade on footpaths and cycleways..’
The ambient temperature was recently measured in the development around Gillan Grove, one of the newer subdivisions in Broulee, and was found to be 4-5 degrees higher than in some of the older parts, where mature trees have been retained.
We need our mature trees, but not just for us.
The Bangalay sand forest of the proposed Heath St. subdivision is classified as Dry Scleropyll Forest of the South Coast Sands and Sydney Sand Flats. A Bionet search of the Batemans subregion, found 52 threatened species of plant, bat, bird, mammal and 2 ecological communities, known or likely to exist there.
One threatened species, and resident of Broulee, the Gang-gang cockatoo, has declined in numbers by about 70% over the last 20 years and are likely to be listed as endangered this year. They nest in hollows, which take 100’s of years to form. Without hollows they cannot breed. Loss of breeding and foraging habitat due to land clearing and deforestation are two major reasons they are in trouble. Gang gang hollows have been observed and recorded in the area to be developed. An updated environmental assessment needs doing.
The Black Butts, and other Eucalypts leading into COP off Frances St. are over 100 years old.They provide shade, cooling, habitat, soil stability, noise suppression and visual pleasure, while absorbing tonnes of Carbon from the atmosphere each year. One mature tree will intercept tens of thousands of litres of water per year, helping to stabilise the water table, and prevent soil erosion. The cooling effect of trees reduces the need for air-conditioning, reducing energy demands. Trees also play an important role in improving peoples’ sense of wellbeing.
While conceding that developing land in a bush-fire area requires stringent design and safety considerations, with careful planning some mature trees could still be retained.
I refer you to:
Planning for Bushfire Protection 2019 which gives advice on how to incorporate trees and shrubs safely into an urban garden in bushfire prone land.
Standards for Asset Protection Zones, 2019 (Rural Fire Service) points out:
Isolated areas of vegetation are generally not a bush fire hazard, as they are not large enough to produce fire of an intensity that will threaten dwellings.
- bushland areas of less than one hectare that are isolated from large bushland areas
- narrow strips of vegetation along road and river corridors.
- Reduction of fuel does not require removal of all vegetation, which would cause environmental damage.
- Trees and plants can provide you with some bush fire protection from strong winds, intense heat, flying embers and changing wind patterns. Some ground cover is also needed to prevent soil erosion.
- The removal of significant native species should be avoided (although tree canopies should be separated by 2-5 metres)
Retaining and planting trees is one of the most effective ways to help mitigate climate change. It is essential we retain as many of Broulee’s mature forest trees as possible and incorporate them into well designed, aesthetically pleasing, environmentally friendly residential spaces, where the balance of neighbours and nature is retained and quality community living is a priority.
Finally, some questions for Council:
1. The Broulee Biodiversity Certification Strategy 2013 (Draft Only) to which the DA for the Heath St Subdivision refers, for justification of removing 12 hectares of endangered Bangalay Sand forest should have been replaced with a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement when the new Biodiversity Conservation Act of 2016 replaced the old Threatened Species Act of 1995. Has Council already done this replacement and in so doing re-assessed the vegetation using updated methodology?
2. Have any funds been paid into the Biocertification Trust Fund from previous developments covered by the Biobanking agreement? If so, how will the money be spent?
3. If mature trees draw down several tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per year, should there be an expectation that when those trees are removed for residential development, they will be replaced, in order for Council to meet their Carbon Emissions Reduction targets?