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Linda Chapman - 12 February 2019

Linda Chapman addressed council regarding the proposed amendments to LEP 2012 at the Ordinary Council Meeting 12 February 2019.

ESC Public Forum 12.2.2019 Lack of Compliance and Land Clearing

In the last couple of weeks a parcel of land at Mossy Point has been cleared with DA approval, within an Ecologically Endangered Community. The land runs alongside the Tomakin river and is part of the remnant Bangalay Sand Forest in the area. Much of this type of forest has recently been cleared, again with approval, for further housing developments in Broulee. The remnant forest at Mossy Point however is included in the rezoning proposed by "ESC in the Rural Lands Strategy which is presently waiting approval by the State Planning Minister Anthony Roberts. Whilst this block, which has just been cleared, is DA approved it remains true that it is on land deemed an Ecologically Endangered Community. And, as the photos show, this land has been cleared right up to the edge of the river with no sediment control. A few days after it was cleared, we had heavy rain meaning sediment almost certainly went into the river. All development approvals include the requirement for sediment control. The forest at Mossy Point was a significant climate change buffer and, protected the low- lying existing properties and their dwellings from rising sea levels, not to mention the SEPP14 Wetlands and oyster leases. The king tide now comes up to the wetlands opposite, halfway up Connells Close. What will happen next time we have a storm on a king tide without the massive sponge of the Bangalay forest and the littoral rain forest? Have ESC opened the door to liability in this regard?

Clearly, no matter how much Council assure the public otherwise, regulations are sometimes broken when developments go ahead.

Another case in point is land at Long Beach (Development application 5434/92 for a 56 lot subdivision. Property: Lot 253 DP 1120747, Blairs Road, Long Beach) with clearing and inadequate erosion control and buffer in a SEPP 14 wetland. Photos of the site from September through to January this year show the inadequate response of the developer.

The fact that the Eurobodalla Shire Council has approved this clearing for a dwelling at Mossy Point, together with the 2 tracks required for fire risk does not mean it will not have, already is having a very significant impact on the environment of this endangered ecological community. And this is just one block. If the Rural Land Strategy is approved there would be 19 more blocks allowed under changes to zoning. So, no matter the assurances of council that all will be well - clearly it isn't. This clearing right up to the rivers edge, and with no sediment control, appears to be a graphic example of blatant disregard for regulations. And this is just one block.  Imagine 19 more of these. The clearing of this lot (63) had zero sediment control and includes high risk of acid-sulfate soil incursion, as clearing goes all the way to the river. As a consequence the health of the estuary is put at risk. I wonder will this clearing with no sedimentation control have an impact on the oyster leases only a kilometre or so away?

Further clearing in this area would decimate this precious, remnant parcel of Bangalay Sand Forest. It would continue the slow sprawl of urban development along the coast.  It would destroy precious habitat for endangered species such as the Swift Parrot and Yellow-bellied glide. And we are destroying the natural beauty and amenity of our 'Nature Coast.'

This bit of remnant forest at Mossy Point is one example of what we have got to lose with inappropriate development. Clear any of it and it is lost for good. It may well be that developers can afford the cost of a fine after the event given the value· of land in this area now. So, how are council to enforce development controls in such a climate? Or in the end is it only money that matters? It is not necessary to clear this land for housing. There is land cleared already.

My questions are:

  1. Who actually owns the land bordering the river where clearing has gone to the edge? Is it Crown land or privately owned?
  2. Is it true that a council staff member attended this property during last Tuesday and said it complies with the DA.? If so, given assurances in regards to re-zoning under the RLS that the DA process will look after all the details including environmental impacts, how can the community have any confidence in this process?

Council's reply

Council welcomes the public input as it offers insight into the views of the community and in this regard, your contribution was appreciated.

In regard to the questions you have raised, I provide the following information:

Council has received and approved a development application for a dwelling and two lot subdivision on this land. The proposal was assessed in accordance with the applicable legislation and Council policy, and found to be acceptable on balance of these considerations.

It should be noted that whilst a dwelling and subdivision has been approved on this land, there was also a requirement that a substantial amount of this land be protected from future development. The application approved a dwelling on a 14 hectare lot with approximately 1 hectare of disturbance and a separate lot of 2 hectares. The 14 hectare lot is subject to a Vegetation Management Plan (VMP) that requires ongoing conservation and rehabilitation of previous unauthorised clearing (the land has been used by campers and 4WD users illegally). The VMP is also registered on the title of the lot for awareness by any future landowner.

It is important to note that the Rural Lands Strategy Planning Proposal has identified that the 14 hectare lot be zoned E2 Environmental Conservation and that dwellings would be prohibited. The 2 hectare lot is proposed to be zoned E4 Environmental Living with the potential of subdivision into 1,000m2 lots. Assessment by the landowner’s ecologist and Council staff has identified that the 2 hectare lot is a different vegetation community and does not contain the Endangered Ecological Community found in the 14 hectare lot.

In regard to your concerns about land clearing, it should also be noted that Council has a Customer Service Request (CSR) system where you can log concerns via phone, 4474 1000 or via email, . Council’s Rangers will investigate the matter and provide you with a response.

In regard to your specific questions, I can provide the following information;

  • The land adjoining the river is public (Crown) land. There is no clearing associated with the above development on this land. There is evidence of previous clearing, camping, etc., that where access has been through the subject land, without approval.
  • Council staff did inspect the site on 5 February 2019 with the landowner to confirm the extent of clearing. Council was advised by a complainant that up to 5 hectares of clearing had taken place. The inspection identified that only the Asset Protection Zone (APZ) and access had been cleared.