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Make a Submission on Biodiversity

Background

We have concerns about legislation that the Baird Government is proposing to introduce early next month. We are asking members to send an email or letter during February to their local state MP with the aim of persuading the politicians to modify the bill before it goes before Cabinet.

There has been widespread destruction of native vegetation in urban areas of NSW as a result of the 10/50 rules and infrastructure and housing development. Now the government is proposing to introduce a new Biodiversity Conservation Act that will allow further destruction in rural and urban areas chiefly through weakening the offsets policy.

Previously the requirement was that bushland and wildlife habitat destroyed had to be replaced under a like-for-like principle. If this was not possible then the development could not go ahead. The new proposal is that developers will be able to substitute entirely different vegetation or even just pay into a government environmental fund. More details are available from http://www.nature.org.au/campaigns/nature-laws/.

Contact Details

Here are contact details for local MPs. Also please contact your federal MP to make the point that the NSW Government is sabotaging Australia's greenhouse gas reduction commitments.

  • Anthony Roberts, member for Lane Cove, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 9817 4757
  • Alister Henskens, member for Ku-ring-gai, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 9487 8588
  • Jonathon O’Dea, member for Davidson, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 9880 7400
  • Matt Kean, member for Hornsby, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 9476 3411
  • Jillian Skinner, member for North Shore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 9909 2594
  • Paul Fletcher, Federal member for Bradfield, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 9465 3950

Suggested Letter

Suggested points to be made in letters are as follows but please put into your own words.

I write in relation to the NSW Government's proposal to rewrite the biodiversity laws that protect nature across NSW in the city and country and seek your urgent assistance to make representations to the NSW Premier on my behalf.

The changes recommended by the Biodiversity Review Panel and accepted by the government risk a return to broad-scale tree clearing across NSW, loss of threatened ecosystems and loss of essential vegetation in urban environments. I do not support the proposed biodiversity offsets policy, under which there will be no requirement for like-for-like offsets and where developers will be able to pay money into a fund in exchange for destroying vegetation.

If enacted your government's proposals will result in a significant loss of wildlife habitat, release millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and reduce air quality. They will also increase soil erosion and impact water quality in some our driest regions.

The Federal Government is investing millions of dollars in planting trees to address Australia’s climate change commitments, and talks about improving tree cover in the cities, while the NSW Government prepares to increase tree clearing in rural and urban areas.

As my member of parliament, I request that you make my objections known to the Premier immediately. I also seek your commitment to protect existing laws and build on them for even more effective laws to fulfill the government's election promise to enhance outcomes for nature.

Make a Submission on Expansion of Medium Density Housing

With everyone dealing with council amalgamations, the government’s proposal to have medium density introduced as complying development seems to have escaped proper scrutiny. The government is seeking feedback on a proposal to expand the range of low rise residential development that could be undertaken as complying development (complying development can be approved by councils under a predetermined set of guidelines and neighbours do not need to be informed).

A discussion paper Options for Low Rise Medium Density Housing as Complying Development is open for public comment until 1 March 2016.

Click here for an article about this and here to have your say on-line. The closing date is 1 March 2016.

Recommendations

Amongst other things, the discussion paper recommends appropriate complying development standards for low rise medium density housing proposals that would result in two to ten dwellings being erected on a single lot. The discussion paper presents three built-form scenarios, depending on lot size, resulting in:

  • two dwellings (dual occupancies) on a single lot with a minimum lot size of 400 m2,
  • three to four dwellings (manor homes) on a single lot with a minimum lot size of 500 m2 (manor homes are defined as a form of housing where a single building contains four dwellings, two at ground floor level and two at first floor level), and
  • three to ten dwellings on a single lot with a minimum lot size of 600 m2 (townhouses/terraces and/or a combination of development types)

The proposed planning instrument covers all residential (single dwelling) R2 zonings, regardless of infrastructure, local environment or social needs. The only exemption appears to be areas that are currently excluded from complying development such as heritage-listed precincts and some land with special environmental conditions, e.g. bushfire-prone land and riparian zones.

The introduction of medium density into single residential zones is particularly problematic, since it has the potential to change the whole character of our suburbs. If it becomes complying development, medium density could occur in most streets and residents would have no say in the matter.

Suggested Points for Submissions

  1. The use of complying development takes away all community input with no merit-based assessment allowed for development that will significantly change local street character.
  2. The one-size-fits-all application of the proposal from the inner city to the outer suburbs and regional areas across NSW ignores variations in geography, history etc that are currently reflected in the character of our towns and suburbs.
  3. It takes planning control away from the community and councils by overriding local environment plans contrary to the government’s election promise that the opposite would happen.
  4. It ignores the principles of good strategic planning by creating ad hoc development, permitting poor quality residential development that is not integrated with planned infrastructure.
  5. There is a strong legal argument that it is contrary to the objective of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to promote orderly and economic development.
  6. It will be contrary to federal environmental policy that encourages the retention of vegetation to address climate change and improve tree canopy cover in our cities.

Welcome to STEP

pocSTEP is a community-based environmental organisation with over 400 members from Ku-ring-gai, Hornsby and surrounding suburbs. Our primary aim is to work for the conservation of bushland in northern Sydney.

How about coming on one of our walks or talks? Or buy a bundle of our books and save $$!

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