Environmental issues on the Central Coast

Peat Island Lands

Peat island arial

Peat Island: Gateway to the Hawkesbury

Join our campaign to keep Peat Island in community hands for future generations.

In September 2021, the situation is as follows:

The latest Peat Island Planning Proposal is now on Public Exhibition

According to the NSW Government, the proposal aims to "open Peat Island to the public, while also revitalising Mooney Mooney with new housing, community facilities and job opportunities".

Key features of the Government's latest proposal include: - Nearly 270 new houses at Mooney Mooney, - Retention of nine historical buildings on the island, and four on the mainland, - New retail and café or restaurant opportunities, - Approximately 9.65 hectares of open space, including opportunities for walking and cycling tracks, parklands and recreational facilities, - Retention of the chapel and surrounding land for community use, and - 10.4 hectares of bushland dedicated as a conservation area.

At first glance this is a vast improvement on previous proposals but there is a BETTER VISION for this iconic site.

For the past 12 months CEN has been championing the formation of the Dyarubbin Peat Island Lands Association (DPIA), an incorporated, not-for-profit community-driven movement to transform Peat Island and lands west of the M1 into the nationally and globally significant location it deserves to be.

We are now working with the Lower Hawkesbury River communities to campaign for a BETTER VISION for Peat Island Lands - a vision that incorporates culture, heritage, history, environment and community. Our vision has all the positives of the planning proposal with none of the negatives and will guarantee Peat Island's preservation as a public asset for future generations.

  • Read more about the DPIA's BETTER VISION here
  • Sign up (see Friends of Peat Island on the right of this page) to receive updates about the new Association, including assistance with making a submission in response to the latest planning proposal and for more information about our a BETTER VISION.
  • Follow the campaign on facebook

Read on below to find out how long CEN has been actively working to protect and enhance Peat Island from privatisation and over-development.

In February 2019, the situation was as follows:

“An Addendum Planning Proposal has been lodged with Council, who are working with Property NSW towards a public exhibition period in 2019, with rezoning gazettal later in the year.

This is a significantly improved proposal over the previous plans which would have overdeveloped the site, limited public access and seriously reduced the aesthetics from the Freeway.

The revised proposal includes the potential to open up more than 2 kilometres of public access along the foreshore and more than 21 hectares of open space for the community, including an 11 hectare expansion of the adjacent bushland and Popran National Park.”

peatisland view

On the western side of the M1:

  • all the towers planned in 2014 now gone
  • the major remaining residences are tucked up near the M1;
  • on Peats Ferry Road leading down to the Deerubbin boat ramp there is a small group of houses on each side of the road, On the northern side there are some dwellings behind mangroves. On the southern side there are some houses on the back of that hill.
  • CEN wants to see further improvements, with no loss of views from the M1 by adding sound barriers if residences are allowed.

On the eastern side of the M1:

  • The Chapel becomes community, with likely Council ownership. The Chapel building would be both a church and a meeting room. Needs a small library and kitchen added although there is no allocated parking.
  • There is some concern that the Revesby Workers Club will propose an old peoples’ home near the club.

What’s next:

The Central Coast Council Administrator promised a 3 month consultation period

Click here to read more about the proposal and watch the video

Thank you to everyone who helped to gain these improvements, keep involved so that we end up with the best result possible.

This is what was planned in 2014,

  • 450 Houses
  • Limited Public Waterfront Access
  • Motorway Service Centre
  • Houses on Tank Hill
  • Buildings visible from Freeway
  • 5 Storey buildings

Help CEN stop this over development that will cause:

  • Loss of Public Land;
  • Clearing of Hill;
  • Houses, shops and service station in near pristine area;
  • Freeway Sound barriers to enable housing;
  • More sewerage into Hawkesbury
  • Loss of views and amenity
  • Loss  of Heritage Values.
  • Minimal Public Waterfront Access

Contact your local MP and tell them you want Peat Island for everyone.
or Become a Friend of Peat Island to be kept informed – click here:


Save Peat Island and Pick Your Future

Original Peat Island 4945834-3x2-700x467Rabbit Island 1900


Peat Island was originally established as a hospital for mental health patients. It has been closed for 5 years and the land is now being considered for other uses.

CEN supports:

  • Aesthetic of the Hawkesbury Valley to be maintained;
  • Public Use and Access Improved.

For Example:
The western area should be for day-trippers to stay at (picnic, walks, etc. places to buy food and for large numbers to move through, on to the river and the National Parks. There would be opportunity for basic waterfront camping and heritage buildings would hold displays on National Parks, Hospital and Tourism.”

Linda Burney
NSW Deputy Opposition Leader
Shadow Minister for the Central Coast
Kathy Smith
Labor Candidate for Gosford
Thursday January 22, 2015

Shadow Minister for the Central Coast Linda Burney has today expressed deep concerns about the Baird Government’s controversial redevelopment of Peat Island and public land adjoining the Hawkesbury River near Mooney Mooney in its current form.

On a visit today to the historic Peat Island site to meet with local residents, Ms Burney – joined by Labor Candidate for Gosford Kathy Smith – said Labor believed the area was a precious environmental and tourism asset of importance to Sydney and the Central Coast. She urged the Government to go back to the drawing board and begin a genuine community consultation process – instead of selling off the area to a big private developer.

Gosford Council approves a plan to rezone historic peat island on the Hawkesbury River, making way for a massive waterfront development.

See:  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-10/peat-island-rezoned-for-development/5959042

Media Release
11th December 2014
The Community Environment Network has condemned the decision of Gosford Council to support the Rezoning of the Peat Island lands. The Peat Island lands comprise a total area of 25 Ha, of this the island is less than 1Ha.
The lands being rezoned include Tank Hill which was to be included in Popran National Park when the first proposal was put out for public comment in 2011. Since then the developers have gotten into the act and now much more land, including bushland, is to be taken from the community and developed.
At the Council meeting a member of the local community spoke against the rezoning in its current form. Two Public Servants from the NSW Government spoke in favour of the proposal.
John Asquith, Chairman of the Community Environment Network said: “ Apparently, no one from the local community was prepared to speak in favour of the current proposal. This rezoning is an excessive over development of an Iconic Landscape. From Tuggerah to Wahroonga 100,000 people travel along the Freeway daily and for 80 kilometres they are in bushland. If this rezoning goes ahead an ugly scar will ruin that experience.”
This over development involves:

  • Loss of Public Land for private housing;
  • Clearing of Tank Hill which will be clearly visible from the Freeway;
  • Houses, shops and service station in near pristine area, which adjoins 5 National Parks or Nature Reserves;
  • People living near Peat Island will need Freeway Sound barriers to meet ambient noise standards;
  • More sewerage into Hawkesbury from another 450 Houses;
  • Loss of views and amenity from the Freeway and from adjoining walking tracks and lookouts.

John Asquith Chairman

Mr Asquith continued: “Everyone accepts that something needs to happen at Peat Island and the adjoining lands. However, development on Western Side of Freeway is an issue of National Importance due to Iconic Landscape and as the entry point to Sydney and the Central Coast. No development should occur on the Tank Hill due to the steepness of the land, good quality vegetation and need to maintain the aesthetics from the freeway / motorway / M1. On the eastern side of the freeway there is ample other degraded land for development.”

12 Oct, 2014

Dear Gosford Council and Councillors,

I attach a submission as an individual regarding the proposed Concept Plan prepared by Government Property NSW on behalf of the NSW Government for the future development of Peat Island and Mooney Mooney. I understand that these proposals are before Gosford City Council with a view to rezoning the subject lands. 

pdfDownload a copy of the submission58.72 KB

It is disappointing to see that the Master Plan you have produced seeks to urbanise the Peat Island precinct in the interest of short term commercial gain rather than to extend its potential as a passive recreational and environmental asset for the long term benefit of the community.
The Master Plan proposes too much development and too little recreational space.
The Peat Island Precinct is a community asset, so you would think planning for its future should be focused on how to maximise community access to the site while preserving its environmental and cultural values.

Peat Island is the gateway to the Hawkesbury. CEN, advocates protecting the Lower Hawkesbury, improving community recreational access, and opposes residential development, and major fuel service centre.

CEN wrote to all MPs, Mayor and Council in 2012 and 2013 seeking more public access. Initially this was well received and a response from the Government was quite positive.  Then when the 2014 plan was released it had more development and less public access. This includes private housing and a 1200 mm wide board walk for the public around Peat Island. It is clear, the boardwalk will never be built.

This was the last year of Labor – now in 2014 the Coalition has produced a plan with less public lands and restricted access. (see below)

Peat Island is the gateway to the Hawkesbury. CEN, advocates protecting the Lower Hawkesbury, improving community recreational access, and opposes residential development, and major fuel service centre.

Concept PlanCEN are campaigning with some locals for Peat Island to be kept as Public Land.

A proposal from the NSW Government to develop most of the land for housing is before Gosford Council; see details below.

This email is to invite you to join the Friends of Peat Island: If you would like to do so or have questions click here: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Look at the latest proposal:

Click to Read: http://www.gosford.nsw.gov.au/about-council/governance-and-strategy/access-to-information/gipa-documents-listing

pdfRatepayers Response to 2014 Proposal

Friends will be kept informed of developments by email

Development on the eastern side of the freeway / motorway / M1 is primarily an issue of local importance, however, the following general points are made:

  • New roads or development should be no closer than 50 M from the riverside and should not impact on Mangroves;
  • Block sizes should conform to Council's present standards rather than being of undersized and similar to the lot sizes of 1914 "Hawkesbury River Camping Lots Estate",
  • No development on the Tank Hill due to the steepness of the land, good quality vegetation and need to maintain the aesthetics from the freeway / motorway / M1

Development on Western Side of Freeway is an issue of National Importance due to Iconic Landscape and as entry point to Sydney and the Central Coast.

  1. Maximise public use of the whole area (including Peat Island) for recreation, amenity and access to Hawkesbury
  2. Existing aesthetic  maintained (this includes views from Motorway and surrounding NPWS Estate);
  3. Any development to be non- intrusive of Iconic Landscape;
  4. The heritage values of Peat Island be maintained and enhanced

It is envisaged that the best way of achieving these objectives for the Western Side of the Freeway is by the establishment of a Peats Island Trust (similar to the Sydney Harbour Trust).

Visualise the Drive south to Sydney:

Driving south on the M1 (formerly F3 Freeway) Motorway towards Sydney as you approach Tuggerah, the natural bushland of Ourimbah State Forest and Jilliby State Conservation Area are entered. To the south east is Strickland State Forest. As the road rises to the plateau, there are views of distant hills and waterways. This is Brisbane Waters National Park with the views being of distant Dahrug and Popran National Parks. The road snakes along the plateau past Girrakool and Kariong and then down into the magnificent sweep of Mooney Mooney Creek Bridge.

At the top of the hill is Somersby, surrounded by Brisbane Waters National Park. Little does the driver or passengers realise they are surrounded by Hanging Swamps and Aboriginal Carvings to rival Kakadu. Along the plateau to Mount White the road then begins a gradual decent into the Hawkesbury Valley. Again distant views of mountains and occasional waterways are to be seen. This includes parts of Popran and Marramarra National Parks. As we approach the Hawkesbury Bridge, to the left is Tank Hill where the NSW Government plans to build housing.


Tank Hill to be covered in Houses

From the bridge you can see Spectacle Island and Long Island Nature Reserves to the east with Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park in the background. To the west is Muogamurra Nature Reserve which is open for a restricted period in late winter and spring for the spectacular displays of wildflowers. From the bridge looking west is Peat Island a disused hospital. The landscape is otherwise untouched since European settlement. A magical Iconic Landscape enjoyed by 100,000 people (75,00 vehicles) driving along the motorway each day.

The NSW Government has plans to interrupt this experience by allowing 450 houses, a shopping centre and service centre to be build on 40 Ha. of disused hospital land at Mooney Mooney and Peat Island. This commercialisation will mean that the view to the west will be one of houses and a shopping centre.

 Peats-from-Freeway-2014-018-700  F3-highway-photos-2014-008-700
Crossing the Bridge Now Crossing the Bridge After

Sound barriers will be needed each side of the highway and across the Hawkesbury bridge to control the noise impact on new homes. Gone will be the view from the Hawkesbury Bridge. The view north will also be interrupted by houses on the bottom half of Tank Hill at Mooney.

Continuing our journey south towards Sydney, we climb the hill towards Berowra and Hornsby. Ku-ring-gai Chase lies to the east and Berowra Valley Regional Park to the west. At Wahroonga the highway ends, a total distance of nearly 70 kilometres in natural bushland and grand scenery. A unique Australian landscape, like no other, on the edge of our largest city. It gives over 100,000 people travelling the highway each day over one hour of enjoyment of beautiful landscape and nature. No servos, no signs and no houses.

In comparison the Great Ocean Road is 4 times longer and the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachians is 700 kilometres long. But neither of these has 100,000 people traversing it each day for over 70 kilometres. A great experience of nature for everyone including commuters and tourists.

The Hawkesbury Valley and Peat Island is an Iconic Landscape and one which must be protected from exploitation. Locals propose that the old Hospital land be used to enable better access to the river, community use and public recreation. Facilities for everyone, not just a few waterfront weekenders for the rich as proposed.

Peat Is from Muogamarra

The View from Muggamurra Nature Reserve

Current Status of Rezoning:

The following information is forwarded:

  • Councillors and the Executive Leadership Team were provided with a briefing by NSW Government Property on 15 July 2014. This was the first time Council were provided any detail beyond the information publically released through previous consultation events over the past year(s);
  • Council raised a number of concerns and issues with the proposal during this meeting and encouraged NSW Government Property to undertake community consultation prior to submission of the Planning Proposal;
  • The Planning Proposal was formally submitted to Council on Tuesday 12 August 2014;
  • The Planning Proposal  has been placed onto Councils’ webpage for the information of the public on Monday 18 August 2014.

To acces the documents please use the following link:


NOTE: The document is not currently on exhibition as community consultation will occur should Council (and the NSW Department of Planning &  Environment) support the proposal.

  • Council officers are yet to commence assessment of the Planning Proposal. It is likely to take a number of months for Council to complete the initial assessment process;
  • The Planning Proposal will be assessed on its merits. The assessment involves a review of the Planning Proposal against the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979, Local and Regional environmental planning instruments and other legislation, together with input from technical staff (i.e. traffic, flood, ecology, vegetation, social impacts etc);
  • Once staff have completed their assessment a report will be submitted to Council. The timing of this report will only be known a week or so prior to being considered by Council. However, the report will be made publically available via Councils’ website and Councils’ Business Papers. Notification will be sent to the Lower Hawkesbury Estuary Management Committee and Hornsby Shire Council;
  • The Director of Governance & Planning’s’ report to Council will recommend to refuse or support the proposal. Staff are also able to recommend studies which should be required and stakeholders who should be consulted. If supported by Council the recommendations will be provided to the NSW Department of Planning & Environment requesting a Gateway determination;
  • Anyone is able to speak in favour of or against a recommendation contained within the report to Council;
  • Gateway — The Minister (or delegate) determines whether the planning proposal is to proceed. This gateway acts as a checkpoint to ensure that the proposal is justified before further studies are done and resources are allocated to the preparation of a plan. A community consultation process is also determined at this time. Consultations occur with relevant public authorities and, if necessary, the proposal is varied;
  • Community consultation — the proposal is publicly exhibited (generally low impact proposals for 14 days, others for 28 days). As part of the exhibition process Council will ensure the relevant information is made available for access by the general public. A person making a submission may also request a public hearing be held;
  • There is considerable work required to undertake the initial assessment process and post Gateway process;
  • Assessment — Council then considers public submissions and the proposal is varied as necessary. Parliamentary Counsel then prepares a draft local environmental plan — the legal instrument.
  • Decision — With the Minister’s (or delegate’s) approval the plan becomes law and is published on the NSW legislation website.
  • If the Planning Proposal is eventually supported by Council and NSW Department of Planning & Environment all facets of the development will be required to undergo a Development Assessment process (including separate community engagement);

For questions specific to the Planning Proposal itself or assessment process please contact Brian McCourt Councils Senior Land Use Planner on 4325 8260 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Peat Island Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peatislandhawkesburyriver  |  Local Website: peatisland.cen.org.au

Email: peatisland@cen.org.au  |  Address: PO Box 149 OURIMBAH 2258

Contact details

CALL 02 4349 4756

FAX 02 4349 4755

PO Box 149 Ourimbah NSW 2258

The Manor, Central Coast Campus
University of Newcaste
Brush Road Ourimbah


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