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ALLIANCE OF COMMUNITY GROUPS URGES PLANNING MINISTER TO REJECT COUNCIL PROPOSAL TO DESTROY BUSHLAND

An alliance of community groups representing around 200,000 residents, has called for NSW Planning Minister, The Hon Paul Scully MP, to reject a Central Coast Council rezoning that could destroy at least 300Ha of bushland and result in the potential construction of at least 1200 dwellings on conservation land.

SCROLL DOWN TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED AND SUPPORT THIS CAMPAIGN TO SAVE THE CENTRAL COAST'S CHARACTER, GREEN SPACES AND HABITAT

“Community opposition is so deep that we have taken the unusual step of paying for a full-page advertisement in our local newspaper so we can send Minister Scully an ‘open letter’,” said Gary Chestnut, Chair of the Central Coast Community Environment Network.

“This is the last stand in a fight that has been going on since around 2011,” Mr Chestnut said. “The residents and ratepayers of the Central Coast are fed up with being ignored by a Council that has been under administration since 2020 and two successive tone deaf NSW Governments.

“We will not, ever, accept the destruction of our green ridgelines which are the visual landscape that gives the Central Coast its unique character.

“We will not stop until we beat this misguided proposal.”

The open letter to Minister Scully, to be published in Coast Community News on Thursday, 11 July 2024, includes a call to action for all Central Coast residents to write to the Planning Minister objecting to the proposal.

 According to the alliance of community groups, if Mr Scully approves Central Coast Council’s recommendation, it will: 

  • Destroy the unique visual landscape, character and lifestyle of the Central Coast, 
  • Eliminate extensive areas of threatened species habitat,
  • Fail to protect local Aboriginal cultural heritage,
  • reck wildlife corridors between National Parks, State Forests and reserves,
  • Devastate the future of the region’s unique, irreplaceable and beautiful Coastal Open Space System (COSS) – a system of scenic bushland reserves owned and managed by the local council since the 1970s which is a one of a kind and found nowhere else in NSW.

 Mr Chestnut said Central Coast Council had already ignored hundreds of submissions and emails from concerned residents opposing this rezoning of bushland, which the council misleadingly described as “like for like”.

“Even more distressing was Council’s decision to ignore advice from the Biodiversity Conservation and Science Directorate (BCS) within the NSW Department of Climate Change, Environment, Energy and Water (DCCEEW).

“The DCCEEW concluded that this planning proposal would have a negative impact on biodiversity in this region and we believe Mr Scully has an obligation to follow the expert advice of his own government.

“The BCS said the conservation land, that council wants to downgrade to land use zones offering less protection and more development, should have the highest level of protection available outside a national park – the C2 Conservation Zone. How can the Minister ignore expert advice from the agency responsible for protecting biodiversity across NSW?

“Mr Scully, how can you wave through a rezoning that is flawed and not supported by the community or your government’s own experts? The BCS recommendation is the only way to protect this land for future generations.”

The groups are calling for the Planning Minister to reject the Central Coast Council recommendation:

  1. Adopt the advice from the BCS to rezone the deferred 7(a) land to C2. 
  2. Protect the Central Coast’s visual landscape, Aboriginal heritage and COSS lands, 
  3. Help to maintain the region’s biodiversity and green spaces,
  4. Retain the unique character and lifestyle of the Central Coast.

The following groups are calling on the Planning Minister to reject the planning proposal and asking Central Coast residents to join their campaign by writing to the Minister objecting to the council recommendation:

Community Environment Network; Central Coast Community Better Planning Group; Friends of COSS; Koolewong-Tascott Point Clare Progress Association; Kariong Progress Association; Macmasters Beach Progress Association; Springfield Residents Association; National Parks Association Central Coast; Peninsula Residents Association; Grow Urban Shade Trees; Copacabana Community Association; Australian Conservation Association Central Coast; Wagstaffe to Killcare Community Association; Gosford Waterfront Alliance; Voices of Central Coast; The Bays Community Association; Ourimbah Region Residents Association, Peninsula Environment Group, Coast Environment Alliance (CEA).

HOW YOU CAN HELP

The above alliance needs your support. We need as many people as possible to send their own letters to the Minister for Planning

  1. If your group is not included above let me know, or you know of other groups who may be impacted by this Planning Proposal, please urge them to join the campaign by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  2. Please use they KEY POINTS listed below to write your own letters/emails to Paul Scully and Penny Sharpe as soon as possible – Parliamentarian email contact details below
  3. Please telephone the office of your local NSW State MP (numbers listed below) and request an urgent meeting with your MP about this issue. This is a fresh way of raising the matter with them and ensuring they know the community is concerned. CEN and other groups from the alliance have been corresponding with local MPs about this matter for some time.
  4. Please urgently write letters to the editor of Coast Community News, the Newcastle Herald and the Sydney Morning Herald expressing your opposition to this planning proposal.
  5. CEN will be publishing and boosting social media posts regularly which we need you to share.

 

Email addresses to distribute to your group members so they can write their own letters/emails – we are aiming for thousands!

  1. The Hon Paul Scully MP

NSW Minister for Planning

Use this form: https://www.nsw.gov.au/nsw-government/ministers/minister-for-planning-and-public-spaces

Or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

  1. The Hon Penny Sharpe MLC

NSW Minister for the Environment

Use this form: https://www.nsw.gov.au/nsw-government/ministers/minister-environment-heritage

Or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

  1. The Hon Gordon Reid MP

Federal Member for Roberston

It has been suggested Dr Reid will support the campaign and may be able to influence his state peers

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Electorate office phone numbers for your members to call to request an urgent meeting with their local NSW State MP:

 

  1. Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch MP, 02 4342 4122
  2. Member for Terrigal, Adam Crouch MP, 02 4365 1906
  3. Member for The Entrance, David Mehan MP, 02 4334 1012
  4. Member for Wyong, David Harris MP, 02 4352 2711
  5. Member for Swansea, Yasmin Catley MP, 02 4972 1133
  6. Abigail Boyd MLC, 02 9230 3676
  7. Taylor Martin MLC, 02 9230 2985

 

Emails to send letters to the editor:

Coast Community News, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Newcastle Herald – use this form https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/opinion/letters/send-a-letter-to-the-editor/

Sydney Morning Herald, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

THIS PLANNING PROPOSAL WILL IRREVOCABLY CHANGE THE CHARACTER OF THE SOUTHERN AREAS OF THE CENTRAL COAST. WE WILL LOSE OUR GREEN RIDGELINES, ALONG WITH IMPORTANT HABITAT.

 KEY POINTS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR LETTERS, EMAILS AND CONVERSATIONS

The planning proposal that could see MANY HUNDREDS of hectares of Conservation Land on the NSW Central Coast needlessly downgraded and destroyed.

This is native species habitat - essential for the protection of biodiversity on the Central Coast now and for all future generations.

The Deferred Matters Lands Planning proposal encompasses Conservation Lands that surround and share boundaries with the Central Coast’s unique and wonderous Coastal Open Space System or COSS.

That is exactly why these lands were DEFERRED, over a decade ago; they were not ‘zoned’ when NSW moved to a state-wide set of land use zones; there was no appropriate zone.

The council intended to voluntarily acquire some of the deferred lands and add them to COSS. Remaining 7(a) land was to have a Conservation zone to be perpetually kept as wildlife corridors connecting COSS reserves, national parks and state forests.

COSS lands are beautiful. Thanks to the foresight of the Gosford City Council, way back in the 1970s, a network of natural bushland reserves was created, to be kept as community land in council ownership for passive recreation and conservation.

COSS is the reason why the former Gosford City local government area, now the southern half of the Central Coast LGA, has green escarpment as far as the eye can see, and unique reserves including Rumbalara, Katandra, Kincumba Mountain, Captain Cook Memorial Park and Winney Bay Reserve – loved and enjoyed by residents and visitors.

Many promises were made to residents and rate payers when the Gosford City and Wyong Shire Councils were merged in 2016. We were promised that COSS would be expanded. We were promised a brand new, comprehensive Local Environmental Plan (LEP) with resident consultation to make sure land use zones were appropriate for this special region.

Both promises were broken by the former NSW Government. Now the Council’s Administrator has ignored 230 submissions objecting to the proposal, along with130 emails, the bulk of which were against the Council recommendation and the advice of the Biodiversity Conservation and Science Directorate (BCS) within the Environment and Heritage Group in the Department of Climate Change, Environment, Energy and Water (DCCEEW).

BCS said all deferred matters land zoned 7(a) should be zoned C2 (Conservation). This is LIKE FOR LIKE and the only way to protect this land from development. Rik Hart drank the cool aid on May 28 and accepted the incomplete, biased and misleading information presented by council staff – ironic considering 15 Central Coast Councillors were suspended, then dismissed, for similar behaviour in 2020.

He has pushed through a proposal that will downgrade deferred lands to the C3 and C4 zones which will open them up to unnecessary and inappropriate clearing and development. THIS IS NOT LIKE FOR LIKE and it will take a wrecking ball to our COSS lands strategy.

Fortunately, Central Coast Council is not the final arbiter on this matter. It has gone back to the Department of Planning and Planning Minister, Paul Scully, will have the final say.

We urge Minister Scully to take the advice of his government’s Biodiversity Conservation and Science Group. Refuse Council’s recommendation and adopt the recommendation of the Biodiversity Conservation and Science Group from DCCEEW. We have also written to Central Coast Council Administrator Hart, calling for him to rescind the motion he passed in May. Rik Hart was not given key facts about the Biodiversity Conservation and Science Group advice. Staff failed to address substantial community and expert concerns.

Our request to Ministers Scully and Sharpe is simple:

  1. Do not accept the recommendation of Council staff, as adopted by Mr Hart on 28 May. The recommendation is flawed, not supported by the community or the DCCEEW, and the staff report failed to address key community concerns.
  2. Adopt the advice from the Biodiversity Conservation and Science Directorate within the Department of Climate Change, Environment, Energy and Water which is the primary agency in NSW for our states biodiversity and to rezone the deferred 7(a) land to C2 Conservation. IT’S THAT SIMPLE!
  3. Protect our existing COSS lands and stand up for the promised expansion of COSS so the Central Coast can be a refuge for endangered and threatened species and an eco-playground for future generations.
  4. Help us protect regional biodiversity and regional green spaces as our population grows and densifies.

REJECT THE DEFERRED MATTERS PLANNING PROPOSAL

 

We need your URGENT HELP today and tomorrow to stop Administrator Rik Hart from adopting a staff recommendation that will trash this region’s biodiversity and character – and that’s not CEN’s opinion alone, the Biodiversity and Science Group (BSG) within the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) agrees. Here’s what BSG said:

 

“THE PLANNING PROPOSAL … REDUCES THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION OF THE LAND” Biodiversity Conservation and Science Group, (NSW DCCEEW)

 

Central Coast Council has ignored expert advice from NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) and recommended Mr Hart pushes through a planning proposal that will undermine the region’s biodiversity and alter its future character and livability.

 

Mr Hart is being asked to adopt staff recommendations when council meets on Tuesday, May 28, that will irreversibly alter the character of over half the region, undermine the Coastal Open Space System (COSS) and ‘has the potential to affect’ biodiversity.

 

The planning proposal to ‘move’ deferred matters lands in the former Gosford Local Government Area into the Central Coast Consolidated Local Environmental Plan 2022 (CCLEP2022) will result in:

  1. High value conservation land having less protection via inappropriate zoning;
  2. The potential for over 3000 residential structures (dwellings, dual occupancies and secondary dwellings) to be built on 1037 allotments currently zoned 7(a);
  3. Threats to Coastal Open Space System reserves and National Parks because adjoining land will not be zoned C2; and
  4. Curtailment of the ability to expand COSS via voluntary acquisition of neighbouring land.

 

It was “vindicating” to read the council report and find that criticisms of the planning proposal by the Biodiversity, Conservation and Science Group (BCS) within DCCEEW were like those CEN had been making for three years.

 

However, it is devastating to see Central Coast Council staff dismiss the expertise of the BCS Group Mr Hart’s legacy will be to undermine the precious biodiversity of the Central Coast if he goes ahead with the staff recommendation.”

 

Comments made by BCS included:

  1. “Any reduction in conservation outcomes, including additional permissibilities, will be difficult to reverse in the future…as it reduces the environmental protection of the land.”
  2. Deferred lands should be assessed for High Environmental Value (HEV) as described in the Regional Plan 2041 in order to be compliant with current planning policy.
  3. Alternatively (to zoning all 7(a) land C2) an ecological site assessment should be provided. BCS normally request a Stage 1 BAM assessment be provided where biodiversity has the potential to be affected.
  4. New zones do not follow the vegetation boundaries. In this case BCS request that all the vegetation is zoned C2 (using straight lines) and it to be up to the landowner to justify why this should not be the case.
  5. Contrary to p.56 of the Planning Proposal all land adjacent to National Parks should be considered ‘sensitive land’.
  6. The C4 zone has been applied to lots that are constrained by flooding. it is considered that C2 or C3 zoning is more appropriate for the flood planning area.”

 

It is clear that the DCCEEW agrees with CEN: the recommendation being presented by staff has the potential to undermine existing Coastal Open Space reserves and National Parks and the region’s biodiversity because it reduces the environmental protection of the land,” Mr Chestnut said.

 

This advice is from the group within the NSW Government that has the legal responsibility to protect the natural environment and Aboriginal cultural heritage across NSW. How can Mr Hart ignore it?

 

Many other misleading statements are included in the report to Mr Hart: of the 328 submissions only 79 supported the planning proposal but the report calls that a ‘significant’ number. The report claims council must follow a NSW Government Practice Note adopted in April 2009 and claims it is more current that the former Gosford LEP, adopted in 2014.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  1. Email the Administrator NOW on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and ask him to ‘DEFER DEFERRED MATTERS LANDS”. Tell him you disagree with the staff recommendation and ask him to consider the BSG advice that this will lead to biodiversity loss that the Central Coast cannot afford. Tell Mr Hart all 7(a) deferred matters land MUST BE ZONED C2 and all 7(c)2 land must be zoned C3. It’s that simple.
  2. Email your local state member and urge them to contact Mr Hart about the BSG advice today or tomorrow before the meeting: Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Member for Terrigal, Adam Crouch, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Member for The Entrance, David Mehan, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Member for Wyong, David Harris, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Member for Swansea, Yasmin Catley, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  3. Register to speak at tomorrow’s public forum before the council meeting by completing and sending a Register to Speak form, prepare a three minute speech using the points raised in this email: https://www.centralcoast.nsw.gov.au/about-council/meetings-and-minutes/council-meetings
  4. Phone a Ministerial Office. Let the NSW Ministers know we, the residents and ratepayers of the Central Coast want Mr Hart to at least Defer the Deferred Matters Planning Proposal. Key Ministers: Planning Minister, Paul Scully, Environment Minister, Penny Sharpe, Local Government Minister, Ron Hoenig and Minister for the Central Coast, David Harris. You can find their contact details here: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/members/pages/all-members.aspx?house=LA
  5. Help us with social media engagement: share our post, comment, tell your friends. It is urgent and important… https://www.facebook.com/communityenvironmentnetwork

 

The Community Environment Network (CEN) has questioned the need to complete any further public land classifications when the Central Coast is months away from its first local government election in seven years.

“We are relieved to see that Central Coast Council appears to be following due process for the first time since it embarked on its public land fire sale in late 2020 but we remain concerned by the intention behind some of these proposed reclassifications,” said CEN Chair, Mr Gary Chestnut.

“CEN questions whether it will be the Central Coast community or private enterprises who will ultimately benefit from some of these properties being reclassified and rezoned,” he said.

In particular, CEN is concerned about the following reclassifications:

  • 18 Dane Drive, Gosford: 

Better known to the community as Gosford Bowling Club, which has been offered an extended lease as a sweetener while Central Coast Council pushes through this reclassification. The community has been told this reclassification is necessary to fulfil the council’s “vision” for the redevelopment of the stadium and waterfront. CEN remains deeply concerned that, following the announcement and exhibition of a masterplan for the stadium and waterfront in Gosford, it seems that a process of stakeholder consultation is ongoing with no community input. The community currently owns this land. What will the long-term dividend be for its reclassification for use as something like a private boutique hotel?

  • 49-51 Mann Street, Gosford:

This tiny sliver of land, which is actually on Henry Parry Drive, needs to be reclassified so Central Coast Council can continue with its selloff of the former Gosford Council building. The former NSW Government entered a memorandum of understanding to acquire this prime Gosford CBD site to build a “vertical TAFE” and education precint. Negotiations appear to have stalled and CEN cannot verify whether or not TAFE intends to acquire the site. If it is not purchased by the NSW Government for a future public use, we are concerned it will be sold to a private developer. Since late 2020 Central Coast Council has a track record of selling public assets for less than their market value. The NSW Government does not seem to be acting with any urgency to acquire this land for TAFE so why can’t this reclassification wait until after the local election in October?

  • 48W Wallarah Road, Gorokan

This prime piece of waterfront land separates the Wallarah Bay Recreation Club from the foreshore of Tuggerah Lake. It has been described by Central Coast Council as a “stranded asset” but it is, at the moment, a public reserve. Council cannot legally pre-empt the outcome of the reclassification by stating whether it intends to sell the land or lease it over a long-term. Either way, the intent is to privatise the land and council’s track record for securing a reasonable dividend back to its residents and ratepayers has been poor ever since it embarked on its public land selloff in 2020. Environmental land at Doyalson sold for less than its purchase price; the sale of “unimproved” land to Winarch which then resold it within months for a massive profit; and the sale of a prime Bounty Close, Tuggerah, property at the end of a long-term lease for substantially less than market value support CEN’s view that Central Coast Council should not be allowed to sell any more public assets during this period of administration. The Wallarah Bay Recreation Club is a member of the Wyong Leagues Group which owns 11 clubs across NSW. Let’s hope the council does a better job of negotiating a fair price for this land than it has in previous negotiations.

  • Part 2-4, Park Road, The Entrance

This massive piece of public land in the heart of The Entrance is also subject to a rezoning at the same time it is being put forward for reclassification even though Central Coast Council is not supposed to pre-empt the outcome of the reclassification. CEN understands another major club group wishes to “develop” this land either via a long-term lease or acquisition. Either way, the council intends to rezone it from “public” recreation to “private recreation”. We do not believe that aligns to council’s statements that this reclassification would not change the public’s access to this land.

  • 20 Summerland Road, Summerland Point

Yet another large piece of public land that includes a recreation club. What is Central Coast Council’s intention in relation to the need to reclassify this land? As the northern reaches of the Central Coast are opened up to higher levels of development, we are going to need to retain as much green space and natural bushland as possible. If the intention is to sell or enter a long-term lease for this land, the reclassification should be held over until after the local government election in October. Residents and ratepayers deserve to have independent representatives on hand to scrutinise such deals. The opportunity costs from land sales that have taken place since October 2020 have already been too great.

Other properties are included in this BULK RECLASSIFICATION PROPOSAL. For more information or to make a submission, visit Council's Your Voice Our Coast website

CALL TO ACTION

NEXT STEPS IN THE CENTRAL COAST DESERVES A BETTER PLAN CAMPAIGN

Thank you for attending the launch of the Community Environment Network’s The Central Coast Deserves a Better Plan campaign. We hope you agree with our assessment that the NSW Government needs to take action to fix the Central Coast Local Environmental Plan 2022 (CCLEP2022). Now we need your help to tell the relevant NSW Ministers and local MPs that this is an URGENT and IMPORTANT issue that the Central Coast community wants to see fixed. Throughout February and March, we will be encouraging the whole Central Coast community to take the following steps in support of our campaign:

  1. Phone or email your local NSW State MP. They are:

The Entrance, David Mehan MP email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Ph 02 4334 1012

Wyong, The Hon David Harris, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Ph 02 4352 2711

Gosford, Liesl Tesch MP, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Ph 02 4342 4122

Terrigal, Adam Crouch MP, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Ph 02 4365 1906

Swansea, Yasmin Catley, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Ph 02 4972 1133

 

  1. Email one, or all, of the following Senior members of the NSW Government setting out your concerns:

NSW Premier, The Hon Chris Minns MP, email via this contact form: https://www.nsw.gov.au/nsw-government/premier-of-nsw/contact-premier, Ph 02 7225 6000

NSW Minister for Planning, The Hon Paul Scully MP, email via this contact form: https://www.nsw.gov.au/nsw-government/ministers/minister-for-planning-and-public-spaces, 02 7225 6080

NSW Minister for Local Government, The Hon Ron Hoenig, email via this contact form: https://www.nsw.gov.au/ministers/minister-for-local-government, Ph: 02 7225 6150

NSW Minister for the Environment, The Hon Penny Sharpe, MLC, email via this contact form: https://www.nsw.gov.au/nsw-government/ministers/minister-environment-heritage Ph: 02 7225 6020

Some tips:

  1. When you use the Minister’s feedback forms, remember to tick the box that says “I would like a response”.
  2. You can either type your message for the Minister into the “message” area (max 10,000 characters) or you can write your message as a letter and then attach it as a file.
  3. It is always good to follow up an email with a phone call to the Minister’s office to make sure it has been received!
  4. PLEASE TURN OVER FOR POINTS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR EMAILS, CONVERSATIONS AND PHONE CALLS
  5. Please talk to your family, friends, neighbours, and networks and encourage others to write to their MPs and Ministers
  6. Stay up to date with our campaign via https://www.facebook.com/communityenvironmentnetwork

Or by using this QR code

PLEASE CONSIDER USING SOME OF THE FOLLOWING KEY POINTS IN YOUR CONVERSATIONS WITH, AND EMAILS TO, MPs AND NSW GOVERNMENT MINISTERS

POINTS FOR THE PREMIER, CHRIS MINNS

  1. Will the Premier consider adopting CEN’s recommendations regarding the Deferred Lands and problems with CCLEP 2022; suspend Central Coast Council’s planning powers and use a planning proposal to review and fix CCLEP 2022; place a moratorium on all rezonings, State Significant Developments (SSDs) and developments that involve C2, C3 and C4 land until CCLEP 2022 is amended; defer, review and readvertise the Deferred Lands Planning Proposal if Council continues down the path to rezone the 7(a) to C3 and the 7(c2) to C4.
  1. The Central Coast community was promised a brand new, comprehensive Local Environmental Plan as an outcome of council amalgamation almost eight years ago. Can the Premier please tell the community when it will be given a new, comprehensive LEP?
  2. The Central Coast Local Government Area has been under administration since October 2020 and all sorts of inappropriate planning decisions have been made without community representation. Will the Premier please authorise the Minister for Local Government and Minister for Planning to take steps to stop further inappropriate Planning Proposals, State Significant Developments and inappropriate uses on Conservation Land, at least until after the council election in September 2024?
  3. Will the Premier make a public statement to reassure the Central Coast Community that his government will review the inappropriate interpretations and uses of the C2, C3 and C4 Conservation Zones on the Central Coast?

POINTS FOR THE MINISTER FOR PLANNING, PAUL SCULLY

  1. Will the Minister consider adopting CEN’s recommendations regarding the Deferred Lands and problems with CCLEP 2022; suspend Central Coast Council’s planning powers and use a planning proposal to review and fix CCLEP 2022; place a moratorium on all rezonings, State Significant Developments (SSDs) and developments that involve C2, C3 and C4 land until CCLEP 2022 is amended; defer, review and readvertise the Deferred Lands Planning Proposal if Council continues down the path to rezone the 7(a) to C3 and the 7(c2) to C4.
  1. Over $500 million worth of development has been derailed because the Central Coast Local Environmental Plan 2022 (CCLEP2022) is not fit for purpose. Can Minister Scully please commit to an independent review of the CCLEP. Until such a review is completed, can Minister Scully please suspend the approval of any Conservation Zone (C2, C3 and C4) rezonings (Planning proposals) and clearing of native flora on any development sites that may have been given consent under CCLEP2022.
  2. Can Minister Scully assure the residents, ratepayers and business owners of the Central Coast that he will refuse the Planning Proposal for Deferred Matters Lands in the former Gosford LGA in its current form, review the concerns raised by CEN and re-exhibit the Planning Proposal after the September election?
  3. Can Minister Scully assure the Central Coast community that his department will investigate CEN’s observations that Central Coast Council is currently carrying out unlawful activities on Conservation (C2) land?

POINTS FOR THE MINISTER FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT, RON HOENIG

  1. Will the Minister undertake to investigate the concerns expressed by CEN in its correspondence with the Minister regarding potential breaches of the Central Coast Council’s Code of Conduct in relation to the Administrator’s failure to address major issues raised by a respected community group in a timely manner?
  2. Will the Minister agree to work with the other relevant Ministers to ensure Central Coast Council is using the Conservation Zones (C2, C3 and C4) in an appropriate manner.

POINTS FOR THE MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT, PENNY SHARPE

  1. Will the Minister investigate CEN’s concerns about alleged breaches of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and Environmental Planning and Assessment Act in relation to the illegal clearing and unlawful uses on C2 land at Central Coast Airport and Porters Creek Wetland?
  2. Will the Minister agree to work with the other relevant Ministers to ensure the Central Coast Council’s interpretation of the objectives and uses of land zoned C2, C3, and C4 is appropriate for Conservation land?

THE BEST EMAILS ARE WRITTEN IN YOUR OWN WORDS. FEEL FREE TO USE OTHER MATERIAL FROM OUR WEBSITE VIA THIS QR CODE

THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THIS CAMPAIGN

READ ON FOR CAMPAIGN BACKGROUND

 

 

 

“CENTRAL COAST LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL PLAN (CCLEP 2022) NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE”

NSW GOVERNMENT MUST SUSPEND CENTRAL COAST COUNCIL’S PLANNING POWERS AND FIX OUR LEP

Every Council in NSW has a Local Environmental Plan (LEP) that sets out the rules for how land can be used but the Central Coast’s LEP is different from every other council in the state – and it’s broken.

That is why the Community Environment Network (CEN) has declared the Central Coast Local Environmental Plan 2022 (CCLEP 2022) “fundamentally flawed” and asked the NSW Planning Minister, The Hon Paul Scully MP, to intervene and give the Central Coast A Better Plan.

Bad news for nature, community and developers

The CCLEP 2022 is fundamentally flawed when it comes to the implementation of the Conservation Zones (C2, C3 and C4) that are intended to protect threatened and endangered species and their habitat.

The Conservation Zones are also supposed to give landholders and developers certainty as to what they can and cannot do with land.

Our Council’s use of Conservation Zones is based on inaccurate mapping and inappropriate land uses.

Central Coast Council’s misinterpretation of C2, C3 and C4 zones means CCLEP 2022 is FAILING TO PROTECT:

  • Threatened species,
  • Wildlife corridors, 
  • Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

It is FAILING TO GIVE clear boundaries and delineation of where development should or should not take place.

Case studies

Inaccurate mapping has already resulted in development footprints encroaching on the habitat of endangered species because the boundaries of the C2 zone that was supposed to protect that habitat were in the wrong place.

1. St Philips’ Christian Education Foundation Limited at Lake Haven planned a $425 million State Significant Development that has been thrown into uncharted territory.  The proposed building footprint is located where the critically endangered ground orchid Corunastylis branwhiteorum and the threatened orchid Genoplesium insignis have been recorded. CEN thinks it is negligent that critically endangered and threatened orchids were recorded on specific sites but not considered when defining the C2 zone boundary.  If they had been considered part of the C2 zone, the current development uncertainty would have been avoided.  

2. A $67.7 million expansion of the Woolworths Regional Distribution Centre at Warnervale has been put on hold because Central Coast Council failed to include threatened species as a selection criterion in the C2 zone. The development has been refused by the Federal Minister for Environment due to the presence of the critically endangered Sun Orchid Thelymitra adorate.

Action Needed Now!

CEN hopes the $500 million of development put on hold because of the CCLEP 2022 will be reason enough for the NSW Planning Minister, Paul Scully, to take our concerns seriously. We are concerned that the volume of land clearing that has taken place in the former Wyong Shire since the adoption of CCLEP 2022 may mean significant other threatened species and their habitat have already been destroyed.

Minister Scully must suspend Central Coast Council’s planning powers and amend CCLEP 2022 to include threatened species, Aboriginal heritage, and ensure the zoning boundaries are accurate.

CEN is calling upon the NSW Government to act immediately and take the following steps:

  1. Adopt CEN’s recommendations regarding the Deferred Lands and problems with CCLEP 2022;
  2. Suspend Central Coast Council’s planning powers;
  3. Use a planning proposal to review and fix CCLEP 2022;
  4. Place a moratorium on all rezonings, State Significant Developments (SSDs) and developments that involve C2, C3 and C4 land until CCLEP 2022 is amended;
  5. Defer, review and readvertise the Deferred Lands Planning Proposal if Council continues down the path to rezone the 7(a) to C3 and the 7(c2) to C4.

Finding the flaws

CEN uncovered these flaws in Central Coast Council’s interpretation and use of Conservation Zones under CCLEP when researching the recently exhibited planning proposal for the zoning of Deferred Land matters in the former Gosford City local government area.

CCLEP 2022 was exhibited publicly before it was adopted but it was only when we looked deeply at the different conservation land models used by the former Gosford City and Wyong Shire Councils, and how those models were then applied under CCLEP 2022, that we detected these issues.

Deferred lands

As CEN has already stated in its submission and media releases, Council has misled the public into thinking its planning proposal for deferred lands in the southern areas of the Coast is “like for like”.

In fact, if adopted, it will result in the rezoning of 7(c2) land, which should be C3 land, to C4 – opening that land to inappropriate uses such as brothels and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres.

Deferred lots of land currently zoned 7(a) should be zoned C2 - the highest level of protection outside a National Park). Council has proposed they be rezoned to C3. This means conservation land, if zoned C3, could end up being used for an animal breeding facility – a completely inappropriate land use.”

Stop clearing bush

CCLEP 2022 must not be used to determine which land in the north of the LGA is appropriate for development because mapping inaccuracies could result in the clearing of ecologically sensitive land.

This could see Council and developers in breach of multiple laws. The flaws in the LEP are bad news for developers too.

The inaccurate mapping and lack of criteria used to define the C2 zone in the former Wyong LGA will substantially increase development costs, delays and uncertainty.

What we’ve done

CEN has been ringing alarm bells about the flaws in CCLEP 2022 for months, writing to Central Coast Council Administrator, Rik Hart, Minister for the Central Coast, The Hon David Harris, and all other local State MPs.

CEN has met council staff and one Member of the NSW Legislative Council (MLC) regarding its concerns.

Mr Hart has fobbed off our questions and concerns and Minister Harris has told us this issue falls outside his portfolio responsibility.

Thankfully Minister Harris and Liesl Tesch MP, state Member for Gosford, have referred our concerns to NSW Planning Minister, Paul Scully, and the Department of Planning.

Mr Scully’s office has confirmed receipt of the Members’ representation, but it will take three weeks to get a response.

Minister Harris also referred our concerns to NSW Local Government Minister, Ron Hoenig, and the Department regarding Council’s lack of action.

Meanwhile, CEN believes the community deserves to know about the fundamental flaws in the CCLEP 2022.

We’ve already held two public meetings to discuss how these problems will open land to inappropriate uses when it should be protected in the former Gosford LGA. Over 100 people attended those meetings.

What you can do

CEN is now asking for community support for its campaign: Central Coast Deserves a Better Plan.

We were promised that a positive outcome of merging Wyong and Gosford councils would be a brand new Comprehensive Local Environmental Plan for the region.

Instead, eight years later, we are stuck with a mish-mash of the LEPs of two former councils that doesn’t work.

Please join our campaign.

  1. Attend our launch – on Tuesday, 13 February at 7pm, Lecture Theatre LT101, Ourimbah Campus of Newcastle University - RVSP via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  2. Spread the word – Share our facebook posts with your friends and networks
  3. Letter box drop – Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will set you up with flyers and a territory
  4. Letters and emails – We need as many people as possible to email their local MP, Minister Scully and Premier Minns to tell them the Central Coast Deserves a Better Plan. Feel free to use information from this page or our facebook posts but make sure you also use your own words and ask for a response.
  5. Make appointments – Make an appointment to meet your local MP and tell them in person why the Central Coast Deserves A Better Plan!
  6. Share our infographics – They will be rolled out in coming weeks via our facebook page

Enough is enough! It is eight years since Central Coast residents and ratepayers were told that merging our councils would result in more funding, lower rates and better services. Now our natural assets – endangered and threatened species and their habitat, wildlife corridors and Aboriginal heritage, are being destroyed by a dysfunctional Local Environmental Plan.

CEN DOES NOT SUPPORT the exhibited Draft Central Coast Airport Masterplan. In fact, we’ve recommended that the masterplan be withdrawn as it is neither a balanced nor transparent document that enables the community to make fully-informed submissions.

We appreciate that the council has a duty of care to prepare a masterplan for the ongoing operations of the airstrip. However, the aim of the exhibited draft masterplan completely omits the fact the airport is physically linked by its operations to a state significant coastal wetland.

The masterplan must be amended to recognize the biodiversity values and contribution of the Porters Creek Wetland to Tuggerah Lakes and the whole Central Coast environment.

CEN contends that the council has a duty of case to prepare a masterplan for Porters Creek Wetland. We believe the strategic objectives of the wetland formed part of a Conservation Agreement with the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) that was canned by our council-under-administration in 2021.

The exhibited draft masterplan refers to ecological assessments conducted by AEP and de Witt Ecology. We have informally asked for those assessments to be made public and the council has refused. CEN believes the studies must be proactively released as part of the current consultation process.

Please read our whole submission (below) and help us to achieve permanent protection for Porters Creek Wetland before any airport expansion is approved by writing your own submission, in your own words, using the points raised in ours. Make sure you send your submission to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.u before the closing date on 13 February 2024.

Here's our full submission:

Although the Central Coast Airport (CCA) has a contentious history, the CEN has never formally opposed the operation of the airfield as it has a valid consent to operate a 970 metre length runway. CEN recognises that, as the CCA is a Council Asset, Council not only has the authority to prepare a Masterplan but it has a duty of care to prepare a Masterplan for its ongoing operation.

After undertaking a comprehensive review and analysis of the documents available on Council’s Your Voice Our Coast website and having the opportunity to review CEN’s library and records which contain various GIPA documents, the CEN does not support the exhibited Draft Central Coast Airport Masterplan. The CEN strongly recommends that the Masterplan be withdrawn as it is neither a balanced nor transparent document that enables the community to make fully informed submissions.

The CEN makes the request to withdraw the current Draft Central Coast Airport Masterplan on the following grounds.

1. Purpose and Objectives of the Master Plan

It is noted the purpose of the Masterplan is that:

Council is aiming to develop the Central Coast Airport into a general aviation hub which integrates aviation, technology, education, and business, and provides opportunities for interaction, collaboration, and alliances in the general aviation sector.

The above aim completely omits the fact that the airport is physically linked by its operation to the state significant coastal wetland under State Environmental Planning Policy Resilience and Hazards (SEPP R & H) which is locally referred to as Porters Creek Wetland. Therefore, the aim should be amended to read:

Council is aiming to develop the Central Coast Airport into a general aviation hub which integrates aviation, technology, education, and business, and provides opportunities for interaction, collaboration, and alliances in the general aviation sector while recognising the biodiversity values and contribution of the Porters Creek Wetland to Tuggerah Lakes and the wider Central Coast Environment.

The rationale for amending the aim is that Porters Creek Wetland is the region’s largest freshwater wetland, a backup water supply during drought and the lungs of the Tuggerah Lakes, Wyong River and Porters Creek catchment. Wetlands are now known to be critical for extracting and storing carbon from the earth’s atmosphere.

In 2021 the Central Coast Council under administration halted a Conservation Agreement (CA) with the Biodiversity Conservation Trust of NSW (BCT) to permanently protect Porters Creek Wetland. At the time CEN wrote to and met with Mr Persson and senior members of council’s planning and environment staff to express our opposition to the council’s withdrawal from the CA. Since that time Central Coast Council under administration has invested time, resources and money into master planning for the airport without first fulfilling its legal obligations to protect the wetland.

Stonewalling and misleading information about the “need for further consultation with neighbouring landholders” was offered as an excuse for council not finalising the CA.

As Council has a duty of care to prepare a Masterplan for the Airport, CEN contends that Council equally has a duty of care to prepare a Masterplan strategy for Porters Creek Wetland. CEN understands that the Masterplan or strategic long term plan for the Porters Creek Wetland was incorporated into the management objectives contained within the abandoned CA with the BCT.

The CEN contests that preparation of the Masterplan for the airport must have equal weight with the management objectives contained with the CA with the BCT.

The draft masterplan states:

“All development on the airport site must consider the findings and recommendations of the ecological assessments undertaken by AEP and de Witt Ecology”.

However, the documents on exhibition do not include the AEP and de Witt Ecology studies. This makes it impossible for the community and environmental stakeholders, such as CEN, to make a fully informed response to the current Draft Airport Masterplan exhibition.

On the 16 January 2024, the CEN lodge and Informal Access Request for Information to view the environmental studies. On 17 January 2024, CEN was informed that a Formal Access to Information Request under the GIPA Act was required to view the documents. We believe these documents must form part of the exhibition for the airport Masterplan and, in the interests of transparency, we call for their immediate proactive release via the Your Voice Our Coast website.

Two areas colour-coded indigo in the draft Masterplan, located to the west and east of the current ALA, have been earmarked as either additional wetland or additional industrial land, pending how much demand there is for this new general aviation hub. This land is currently zoned C2 – Environmental Conservation. This is the highest level of protection available under the NSW

standard planning instrument to protect sensitive endangered ecological communities and their habitat.

The exhibited draft Masterplan does not explain the current status of the “investigation areas”, the potential loss of biodiversity involved if they were to be added to the airport expansion or the process involved in rezoning this land. These omissions from the current exhibition again make it impossible for the community and stakeholders to provide fully informed feedback on the current proposal.

The draft masterplan states that:

“Whilst passenger services at CCA are not envisaged in the foreseeable future (for at least 10 years), it would be prudent to reserve land for this purpose. The Master Plan includes a site for this purpose on the west side of the runway”.

The draft masterplan documents placed on public exhibition fail to explain that a rezoning (planning proposal) would be required as the proposed land use – an airport passenger terminal – definitely is not permitted with consent on land zoned C2 Environmental Conservation. We believe Central Coast Council has a legal obligation to provide the full facts to the public before it can legitimately move forward with any plans to expand the airport that impact negatively on endangered ecological communities, threatened species or wildlife corridors. CEN believes all three would be placed at grave risk if this proposal is adopted and approved by NSW Planning.

A 250m public safety area boundary which is supposed to keep foot traffic and aircraft at safe distances from each other would appear to prohibit passive recreation or any recreation in a substantial part of the existing wetland even though passive recreation is a permitted use on C2 land.

The long-term viability of Porters Creek Wetland is already under threat due directly to the actions of both Central Coast Council and the NSW Government. Promised stormwater management, which was a condition of allowing more development in the Porters Creek catchment, was replaced in 2021-22 with “nature-based solutions” although the specifics of Central Coast Council’s “nature-based” approach to stormwater management has never been made clear to the public.

Porters Creek Wetland is classified as operational land which means it can currently be sold without community consultation. Council’s executive leadership team have made public statements that PCW cannot be reclassified from operational to community land (necessary to underpin its long-term security) until the airport Masterplan and expansion is complete. CEN believes this position is legally precarious for Central Coast Council, which has legal obligations to ensure its actions are ecologically sustainable and cannot knowingly damage or destroy native flora and fauna under the BCA. CEN recommends that the Airport Masterplan be deferred until Porters Creek Wetland is reclassified as community land.

2. Master Plan Context - (Historical Context)

With all due respect, the information provided under section 2.1 Historical Background, does not provide a true and accurate record of the airport’s history. In fact, by being aware of the history, the current information appears to be a blatant attempt to rewrite history to justify a specific outcome rather than present facts to enable the broader community to make and informed decision on acceptance or rejection of the Masterplan.

The CEN recommends the following or similar wording be included in a revised Masterplan:

Central Coast Airport (also known as Warnervale Airport) was opened in 1973 following engagement by a local group of aviation enthusiasts with Wyong Shire Council to rezone an area of land for the establishment of a landing area for recreational flying activities.

The airport was operated solely by the Central Coast Aero Club until the 1980s when a land swap was negotiated with Wyong Shire Council whereby the Aero Club consolidated the area around their club rooms and Council assumed ownership of the runway and movement areas. Council completed sealing works and the provision of utilities to the airport site and contracted Central Coast Aero Club to conduct regular maintenance activities.

In 1993 a master plan was developed for the airport which proposed the extension of the runway to cater for regular passenger services and a freight hub. There was opposition to these proposals which culminated in a political intervention with the establishment of the Warnervale Airport Restriction Act 1996 (WAR Act) in NSW State Parliament. The WAR Act curtailed the ability for Wyong Shire Council to develop the airport site beyond limited maintenance work.

In 2015 the activities of the former Wyong Shire Council (WSC) ignited a contentious expansion of the CCA without undertaking proper environmental assessment in accordance with both lodging a Development Application (DA) with and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for clearing of native swamp vegetation within land zoned C2 Environmental Conservation and the clearing of native vegetation in the State Environmental Planning Policy Resilience and Hazards (SEPP R & H) – Coastal Wetland of Porter’s Creek. The need to lodge an EIS with the DA is required pursuant to clause 2.6(2) of the SEPP R & H.

In addition, to breaching the requirement to lodge a DA with and EIS for the clearing of native vegetation the former WSC failed to undertake the proper environmental assessment in the extension and upgrading of the runway from 970 metres to 1196 meters. In 2015 the Department of Planning determined that the extension and upgrading of the runway was an ‘activity’ and was in breach of Section 5.1 and 5.5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP & A Act). Furthermore, as the extension of and upgrading of the runway changes the scale of the airport from a Category 1 airfield to a Category 2 airfield with enables passenger aircraft to use the airfield results in a significant change is scale of operation.

Consequently, pursuant to section 5.7(1)(a) of the EP & A Act when Council should have undertaken the environmental assessment it should have prepared an EIS in the prescribed form and manner. Due to the multiple breaches of the EP & A Act the former WSC was fined $3,000 and the Department sought a formal undertaking from Council to carry out remediation works.

Recognising that Council had to prepare a plan to undertake remediation works the Council resolved on 8 July 2019 under minute 659/19:

That a report be prepared and submitted to Council on the following:

a Council undertaking remediation on land that was formerly part of Lot 26 DP 1159349 that was reportedly cleared in or around August/September 2015 and subject to correspondence with the Department of Planning

b Council developing a replanting plan in consultation with an ecologist prior to undertaking the remediation in minute number 659/19 part (a) above with such a plan specifying the proposed planting (species, size, number and location) as well as measures to ensure the plants are properly established and monitored.

 Furthermore, under minute no 660/19 Council resolved:

That Council request the Chief Executive Officer:

a Ensure that Council not cause or permit mowing, slashing or trimming of vegetation within 100 metres of the land referred to in minute number 659/19 part (a) without first obtaining consent or carrying out environmental assessment as required under the EP & A Act.

b Ensure that Development applications and/or any activities (as defined under the EP & A Act) on land owned or under the care control and management of Council within 200 metres of the northern boundary of Warnervale Airport and 200 metres from the southern end of the runway are referred to Council for determination.

In addition, under minute no 661/19 Council resolved:

That the report referred to in minute item 659/19 above be submitted to the Ordinary Council meeting on or prior to 26 August 2019.

In February 2021, the NSW State Parliament voted to repeal the WAR Act along with the immediate lifting of any flight restrictions. The review report also made recommendations for Central Coast Council to develop and adopt a framework for the future of the airport and act to reduce the obstacle risk of trees located on final approach at the northern end of the runway.

On 23 November 2021, the Council resolved to rescind minute no 660/19 (a). However, all other resolutions 659/19 (a) & (b), 660/19(b) and 661/19 still remain which means extension and upgrading of the runway from 970 to a greater distance will require:

i. The lodgement of a DA and EIS for the clearing of native vegetation in the coastal wetland and

ii. The preparation of an EIS to consider the environmental and social issues associated with changing the airport from a Category 1 Airport to a Category 2 Airport.

 The airport continues to provide value to the community through:

• Recreational flying and hangarage

• Flight training

• Community events

• Medical and emergency services.

3. Master Plan Context - (Airservices Australia)

It is noted on page 11 of the Draft Central Coast Airport Masterplan it contains a copy of the aerodrome information, and the current plate within ESA for Warnervale (CCA). It is noted within this document that it states the Runway length is 1,193 metres. Notwithstanding that Airservices Australia records the Runway length at 1,193 metres, as discussed above, under the EP & A Act the length of the approved runway is only 970 metres.

A statement needs to be included in a revised Central Coast Airport Masterplan that the approved runway length is only 970 metres.

4. Council’s failure to present a complete and cogent business case as part of the exhibition.

CEN’s mission is to stand up for Ecologically Sustainable Development and oppose threats to it. The Local Government Act 1993 also places an obligation upon local government to examine the ecological sustainability of its decisions. There is no triple bottom-line analysis provided as part of this exhibition. Thus, the community and stakeholders are being asked to provide feedback without being given access to the information needed to determine even the financial sustainability of this proposal, let alone its ecological sustainability.

There is a distinct lack of evidence in the public domain that there is any demand for a general aviation hub on the Coast. The information available via the Your Voice Our Coast website does not include the results of the 2022 Request for Information (RFI).

Council advertised a Request for Information (RFI) from the general aviation industry about whether it would be interested in using a general aviation hub at Warnervale. The results have never been released. However, council is conducting a further round of aviation consultation concurrently with the public exhibition. Does this mean the response rate to the RFI was low? The Your Voice Our Coast website implies the outcome of the RFI is available as part of this consultation but the results appear to never have been made public.

The main increase in use of the ALA between 2018 and 2022 has been pilot training. This means the privately operated pilot school and the small number of aero club enthusiasts would be the big winners if the proposed Masterplan were to be adopted.

The results of a phone-based survey with a small sample size of 600 residents are summarised but Council has never released the results of its RFI.

Council under administration has allocated $4 million to fund the currently exhibited Masterplan. It’s not clear whether all that money has already been spent on this 52-page document on exhibition.

The airport is currently uncertified, having a Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) classification of an Aircraft Landing Area (ALA). The masterplan assumes that it will become a 2B aerodrome. No budget or cost estimates have been given as part of the exhibition to determine the outlay of funds required.

Costs include new wind direction indicators, aircraft parking areas, hangar developments, helicopter areas, fencing and preparation of a new ANEF. All these costs are part of Stage 1 of the Masterplan, to take place in the next five years. These activities should not have been placed on exhibition without any indicative costings. The absence of a business case or costings makes it impossible for the public and stakeholders to provide fully informed feedback. CEN recommends the current draft Masterplan should be withdrawn from exhibition and council staff sent back to the drawing board. The Masterplan should not be reexhibited without a fully costed business case.

Stage 2 – the medium-term part of the Masterplan – has no specific timeline (it may move ahead concurrently with stage 1 if the Masterplan is adopted). There are no indicative costings for example, to finance the expansion of the airport to the other side of Jack Grant Ave. The draft Masterplan includes measurements for a taxiway upgrade of 0.4km or 3689.7 square metres but no costs, even indicative, are given for this work.

The draft Masterplan mentions that there may be a need for a passenger terminal after 10 years. The draft masterplan fails to explain the demand triggers that would determine the need for a passenger terminal and the upgrades and costings required to bring such a proposal to fruition.

The draft Masterplan explains that the council will need to “ensure that future taxiway upgrades provide a suitable strength rating for planned design aircraft to avoid pavement concessions and risk of taxiway damage”. No costings are provided for this work so it is difficult for stakeholders to comment on whether or not such an investment represents good value for money. Various other facilities upgrades may be required over the life of this draft plan to service the growth of the airport, including:

· perimeter road;

· ARO facilities;

· Automated Weather Station;

· Car parking;

· Helicopter facilities.

The exhibited document gives some information regarding the location and staging of these facility upgrades but gives absolutely no information about how they will be paid for or what they are likely to cost.

The development of the Western Precinct (currently zoned C2 Environmental Conservation) will require new road access from Sparks Road and will be subject to a future investigation. The design of new facilities, such as new hangar areas, must ensure that private vehicle access to such areas is landside and not airside. No indicative costings or information about the source of funds is provided in the exhibited documents.

The draft Masterplan has been based on the work of a “range of specialist consultants … based on quadruple bottom line analysis”. CEN believes that whole quadruple bottom line analysis should have been placed on exhibition as part of the current consultation.

CEN, along with other stakeholders and the general public, cannot determine whether or not this draft Masterplan is the best possible use of public money for the Central Coast. We can, however, draw your attention to Council Resolution 1108/20: “any motions put before Council for the remainder of this term of Council that have financial implications require the Chief Executive Officer to provide a report on how those additional costs will be met.”

The only information provided by the CEO in relation to the resolution passed to put this Masterplan on exhibition was, “the cost of community consultation and aviation market engagement is included in Council’s adopted 2023/24 Budget.” The community deserves to know how much the short-term proposal to upgrade the ALA to meet CASA standards will cost and where that money will come from. The draft Masterplan needs to be withdrawn from exhibition and reworked for a future exhibition that includes a full business case and budget.

Likewise, we believe the cost to ratepayers of the land swap between Central Coast Council and the Aero Club should be placed in the public domain as part of this consultation process.

5. Council’s failure to explain and justify the proposed ‘stewardship site’ for Porters Creek Wetland.

Figure 2 gives “indicative” boundary realignment for the runway and an indicative subdivision of aviation lands and employment lands from Porters Creek Wetland. The draft Masterplan must show the actual boundary realignment so stakeholders can have a full understanding of the implications for the future viability of the airport.

The Masterplan on exhibition shows a map of a proposed ‘Stewardship Site’ for Porters Creek Wetland but there is no information, apart from that map, about the future of Porters Creek Wetland. The public has been informed that it is welcome to provide feedback on the proposed stewardship site yet, apart from a map and “indicative” boundaries, no information has been given. If surveys of flora and fauna have been conducted, they should have been placed on exhibition as part of this consultation. If they have not been conducted, the consultation is premature. The draft Masterplan should be withdrawn from exhibition until the surveys and all biodiversity assessments have been conducted.

Exhibiting a draft Masterplan to develop or encroach on conservation land without disclosing the biodiversity value of that land is an example of mismanagement on behalf of Central Coast Council. How can stakeholders and residents assess the costs and benefits of the draft Masterplan without such detailed information?

Central Coast Council must release the full details of the proposed new Stewardship Site and re-advertise the Masterplan in complete form. For instance, does the stewardship site cover a larger or smaller area that the previously proposed Conservation Agreement? Will it give the wetland more or less protection than the proposed 2020 Conservation Agreement? If the airport masterplan is going to be a “benchmark for environmentally sensitive and sustainable development in the region” why has it gone on exhibition without releasing the stewardship site information?

6. Timing

Has Central Coast Council planned this exhibition to minimise public participation? It was scheduled for exhibition, according to council’s summary of community engagement activities, during Quarter Three, January to March 2024. The Masterplan document history shows it has been in circulation since June but was only ready for community input over the Christmas holiday.

During 2023 consultations have been held with six stakeholder groups including the aero club, plane owners, runway users etc. Residents and ratepayers have not been part of those consultations. A town hall style meeting was hosted by the aero club and attended by 40 people in person and another 12 digital attendees. More consultation is taking place with the aviation sector while the plan is on public exhibition.

The council has not seen the need for public meetings, information sessions or any other types of consultation during the public exhibition period. It is up to the community to look carefully at this plan and ask questions.

Since late 2020, when Central Coast Council was placed under administration, both interim administrator Dick Persson and current administrator Rik Hart have adopted staff recommendations to push forward the expansion of the airport. Between 2017 and 2020, the first elected Central Coast Council, with substantial community support, stopped spending rate payer funds on the airport and sought to find a better economic use for the land.

The standing resolution on Council’s books is that “Council authorise the Chief Executive Officer to immediately suspend the development of the Warnervale Conservation Agreement and any agreement with the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust to permanently protect the Porters Creek Wetland until the Airport Masterplan, plan of Management and a subdivision plan is registered that subdivides the Wetland and surrounding C2 land from the employment land in Warnervale”.

What is the timeframe for delivery of permanent protection of Porters Creek Wetland? It will be another three years before council determines whether future investigation areas are suitable for development or stewardship.

According to the draft plan, actual implementation and timing of proposed developments and upgrades will depend on demand triggers, an assessment of forecast market conditions, commercial discussions, and approval processes. CEN appreciates that a masterplan is intended to be a strategic document. However, it is surely preferable to give estimates of what those demand triggers might be so the community can decide how soon impacts will arrive.

7. Inaccurate and misleading information

The current approved runway is not 1200 metres but is 970 metres. As Council is aware the current runway was unlawfully constructed by the former WSC and it was punished for doing so. Then the first elected Central Coast Council reinstated the approved length and that resolution has never been fully rescinded. The draft Masterplan needs to be modified in accordance with legal requirements because even though the photos in the draft masterplan are correct the content about runway length is incorrect.

Figure 45 in the Draft Central Coast Airport Masterplan which represents an artist impression of stage 2 – Medium Term is misleading as it presents a false representation of future land use. Figure 45 must be deleted from the Masterplan.

8. Noise and suitability of site

The draft masterplan notes that “residential developments adjacent to airports and under flight paths may lead to complaints about aircraft” and recommends no such developments within the footprint of an airport.

The draft Masterplan does not include flight path maps, even ‘indicative’ in the exhibited document so it’s difficult to know which suburbs (existing and new) will be impacted and to what degree.

The Central Coast Local Environment Plan (CCLEP 2022) does include a clause about development in areas subject to aircraft noise. If this Masterplan is adopted, one of its recommendations is that N-contours (n for noise) “should be incorporated into the planning framework in a way that gives them proper and appropriate effect, at least as an additional strategic planning consideration over and above the ANEF contours and AS2021.” When will residents already living or planning to buy around the airport have the ANEF contours or have an explanation of AS2021 that they can understand?

The ‘windshear assessment envelope’ which is included in the exhibited draft plan would appear to place substantial limits on what can be built on the general industrial land around the current ALA but there is no information about future impediments to development included for public consideration. If employment growth on the industrial land is a priority for council, it needs to better explain how expansion of land use for employment works hand-in-hand with the constraints required for airport safety.

Thank you for taking the time to review our submission, we sincerely hope all matters raised will be taken seriously by staff and fully addressed in the subsequent report to Council on this consultation. However, as set out, we recommend the draft Masterplan’s immediate withdrawal from exhibition until all outstanding matters are addressed.

The Community Environment Network (CEN) has announced the winners of the 2023 BE A TEAM (B.A.T) Awards at its annual Networking Night on Friday, 17 November, 2023.

Deputy Chair of CEN, Mr John Asquith OAM, said the awards used the terminology of cricket to emphasise the importance of teamwork and showing up when working to protect nature and advocating for sustainability.

“I have observed over my career how many times just being there to say ‘hey …why is that wetland being cleared or filled in?’ Just being there to say such things can prick the conscience of those who are making the decisions,” Mr Asquith said. “You can have a big influence if you are prepared to be there and you are prepared to speak out.”

Mr Asquith announced that Ursula Da Silva was the winner of this year’s BAT Award – fitting the description of “a person who has put in a valiant effort on behalf of the environment/sustainability”.

“Ursula has led Camp Ourimbah, the group campaigning to stop logging in the Ourimbah State Forest, for several years. She has been the leader caring for the state forest, its animals, plants and birds – the whole ecosystem. She has been tireless in her devotion. She has developed and educated a group of supporters and networked with other groups to end logging in native forests in NSW.

“She is inspirational and effective,” according to one of her nominees.

“Ursula has been the driving force behind Camp Ourimbah whose focus is stopping logging of native forests on the Central Coast. Currently Ourimbah State Forest is being logged. She has been a beacon of inspiration – dedicated, focused, intelligent and effective.”

From time to time CEN also presents a Special Recognition Award and this year, Richard Weller, leader of Climate Future, a group dedicated to raising awareness about the climate crisis, received Special Recognition.

The 2023 Best 12th Man or Woman Award was presented to Woy Woy Peninsula activist and President of the ACF Central Coast Group, Mark Ellis. as “somebody who has worked quietly in the background to support others in the from line and help keep them afloat”.

“Mark Ellis has been quietly ever-present at community meetings, council meetings, rallies, workshops, drop-in sessions and community consultations.

“His main interest has been the Wamberal seawall, a campaign he has been a part of since the 1990s. He is convenor of ACF Central Coast and a member of many other committees, working groups and community environmental initiatives.

“Mark is not a grand stander; he works consistently and quietly and is deserving of being this year’s 12th Man.

The 2023 Rookie of the Year Award winner, as a newcomer to the conservation movement who has contributed to the improvement of our region’s environment/sustainability, was another Woy Woy Peninsula resident and member of the Mingaletta Aboriginal Corporation at Umina, Coral Roberts.

“Coral has pulled out all stumps to campaign to protect the trees in Austin Butler AC at Woy Woy. She has letterbox dropped, handed out flyers and train stations, gathered thousands of signatures on a petition, lobbied the local MP, attended events, spoken at council meetings and even spontaneously interrogated the Administrator over tea and bickies.

“You name it, she has done it. She is truly a Champion of the Austin Butler Trees. A grandmother and a First Nations elder, she ticked all the boxed for Rookie of the Year.

The Most Outstanding Community Organisation for 2023 was Future Sooner - a group that has worked tirelessly on behalf of the environment/sustainability.

“Future Sooner is a community group that was established in September 2020 and became a member of CEN in 2023. The group lobbies MPs, holds community events, writes submissions and petitions, produces media releases, organises candidate forums, has a Facebook page and holds meetings via zoom every three weeks.

“It is committed to working towards a clean energy future for the Central Coast and Lake Macquarie. The group’s successes have included a campaign resulting in the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) capping the toxic emissions coming from the Vales Point coal-fired power station that contributes to over 650 children on the Central Coast and Lake Macquarie having asthma.

In August Future Sooner organised for the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Dr Marcus Orellana, to meet with residents at the Chain Valley Bay Community Hall. Over 100 people attended.

The group won the 2023/2024 Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) Environmental Award.

On Sunday, November 19, members of Future Sooner welcomed intrepid kayakers Tom Hunt and Dr Simon Leslie on their way Newcastle coal blockade.

Drs Ian Charlton and Merlene Thrift of Future Sooner sat down with Dr Simon Leslie to talk about the health issues facing the Central Coast from coal-fired power stations like Vales Point.

On November 21, Future Sooner members travelled to the NSW Parliament to be present when Greens MLC, Abigail Boyd, tabled the group’s Coal petition. The group will host a community meeting with Tony Chappel, CEO  of the EPA, at the Chain Valley Bay Community Hall on 1 December 2023.

CEN CEO, Mrs Samantha Willis, said the Network congratulated all B.A.T Award winners on their outstanding achievements in support of Nature.

“Our B.A.T Award winners are extraordinary people and groups who work tirelessly to uphold the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development and we are so pleased to be able to recognise their efforts,” Ms Willis said.

Dear Valued Community Environment Network Members, Friends and Supporters,

Thank you for your support throughout 2023 and for all the work your group does for nature and sustainability on the Central Coast and beyond. It has been another huge year for the Community Environment Network.

We would love to see representatives from your group at our annual Networking Night, 5:30pm to 7:00pm next Thursday, 16 November. This year we have decided to have a Twilight Event in our Wildplant Nursery at Ourimbah Campus of the University of Newcastle.

It is $10 to register which includes wine and cheese. This is an opportunity to meet our executive committee, staff and volunteers and network with other like-minded groups and individuals.

Please come along! Share our wins and losses, find out about our ongoing projects, programs and campaigns and enjoy an evening of camaraderie with like-minded individuals.

This event is also the announcement of our BAT AWARDS for 2023 – find out who the environmental and sustainability champions of the past 12 months have been and share us in congratulating their efforts!

Bookings via: https://cen.org.au/events/cen-event-list/815-twilight-networking-night-in-the-nursery

Thank you again for your support of CEN and your amazing work for nature.

The CEN team hopes to see you next Thursday at our Twilight Networking Night.

 Best wishes,

Gary Chestnut, CEN Chair and Samantha Willis, CEN Chief Executive Officer

Please use the following guide to shape your own submission to Central Coast Council (CCC) in response to the current Exhibition of the Deferred Matters Lands Planning Proposal. Or, if you want a bit more help with the wording of your submission use this interactive submission template!

Documents consulted in the preparation of this Submission Guide can be found here: https://www.yourvoiceourcoast.com/DeferredLands

The CCC’s Your Voice Our Coast web page also includes instructions about how to make sure your submission reaches Central Coast Council.

Please note the deadline for submissions to be received by Central Coast Council HAS BEEN EXTENDED AND IS NOW no later than 5pm on Wednesday, 15 November 2023.

The views expressed in this submission guide are those of the Community Environment Network (CEN), the Central Coast’s peak environmental organisation. CEN’s mission is to work for Ecologically Sustainable Development and against risks to ESD. We are a not-for-profit and a registered charitable gift recipient.

After undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the documents available on Council’s Your Voice Our Coast website, the CEN has concluded that it does not support the proposed incorporation of the Deferred Lands into the Central Coast Local Environment Plan 2022 (CCLEP 2022). We encourage you to use the following information to prepare you own submission.

We suggest you include a selection of the following facts and arguments in your own submission. It is important that you use your own words to ensure your submission is counted and considered by council. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact CEN prior to 8 November via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and use the email subject Deferred Lands Submission so we can provide further assistance.

KEY ARGUMENTS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR SUBMISSION

Central Coast Council has argued that the proposed rezoning is “like for like” but this is NOT the case.

Differences in the way the former Gosford City Council and Wyong Shire Council interpreted and implemented the NSW Standard Instrument have been compounded, not resolved, by the creation of the Central Coast Consolidated Local Environmental Plan 2022 (CCLEP 2022). This has resulted in the proposed rezonings in the exhibited planning proposal NOT being like for like. For example, the Planning Proposal Central Coast Deferred Lands Review of Environmental Zones for the Deferred Lands (page 11) states that 60 land parcels, with a total of 244 ha, that are currently zoned 7(a) Conservation, are recommended to be transferred to C2 Environmental Conservation. The justification for the transfer is that the 60 parcels have no development right for a residential dwelling (adopting the former WSC interpretation of residential dwellings not being permitted in the C2 zone that was carried through to CCLEP 2022).

The remaining 1264 parcels with a total area of 3477 ha will be a mixture of C2 and C3 Environmental Management. Approximately 15% (520 ha) is proposed to be zoned C2 while the majority (85%) of the 7(a) parcels (2,957 ha) are proposed to be zoned C3. 

The current minimum lot size is not proposed to be changed but the objectives and permitted land uses in the C3 zone under CCLEP 2022 mean this planning proposal would effectively rezone nearly 3,000 ha of former7(a) Conservation land into C3 which is an expanded 7(c2) zone. It is misleading for Council to be aware that 3,000 ha of former 7(a) Conservation land is to be rezoned to an expanded 7(c2) zone and yet call this process ‘like for like’

An increase in the number of land uses may increase the monetary value of the land. However, the increase from five to 34 uses changes the character of the zone by allowing more and different types of development. It places more development pressure on the land and reduces the available land left for biodiversity.

No detailed methodology is provided on how CCC split the zoning of C2 and C3 on the same parcel of land, other than its continual referral to Practice Note (PN09-002) and its opinion that the CCLEP 2022 is the ultimate planning instrument.

It is agreed that placing 7(a) deferred lands into C3 under CCLEP is “like for like” regarding subdivision, because Council is proposing a subdivision map restriction overlay which would limit the size of any future subdivision to what was permitted in 7(a). Other lands zoned C3 will have different subdivision provisions.

However, in relation to both the objectives of the zone and the permitted land uses with consent, the zoning of 7(a) deferred lands as C3 is not like for like.

Under IDO 122, 7(a) land had only five uses. Under C3 in CCLEP this explodes to 34 land uses. Some of the expanded list of land uses may not be of concern. However, animal boarding or training establishments are included in C3, and the definition allows the operation of an animal breeding facility. This means an animal breeding facility could be allowed on some of the region’s most sensitive environmental land. CCC would be fully aware of the adverse impacts and loss of amenity already experienced by residents along Ourimbah Creek Rd, Palm Grove, and Kyola Rd, Kulnura, because of this land use.

The expanded list of uses also includes building identification signs and community facilities.

CCLEP 2022 defines community facility as a building or place:

(a) owned or controlled by a public authority or non-profit community organisation, and

(b)  used for the physical, social, cultural or intellectual development or welfare of the community,

but does not include an educational establishment, hospital, retail premises, place of public worship or residential accommodation.

This definition could allow the construction of a Regional Performing Arts Centre on land once zoned 7(a) Conservation.

Because Council proposes to rezone 3,000 ha of deferred 7(a) land to C3, it has then proposed to zone  the 2,222 ha of 7(c2) deferred lands (over 2,150 parcels of land) as C4 in CCLEP 2022. A subdivision restriction overlay map means this proposed rezoning may be considered “like for like” when it comes to subdivision. Other land zoned C4 may have different subdivision restrictions.

It cannot, however, be said to be “like for like” in relation to the zone objectives or the permitted uses.  The zoning objectives for 7(c2) are aimed at promoting ecologically, socially and economically sustainable development and the need for, and value of, biodiversity. These would be replaced in C4 with the objective to provide for low-impact residential development.

Likewise, for permitted uses, land zoned 7(c2) under IDO 122 has 15 permitted uses. The C4 zone in CCLEP 2022 has 34 uses. Some of the additional uses may not be of concern. Others, such as Group Homes and Home Occupation (sex services), are at direct  odds with the objectives of 7(c2) land.

The definition of a group home allows for the operation of a Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Facility. The definition of a Home Occupation (sex services) allows the operation of a brothel for two sex service providers if they reside at the property. Areas such as Niagara Park, Lisarow, Holgate, Matcham, Erina Valley, Pickets Valley, Wamberal, Kincumber, Empire Bay, Bensville, Bouddi, Terrigal, Avoca and MacMasters Beaches could see the lodgement of development applications for drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres and brothels.

The CCC would be fully aware of the high levels of stress and anxiety experienced by the residents of Glen Rd, Ourimbah, who experiened first-hand the inclusion of a group home in a C4 area.

Even though the subdivision size does not change, it is misleading to imply that the conversion of 7(c2) land to C4 in the CCLEP is “like for like” given the change in objectives and the additional land uses.

            This planning proposal will result in the Central Coast region losing biodiversity.

Rather than concurring with the commentary in support of the draft planning proposal – that CCLEP is the ultimate planning instrument – it could be argued that CCLEP, and its implementation, are fundamentally flawed and putting the biodiversity of the Central Coast region at risk.

Some fundamental flaws in the current application of Conservation Zones by Central Coast Council can easily be uncovered by using the CCC’s own mapping systems. Let’s take, for example, the forested hills of the eastern area of Ourimbah and western area of Tumbi Umbi. Most of this area is a combination of C2 and C3 land. Using CCC’s mapping layer for Endangered Ecological Communities (EECs) reveals that the EECs do not line up with the C2 zone boundaries. In fact, there is a complete mismatch. When the contour layer on CCC’s mapping system is activated, the C2 boundaries do not match the underlying contours either.

The ecological consequences of this failure to align the boundaries of the C2 zone with the occurrence of the EECs that the zone is supposed to protect can be demonstrated by two current planning case studies where the mismanagement of the C2 zone has jeopardised biodiversity on the Central Coast. We believe these case studies demonstrate that the draft planning proposal currently on exhibition should be rejected until the CCC can demonstrate that it is able to address such misalignments.

Case study 1: Spring Creek Wetland, Thompson Vale Rd, Doyalson

In theory, Endangered Ecological Communities (EECs) and riparian vegetation should both have been protected by the C2 zone on land at Thompson Vale Rd, Doyalson. This land is known to be of high conservation value.

A detailed vegetation map was undertaken by a registered biodiversity consultant in 2018 on the land which was owned at the time by Central Coast Council. The consultant was required to map the different Plant Community Types (PCT) across the site which would have mapped EECs and any distinctive riparian vegetation. Overlaying the consultant’s PCT map with the zoning map reveals a complete mismatch between the boundaries. THE C2 ZONE HAS NOT PROTECTED ALL THE EEC ON THE SITE. The mapping of the C2 has completely missed the protection of observed and potential threatened species dependent upon the habitat across this site.

This site contained four threatened species when it was mapped by the consultant in 2018: Angophora inopina (Charmhaven Apple); Acacia bynoaana (Bynoe’s Wattle); Tetratheca juncea (Black-eyed Susan); Genoplesium insigne (Variable Midge Orchid). The NSW Atlas of threatened species lists a further four: Criniatinnula (Wallum Froglet); Calyptorhynchus lathami (Glossy black cockatoo); Petaurus macropussis (Squirrel Glider); and Pteropus poliocephalus (Grey headed flying fox).

When the consultant mapped the site in 2018 it had been subject to bushfire three weeks prior. The consultant noted that a further 11 threatened species were likely to occur on the site: Myotis macrophus (Southern Myotis); Phascogale tapoatafe (Brush-tailed Phascogale); Haliaeetus leucogaster (White bellied sea eagle); Tyto novaehollandiae (Masked owl); Ninox strenua (Powerful Owl); Ninox connivens (Barking Owl); Cercartetus nanus (Eastern Pygmy Possum); Cryptostylis hunteriana (Leafless tongue-orchid); Corunastylis sp. Charmhaven; Callistemon linearifolius (Netted Bottle Brush); and Diuris praecox (Rough Doubetail).

There are four different PCT across the site, one of which covers 75 per cent of the land and includes the threatened species Angophora inopina (Charmhaven Apple). The C2 zone, according to the Council mapping, covered only 5 per cent of the PCT that included the Charmhaven Apple. That means 70 per cent of the area containing that species was not protected by the C2 zone.

This analysis shows that CCC relying on its online mapping system to identify areas that qualify to be zoned C2 will not achieve the objective to protect, manage and restore areas of high ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic values. Nor is the council’s zoning methodology preventing development that could destroy, damage or otherwise have an adverse effect on our local biodiversity.

Case study 2: St Phillips Christian College Charmhaven

The NSW Department of Planning is currently assessing a State Significant Development (SSD) for a proposed school at Lot 2 DP 809106, Arizona Road, Charmhaven. A portion of the site is zoned C2. However, it appears that the boundaries of the C2 zone do not match those of an EEC on the site. The C2 zone is failing to protect an Endangered Ecological Community.

According to a biodiversity report submitted with the SSD, a riparian corridor that should also be within the boundaries of the C2 zone is not being protected. The report states that the C2 zoned land is located between 20 and 70 metres west of its correct position. This site contains 80 per cent of the global population of the critically endangered ground orchid Corunastylis branwhiteorum. The site has also been identified as containing a population of another ground orchid, Genoplesium insignis, which is listed in both Commonwealth and State biodiversity legislation. NEITHER GROUND ORCHID IS PROTECTED WITHIN THE C2 ZONE. In fact, it appears that both orchids are potentially located under the footprint of the proposed school building.

The C2 zone is not protecting the EEC, riparian corridor, the critically endangered ground orchid or the threatened ground orchid.

The CCLEP relying on information layers within its online mapping system to identify areas within the deferred matters lands that qualify to be zoned C2 may fail to achieve the objective to protect, manage and restore areas of high ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic value. Nor is the zoning approach preventing development that could destroy, damage or otherwise have an adverse effect on our local biodiversity.

The two case studies reveal that the mapping of the high-value conservation land in CCLEP is hit and miss with significant zoning implications. The boundary of a planning zone is not an approximate line. It has strict legal implications under the Environmental Planing and Assessment Act 1979. The approach taken by Council completely ignores the presence of any threatened or endangered flora and fauna located on 7(a) land. It completely ignores the fact that mapped EEC boundaries are based on aerial photo interpretation and not based upon site-specific analysis or ground truthing. In both case studies, each time a site-specific survey was undertaken, the boundary of both the EEC and other features intended to be captured by the C2 zone significantly changed.

Analysis of the C2 zone against Council’s EEC map layer and contour layer indicates that due to parallax error the different information layers are not aligned resulting in a complete mismatch of information. Council should not rely upon this methodology to plot the C2 Zone boundary for an ECC, slope or landscape feature that may be subject to parallax error across the 7(a) Conservation land under IDO 122.

This major fault in the way CCC determines the boundaries of Conservation zones must be addressed before any deferred matters lands are rezoned as either C2, C3 or C4 under CCLEP 2022

          This planning proposal will introduce land uses into Conservation Land Zones that are at odds with the conservation values and amenity of those lands.

Permitted land uses in C3, such as animal breeding facilities and community facilities, are at odds with the conservation values that formed the objectives of the former 7(a) land. Likewise, the permitted uses of drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities and brothels in the C4 zone do not uphold the objectives of 7(c2) deferred lands.

The draft planning proposal, if adopted, would undermine the planning principles at the heart of the Conservation zones within the NSW Standard Instrument. For example, within the former Gosford City Council local government area, there is a progression of Conservation Zones. C2 lands are often located next to C1 National Parks and Nature Reserves. From a biodiversity and scenic perspective, this progression of zones provides a high level of protection and support to the National Parks and Nature Reserves.

In the former Wyong Shire, C3 Environmental Management land is often adjacent to C1 land. This jump from C1 National Park directly to C3 can weaken and undermine the conservation values of the National Parks and Nature Reserves.

          The proposed new zonings do not deal with the Coastal Open Space System (COSS) lands well.

The NSW State Government Biodiversity and Conservation Division in the Department of Planning has informed Central Coast Council that:

“… the new zonings do not adequately or equivalently address environmental matters or deal with COSS land well.”

Although the Department of Planning’s reasons for making this statement were not given, it is true that the draft exhibited planning proposal does not deal with COSS lands well.

The former Gosford city Council managed the Coastal Open Space System (COSS) as a network of reserves supporting native vegetation to achieve environmental and community benefits.  At the time of amalgamation, the COSS network was 2,598 ha.

The COSS network is complemented and directly supported by the surrounding 3,721 ha of 7(a) Conservation land.

The current planning proposal has two direct impacts upon the future of COSS.

Financial Impact

The COSS consists of land dedicated to Council or purchased by Council at market value.  The program is based upon the principle of VOLUNTARY ACQUISTION AT MARKET VALUE. The land that Council has purchased to be included in COSS has been restricted to land that was zoned 7(a).

Each parcel of 7(a) land would have its own value. However, according to real estate industry information, the draft planning proposal could, due to the higher number of permitted land uses, increase the land value in the order of 50%.  

This means that the financial practicality of expanding COSS will be severely impacted.

Adjacent Zoning

COSS does not sit in isolation from its surroundings.  The biodiversity, cultural and aesthetic values contained within the 2,598 ha of COSS, is supported and complemented by the surrounding 3,721 ha of adjacent 7(a) Conservation land.  As Council is proposing to rezone 3,000 ha of 7(a) land to the objectives and land use that is currently permitted in the 7(c2), it is isolating COSS.

The protection and expansion of COSS was an ‘incentive’ presented to the people of the Central Coast as one of the benefits for an amalgamated council. Just as we are still waiting for the consultation that would underpin a comprehensive LEP, the idea of protecting and expanding COSS does not appear to be coming to fruition. A unique and precious legacy of the former Gosford City Council could, indeed, be jeopardised if this planning proposal goes ahead.

          The mapping of the C2 zone boundary has not addressed the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage values located across the landscape of the vegetated parcels of 7(a) Conservation land under IDO 122.

Council is reminded that the zoning objectives within the SI for C2 zone land are “… to protect, manage and restore areas of high … cultural … value” and “… to prevent development that could destroy, damage ... (or adversely affect) … those values.”

When Aboriginal heritage is examined at a site-specific level it has significant impacts upon the use of the land.  Further, as explained in the Somersby Industrial Park Plan of Management, it is not only the immediate location of an Aboriginal site that needs protection but the landscape where the Aboriginal feature is located.  

The Somersby Industrial Park Plan of Management resulted in setting aside approximately 8.7 hectares of land zoned E4 General Industrial to protect the cultural heritage. In excess of 2,900 sites are recorded in the Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System (AHIMS) across the former GCC LGA.  Until site-specific Aboriginal heritage studies can be undertaken across the entire 3721 ha of 7(a) Conservation land under IDO 122, Council has insufficient information to determine whether an area should be included or excluded within a C2 zone boundary.

Conclusion/Recommendations

The proposed rezoning of the deferred land as presented in Council’s REZ does not promote the principles of Ecological Sustainable Development. 

When a council selects to transfer existing zones into the C2 zone under the Standard Instrument, PN 09-002 states that “… councils should, wherever appropriate, retain existing uses that maintain conservation land capabilities.

Central Coast Council directly incorporated permitted land uses from GLEP 2014 and WLEP 2013 into CCLEP 2022. The direct inclusion of the additional uses from Gosford into the current LEP is misguided as the former Gosford City Council had prepared the land uses for C3, not for land zoned 7(a) Conservation, rather it was for land zoned 7(c2). 

The inclusion of additional uses of the Animal boarding and training establishments and Veterinary hospitals is inconsistent with PN 09-002 as it is an intensification of land use not aimed at protecting, managing or restoring areas with special ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic values. Nor is it limiting the range of development that does not have an adverse effect on those values.

The inclusion of Animal boarding or training establishments into the C3 zone, subject to consent allows the operation of a dog breeding facility on the most environmental sensitive land.

The proposed rezoning of 7(c2) under IDO 122 into E4 under CCLEP 2022, changes both the zoning objectives and introduces several new permitted land uses that are currently prohibited including Group homes and Home occupations (sex services).  This means that areas such as Niagara Park, Lisarow, Holgate, Matcham, Erina Valley, Pickets Valley, Wamberal, Kincumber, Empire Bay, Bensville, Bouddi, Terrigal, Avoca and MacMasters Beaches could see the lodgement of development applications for both Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Facilities along with brothels. 

Recommendation 1

All 7(a) Conservation land under IDO 122 be rezoned to E2 Environmental Conservation.

Recommendation 2

Only those parcels of land zoned 7(a) Conservation land under IDO 122 that have an existing residential dwelling be included within the Development Opportunity Map in accordance with Clause 7.21 of CCLEP 2022.

Recommendation 3

All 7(c2) Scenic Protection – Rural Small Holdings under IDO 122 be rezoned to E3 Environmental Management.

Recommendation 4

Council apply for a Gateway Approval to re-evaluate all the existing C2 boundaries across the former WSC to adjust for parallax error along with the inclusion of Aboriginal Cultural sites or zones, threatened species and the habitat of threatened species.

 

APPENDIX: BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The following historical information is intended to provide context to the facts outlined in the above Submission Guide.

The reasons why this planning proposal would fail to deliver ecologically sustainable outcomes date back to 2006 when the ‘Standard Instrument’ was introduced across New South Wales and all local governments had to adopt standard zonings with standard objectives and land uses via Local Environmental Plans (LEPs).

Looking back at the planning documents used by the former Gosford City Council and Wyong Shire Council prior to the introduction of the Standard Instrument, both aimed to limit the scale of development to protect, preserve and maintain the conservation and scenic values on private land BUT the former councils went about things very differently.

The former Gosford City Council had two key LEPs called the Gosford Planning Scheme Ordinance (GPSO) and Interim Development Order No 122 (IDO 122). Wyong Shire Council had one major LEP called Wyong Local Environmental Plan 1991 (WLEP 1991).

Gosford’s IDO 122 had nine conservation zones: 7(a), 7(b), 7(c2), 7(c3), 7(c4), 7(c5), 7(c6), 7(d) and 7(e).  WLEP 1991 had seven conservation zones consisting of 7(a), 7(b), 7(c), 7(d), 7(e), 7(f), and 7(g). Some of the zone names were different.  For example, zone 7(c4) Scenic Protection – Mangrove Creek, under IDO 122, dealt with very steep land along the Hawkesbury River compared to the zone 7(g) Wetlands Management under WLEP 1991, which dealt with flat wetlands. The objectives and permitted land uses in the zones with those different names were different. Even zones with the same names had different objectives and permitted land uses.

Both former councils found it challenging to allocate their old zones into the new state-wide “standard” conservation zones called C1 National Parks and Nature Reserves, C2 Environmental Conservation, C3 Environmental Management and C4 Environmental Living.

According to a Practice Note issued in 2009 (PN09-002), C1 could only be used for National Parks and Nature Reserves. There were no mandatory permitted uses in the C2 Environmental Conservation zone and Councils were advised to choose uses to protect the high conservation value of land. The inclusion of bed and breakfast accommodation and farm stay accommodation as additional uses indicated that C2 zone could be applied to a variety of restricted private uses. The number of additional uses expanded from seven in C2 land to 14 in C3. In the C3 Environmental Management zone, Dwelling houses were a mandatory permitted use. In the C4 Environmental Living zone dwelling houses were again a mandatory permitted use. Other suitable uses included: bed and breakfast accommodation; building identification signs and business; identification signs; caravan park; community facility; dwelling house; eco-tourism; environmental facility; home business, home industry and home- based childcare; information and education facility; kiosk; recreation area; secondary dwellings, e.g., attached to the principal dwelling; tourist and visitor accommodation.

An analysis of the transition from the 7(a) zone under the former Gosford City Council’s IDO 122 to the C2 Zone in the Gosford LEP 2014 shows that similar objectives and similar uses were contained in the former zone and the new equivalent zone. For example, the objective to “rehabilitate and restore areas of high ecological and environmental value and the prohibition of development or the prevention of development in areas of high ecological or scenic value” were carried across from IDO 122 to C2. Similar uses were also permitted with consent such as bed and breakfast accommodation and dwelling houses. In other words, the rezoning of 7(a) under IDO 122 to C2 under GLEP 2014 was like for like.

The same can be said for the objectives and permitted land uses for the conversion of the 7(c2) Conservation and Scenic Protection (rural small holdings) zone into C3 Environmental Management in the GLEP 2014. For example, one objective was to provide a buffer between conservation areas and urban areas. Similar uses were permitted with consent – bed and breakfast accommodation and dwelling houses.

And again, when Gosford City Council transitioned from IDO 122 to GLEP 2014, the rezoning of 7(c3) Conservation and Scenic Protection (Tourist Accommodation) to C4 Environmental Living was like for like. (Note, none of the 7(c3) zoned land was deferred. It was all converted to C4 so it is not part of the current draft planning proposal).

The interpretation and implementation of the Standard Instrument by the former Wyong Shire Council was different to that implemented by the former Gosford City Council. WSC had to rezone its 7(g) Wetland Management zone, which did not exist in Gosford’s IDO 122. WSC decided to isolate the new C2 zone exclusively for 7(g) under WLEP 2013. That meant 7(a) under WLEP was placed into C3 Environmental Management under WLEP 2013. THIS HAD SIGNIFICANT IMPLICATIONS. The objectives remained similar but the number of permitted uses jumped from 12 to 31.

The two different approaches had a flow-on effect for the common-named conservation zones. In Gosford’s case the rezoned 7(b) zone land was rezoned to C2 whereas in Wyong the 7(b) was rezoned either C3 or C4. In Gosford’s case, the rezoned 7(c2) was deferred while in Wyong 7(c) was rezoned to C4. In Gosford’s case 7(c3) was rezoned to C4 which was the same as Wyong zoning 7(c) to C4. In Gosford’s case 7(c4), 7(c5) and 7(c6) were all rezoned C2.  Wyong did not have these zones.

Comparing the two approaches for C2, Gosford allowed Bed and breakfast accommodation; Dwelling houses; and Home occupations. 

In Wyong these uses in C2 were excluded.

An analysis of uses permitted by other councils within the C2 zone indicated that the approach of including dwellings in the C2 zone was taken up by Lake Macquarie City, the City of Newcastle, Port Stevens, Cessnock, Shoalhaven and the Blue Mountains. So the Wyong Shire Council approach appears to have been the outlier.

The reason for the different approach taken by the two former councils was probably due to the different landscape of the underlying geology between Gosford and Wyong, resulting in different settlement patterns. Two case studies from the former Gosford City Council illustrate this difference.

The first is Bar Point where over 52 lots had average dimensions of 20 x 250 metres and a further 120 small lots were an average of 16 x 36 metres. The majority of the 173 lots had residential dwellings. The land was zoned conservation under IDO 122. The contours start at sea level and go up to 230 metres. The 53 larger lots had an elevation starting from sea level and going up to 200 AHD, which includes vertical cliffs. All 173 lots retained native vegetation. To maintain both the biodiversity value of the escarpment vegetation and the high scenic quality with the presence of multiple existing dwelling adjacent to Hawkesbury River, the former GCC included private dwelling in the C2 zone as reflected in GLEP 2014. Due to the high biodiversity and scenic values the number of permitted uses on each allotment needed to be restricted. Dwelling houses were restricted to being adjacent to the Hawkesbury River.

The second case study is Erina where multiple allotments were located along the floodplain of Erina Creek. Approximately 70 lots were zoned flood liable but retained significant areas of native riparian vegetation. To restrict development in the floodway and flood storage of Erina and, at the same time, retain those areas of native riparian vegetation, approximately 70 lots were zoned C2. To maintain both the biodiversity value of the riparian vegetation, the flood way and flood storage capacity of Erina Creek plus acknowledge a number of existing dwellings scattered across the floodplain, the former GCC included private dwelling in the C2 zone as reflected in GLEP 2014. Due to the high biodiversity and flooding impacts, the number of permitted uses on each individual allotment needed to be restricted.

The former Gosford City Council had multiple conservation zones under IDO 122 that had multiple dwellings in highly sensitive environmental areas from steep visual escarpment to floodways’ that contained significant natural vegetation. To ensure the biodiversity, scenic and flood impacts were addressed in locations where there were existing dwellings, there was a compelling need to limit the number of permitted land uses. To address this planning dilemma, the former Gosford City Council used the C2 zone.

WHY WERE LANDS DEFERRED FROM THE GLEP 2014?

Information published by Central Coast Council (page 4, Review of Environmental Zones) in support of the currently exhibited planning proposal gave no explanation of why the lands were deferred in the first instance in 2014. This omission did not provide the community with sufficient information to make an informed comment on the currently exhibited planning proposal.

The deferred matters lands were not rezoned in GLEP 2014 for two reasons:

  1. Local MPs and the Department of Planning supported the introduction of a new Conservation Zone to protect the Coastal Open Space System (COSS). The Department needed time to go through the process of introducing a new zone.
  2. Landowners whose land was zoned 7(c2) or 7(c3) were given the opportunity to subdivide their land in accordance with existing rules.

Consequently, the former Gosford City Council deferred the rezoning of COSS 7(a) land east of the M1 Motorway along with 7(c2) in 2014.

WHAT HAS TAKEN PLACE SINCE 2014?

The Central Coast Council in 2022 merged the GLEP 2014 with WLEP 2013 to create the CCLEP 2022 but did not resolve the problem of how to zone the deferred matters lands.

CCLEP was supposed to be an interim measure until the Central Coast Council set about developing a brand new Comprehensive Local Environmental Plan, which would have involved extensive community consultation and could have ironed out the discrepancies and disharmony caused by the different approaches taken by the former councils.

Seven years after amalgamation there is no mention of any move away from the Consolidate LEP to a Comprehensive LEP.

The bringing together of the two different implementations of the Standard Instrument was like trying to mix oil and water with potentially catastrophic consequences.

C2 in GLEP and WLEP -V- C2 in CCLEP

This goes back to the incompatibilities between WLEP and GLEP because the former WSC had exclusively used C2 for 7(g) under WLEP 2013 whereas the former GCC had multiple conservation zones in IDO 122 which allowed dwellings and, thus, in 2014 used the C2 zone for such areas and uses.

When it came to creating the CCLEP there was a conflict on whether to include or exclude Bed and breakfast accommodation; Dwelling houses and Home occupations.

CCC resolved the conflict by excluding Bed and breakfast accommodation, Dwelling houses; and Home occupations from the permitted uses for the C2 Zone in CCLEP 2022. The exclusion meant CCC had to introduce a Dwelling Opportunities Map in CCLEP to ‘fit’ uses that had been allowed in C2 in GLEP 2014.

As a result, a total of 52,000 hectares covering an estimated 8,000 lots are zoned C2 under CCLEP 2022 with the enabling clause to allow bed and breakfast accommodation, dwelling houses and home occupation.

C3 in GLEP and WLEP -V- C3 in CCLEP 2022

CCLEP 2022 kept only two objectives from GLEP 2014 and deleted another three objectives. For example, CCLEP 2022 no longer has the objective “to promote ecologically, socially and economically sustainable development and the need for, and value of, biodiversity”. The second dropped objective was “to ensure that development is compatible with the desired future character of the zone”. The third was “to highlight the importance of providing an environmental buffer to areas of high ecological, scientific, cultural and aesthetic value.” The latter was replaced with a new objective: “to provide a buffer to land of high ecological value or land that has environmental constraints or hazards”.

It is a travesty of sound planning that the CCC has abandoned the zoning objective to promote ecologically, social and economically sustainable development and the need for and value of biodiversity.

The permitted C3 uses in CCLEP 2022 are a direct incorporation of permitted land uses from GLEP 2014 and WLEP 2013. However, the direct inclusion of the additional uses from Gosford into the CCLEP was misguided as the former GCC had, in 2014, prepared the land uses for C3 not for land zoned 7(a) Conservation but for land zoned 7(c2). 

The inclusion of Animal boarding and training establishments and Veterinary hospitals as additional uses was inconsistent with PN 09-002 as they are an intensification of land use not aimed at protecting, managing or restoring areas with special ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic values.

C4 in GLEP and WLEP -V- C4 in CCLEP 2022

Again, only two objectives were kept from the GLEP. CCC dropped: “to promote ecologically, socially and economically sustainable development and the need for, and value of, biodiversity”; “to provide land for low-impact tourist-related development that is of a scale that is compatible with the special ecological, scientific or aesthetic values of the area”; and “to ensure development is compatible with the desired future character of the zone”.

It is a travesty of sound planning that the CCC has abandoned the zoning objective to promote ecologically, social and economically sustainable development and the need for and value to biodiversity.

Several permitted uses in the former GLEP 2014 have been deleted such as registered clubs, restaurants or cafes, tourist and visitor accommodation.

C3 -V- C4 in CCLEP 2022         

A comparison of permitted land uses under the CCLEP in the C3 Zone as opposed to the C4 zone shows that:

  • 28 land uses permitted with consent are common in both C3 and C4.
  • 5 uses are restricted to C3.
  • 6 uses are restricted to C4.

This document is a summary of a presentation made at a public information session on Monday, 23 October 2023. You can see the whole PowerPoint presentation here: Deferred Lands Presentation 23 October 2023 - Version 4.pptx

Nominations are now open for the Community Environment Network’s (CEN’s) annual B.A.T (Be A Team) Awards, which recognise the individuals and groups within the community who work on behalf of the environment and sustainability.

Nominations for this year’s BAT Awards will close at 5pm on Friday, 10 November.

If you know someone who has stood their ground at the crease, deflected the assault from their opponents and remained steadfast in protecting their wicket, all in the interests of nature, then they deserve to be nominated for a 2023 B.A.T Award.

CEN is calling for nominations for the following Annual Awards:

  • Most outstanding all rounder – to a person or group who has put in a valiant effort on behalf of the environment / sustainability.
  • Most outstanding community based organisation – to a group that has worked tirelessly on behalf of the environment / sustainability
  • Rookie of the year – a newcomer to the conservation movement who has contributed to the improvement of our region’s environment / sustainability
  • Best 12th man or woman – to somebody who has worked quietly in the background to support others in the front line-up and helps keep the team afloat

Every year creates new environmental challenges for the Central Coast community and each year outstanding individuals and groups stand up and courageously tackle those challenges head on.

CEN has now been honouring their efforts through the B.A.T Awards for many years and each year we find fresh faces and environmental stalwarts coming to the crease to do their very best for nature, sustainability and the community.

Nominate your favourite team players for the 2023 B.A.T Awards: Bat_awards_nomination_form.png

Dead trees around Vales Point ash dam

 

A proposal to manage PFAS contamination at the Colongra/Munmorah power stations site is a positive step but may fall short of protecting the health of our lakes and community from the long-term effects of this toxic chemical, according to the Central Coast Community Better Planning Group (CCCBPG).

Mr Gary Chestnut, Chair of the CCCBPG, said it is four years since the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) told residents living around the Colongra/Munmorah site that they didn’t need to worry about the health impacts of PFAS and almost eight years since investigations started.

The site was found to be contaminated with PFAS because of the historic use of firefighting foams that contained the chemical.

According to the Commonwealth Department of Health, Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are human-made chemicals that are used to make products resistant to heat, stains, grease, and water. Most people are likely to have had some exposure to PFAS. PFAS exposure has not been shown to cause disease in humans. However, it has been associated with mildly elevated levels of cholesterol, effects on kidney function and effects on the levels of some hormones. The differences reported for these associations have generally been small and unlikely to be important to health outcomes. PFAS substances take a long time to break down in the environment and human body, so as a precaution it’s recommended to limit exposure where possible.”  

Site owners, GPM, have submitted a development application to Central Coast Council (DA 1587/2023) for ‘Alterations, Additions & Change of Use to Water Treatment Plant (WTP)’ at 301A Scenic Drive, Colongra. The plant will be used to treat PFAS-contaminated water and the treated water will then be discharged via the ash dam and inlet canal.

CCCBPG’s submission in response to the DA raised concerns about relying on the current Environmental Protection Licence (EPL) for the site to monitor for PFAS. The requirements in the current EPL for water and/or land concentration limits only cover the pH of the discharged water and total suspended solids.

“The current EPL 759 sets no limit for any residual PFAS,” the CCCBPG submission said.

“Council must not grant consent for DA1587/2023 unless a unit of measurement is set for PFAS at the discharge point.

“As a starting point, we recommend both Council and Generator Property Management Pty Ltd (GPM), refer to the Australian Government Department of Health ‘Health Based Guidance Values for PFAS’.

“We encourage Central Coast Council to make representations to the EPA and NSW Government about the absence of measures for PFAS within the current EPL 759.”

CCCBPG will be making its own representations in relation to this omission from the EPL.

According to documents submitted in support of the DA by GPM, “The final design of the Water Treatment Plant will depend on the final water quality parameters for PFAS removal as agreed with the EPA. The WTP can be designed to meet 90%, 95% or 99% species protection level with higher quality achieved by replicating the final filtration stages. The required species protection level will be agreed with EPA as part of the Voluntary Management Proposal for remediation of the site.”

“We strongly recommend that Council impose the 99% species protection level,” the CCCBPG submission said.

“The maximum design standard is required because, as Council is aware through its own modelling, the Tuggerah Lakes system shows that wind is the primary source of circulation with retention times for each lake to fully circulate its waters being: Tuggerah Lake 220 days; Budgewoi Lake 460 days; and Lake Munmorah needing 520 days.

“As a result of the poor circulation, any PFAS remaining in the discharged water may accumulate and stay in Lake Munmorah.”

Mr Chestnut said the CCCBPG was concerned about the applicant relying on the EPA to inform the community about PFAS and hydrocarbon contamination.

The EPA states that seafood from the Tuggerah Lakes system remains safe.

However, PFAS has been located within and at the end of the canals at the Colongra and Munmorah Power Stations.

Vales Point Power Station has a fishery exclusion zone at the canal’s exit.

Accordingly, GPM and Central Coast Council should both consult with the Department of Primary Industry to confirm whether the level of PFAS detected within and at the outlet of the canals would require a fishery exclusion zone.

This consultation must take place prior to the granting of consent for the PFAS treatment plant development, according to the Central Coast Community Better Planning Group.

'On the Brink’, a film narrated by Olivia Newton John, Jack Thompson, David Attenborough, David Suzuki and David Bellamy, will be shown for free at the Narara Eco Village Hall this Saturday at 7pm, along with guest speakers, for the interest of anyone wishing to learn more about saving Koala habitat.

Lifelong rainforest activist, author, Deep Ecology guide and now Central Coast resident, John Seed, will be presenting the film ‘On the Brink’ for free this coming Saturday, September 23, in the Village Hall, at Narara Eco Village.

Seed, who founded the Rainforest Information Centre at Dorrigo, says the core messages of the film are impossible to ignore – “We need to reconnect with nature to protect our precious native forests and all the creatures who call them home.”

He has been involved in direct actions that have protected Australian rainforests since 1979 including establishing the Rainforest Information Centre and helping form the US Rainforest Action Network in 1984 which grew out of the first of his many US roadshows.

In 1987 he co-produced ‘Earth First’, a documentary for Australian TV about the struggle for the rainforests, which has been shown in many countries.

Seed has created numerous projects to protect rainforests in South America, Asia and the Pacific through providing benign and sustainable evelopment projects for their indigenous inhabitants tied to the protection of their forests.

Such projects have been funded by the Australian Government aid agency AusAID, The Australian Council of Churches  and various foundations.

He has written and lectured extensively on deep ecology and has been conducting Councils of All Beings and other re-Earthing workshops around the world for 25 years with Joanna Macy, Pat Fleming and Professor Arne Naess, he wrote “Thinking Like a Mountain – Towards a Council of All Beings” (New Society Publishers) which has now been translated into 12 languages.

John Seed said his interest in campaigning to protect koala habitat had been reignited by the local Camp Ourimbah campaign which has been working to stop the logging of the Ourimbah State Forest for two years.

The film screening on Saturday night is supported by the Rainforest Information Centre, Narara Eco Village, the Community Environment Network, Camp Ourimbah and the Australian Conservation Foundation Central Coast.

The Narara Eco Village Hall has a capacity of around 100 so tickets are limited. They are available via https://events.humanitix.com/prevent-koala-extinction?fbclid=IwAR0-UMn5PzRaVNZ_tEC8bzF1X6Q9xJ3PrR2mhkaZWGoAVv3_FtZE0zzlOqg

Photo credit: Koala seeks sanctuary at Palmdale 2020, Brian Davies 

The film starts at 7pm. All welcome.

The Community Environment Network (CEN) has launched a new community action group called the Friends of Porters Creek Wetland with a mission to secure permanent protection for the region’s largest freshwater wetland.

“CEN has been campaigning for the permanent protection of Porters Creek Wetland for many years but, right now, it feels further away than it ever has,” said the Network’s CEO, Mrs Sam Willis.

“This precious natural asset was so close to being covered by a Conservation Agreement under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust in 2020 but the Central Coast Council reneged just before signing off,” she said.

“Since then, we have witnessed more and more development in the Porters Creek catchment. The council also backed away from implementing stormwater harvesting measures that CEN believes were a condition of allowing more development in the catchment.

“Central Coast Council has not bothered keeping the community up to date about progress with the ‘nature based’ stormwater management measures it announced would be implemented several years ago.

“Meanwhile, with no transparency or community accountability, the Central Coast Council continues to prioritise a master plan for expansion of the airport at Warnervale ahead of protecting this region’s largest freshwater wetland.

“At the August council meeting, the Director of Planning and Environment, Dr Alice Howe said: ‘It is our intention to recommend reclassification to community land in due course however, we propose to do that once the airport master plan is developed later this year to ensure that the areas of conservation and general aviation are considered together’.

“CEN believes the wellbeing of the wetland and its long-term protection are vital to the future sustainability of this region.

“The Central Coast Council has never made public the results of its market sounding or Request for Information from the general aviation sector. This was advertised between January and March 2022.

“This council, under administration, continues to spend money on developing a master plan for the airport whilst never proving to the public that there is a sound business case for doing so.

“Meanwhile one of our most important natural assets, Porters Creek Wetland, continues to be undermined by over-development.”

Those interested in finding out more about Friends of Porters Creek Wetland can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and make the subject Friends of Porters Creek.

The Community Environment Network (CEN) has congratulated Central Coast Council staff for proposing to reclassify 80 lots of operational land as community land which means it cannot be sold. However, the Coast’s peak environmental organisation says the staff recommendation lacks conservation credibility for two reasons.

  1.           The recommendation ignores the need to reclassify Porters Creek Wetland from operational to community land, and
  2.           It moves ahead with the reclassification to operational land and subsequent sale of Austin Butler AC in Woy Woy.

“It is good news that Central Coast Council is making an effort to protect areas such as the wetlands at Davistown, Buff Point, Hamlyn Terrace, Jilliby and Lisarow along with natural areas in Springfield and Watanobbi,” says CEN Executive Member, Zina Harije.

Protect Porters Creek Wetland

Ms Harije says it is equally disappointing that Central Coast Council has missed this opportunity to protect Porters Creek Wetland from the risks of sale and over-development by failing to move its classification from operational to community land.

“Council’s stubborn determination to prioritise a masterplan for Warnervale Airport over the need to protect one of the region’s most important natural assets is unethical and does not align with the Local Government Act’s guiding principles (Section 8A) for intergenerational responsibility and ecologically sustainable development,” she says.

“One of Mr Hart’s first actions when he arrived as Acting CEO in 2020 was to shelve a Conservation Agreement with the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) that would’ve given Porters Creek Wetland permanent protection.

“As Acting CEO and then as Administrator, Mr Hart has allowed the nonsense of master planning for Warnervale Airport to progress with no transparency. The August meeting agenda says the masterplan will be exhibited early in 2024.

“Council still hasn’t disclosed the results of 2021-22 Request for Information (RFI) or ‘market sounding’ in relation to the airport. If the business case for the council’s airport is so robust, why is it shrouded in such secrecy?”

The 700 Ha Porters Creek Wetland is known to the locals as Porters Creek Lake and is the largest wetland on the Tuggerah Lakes system which filters a large area of developed water catchment.

“Mr Hart knows the importance of Porters Creek Wetland in ensuring sediment and pollutants are filtered out of the water flowing via Porters Creek and Wyong River to Tuggerah Lakes.

“The data collected during the process of entering the Conservation Agreement confirmed that the wetland is home to threatened species and Endangered Ecological Communities (EECs).”

Mr Hart should stop Austin Butler AC flog off

Ms Harije says the staff recommendation to “repackage” Tranche 3 of the 2020 asset disposal program is a “massive breach of the community’s trust”.

“If the Administrator, Mr Rik Hart, adopts this resolution in its current form he will be committing yet another act of unforgiveable environmental vandalism.

“He must know that Woy Woy town centre is in the middle of a heat sink with canopy cover of less than 10 per cent. This stand of Paperbark and She Oak trees behind Woolworths is the last natural shade in the town centre.

“Mr Hart is supposed to be acting in the best interests of the community in the absence of an elected council. How can he, then, ignore the 1600 residents who have signed a petition to save Austin Butler AC?”

She says Mr Hart needs to be reminded that the community’s trust has been breached on several occasions during his tenure.

“We were told no environmental land would be sold but Spring Creek Wetland at Doyalson was sold for less than its environmental or market value. We were told there would be no fire sales and yet Warner Business Park was sold for a fraction of the price it was resold for by a developer within months.

“We were told only $50 to $60 million of assets needed to be sold as part of the council’s financial recovery plan. Now we are told the council is back on a sound financial footing but the asset flog off continues in the disguise of this bulk land reclassification.”

Fellow CEN Executive Member, Joy Cooper, says the Peninsula Plaza has had over 30 years to fix its loading dock and done nothing.

“It is not up to Central Coast Council to provide Woolworths with a cheap solution,” Ms Cooper said.

“Where is your credibility, Mr Hart? Why are you putting the ‘needs’ of a mega-corporation like Woolworths ahead of the needs of the current and future residents of the Woy Woy Peninsula?

“How many more times will this council under administration make a deal with a corporation to sell off public land at mate’s rates?”

“So Central Coast Council’s reclassification of 80 lots of land from operational to community looks great until you scratch the surface,” Ms Harije says. “I sincerely hope that this time Mr Hart sides with the community he is supposed to represent and rejects the reclassification of Austin Butler AC.

“Mr Hart should also give an update on the status of the airport masterplan, the results of the RFI and why there is such a lack of transparency around the staff’s plans for the airport.

“He should add Porters Creek Wetland to the list of assets to be reclassified as community land.”

Watch the Action for Austin Butler video.

The resumption of logging in Ourimbah State Forest by Forestry Corp NSW (FCNSW) is evidence the Minns NSW Government has paid no more than lip service to research revealing the threat of regional extinctions within 50 years if the clearing of native forests continues.

As a member of the Barrington to Hawkesbury Climate Corridors Alliance (B2H), the Community Environment Network last year called for an immediate moratorium on land clearing to avoid regional species extinctions by 2070.

“CEN felt confident during the March NSW election campaign that the then state opposition understood the need to stop logging, protect native forests and create 22 climate refugia between Barrington Tops and the Hawkesbury River if we are to minimise native species extinctions,” said CEN Chair, Mr Gary Chestnut.

“Right now one of those refugia on the Central Coast, Ourimbah State Forest, is being logged for low-quality salvage and pulpwood and we call upon the Premier, Chris Minns, and Environment Minister, Penny Sharpe, to immediately halt NSW Forestry’s operations at Ourimbah,” he said.

“Bushland on the Central Coast is under immense pressure from urban development, agriculture and the intensifying impacts of global warming – native forest logging, for very little economic benefit, can no longer be tolerated.

“If the NSW Government does not permanently protect Ourimbah State Forest along with the other 21 climate refugia identified in the two B2H reports, this region is facing the extinction of up to 50 per cent of all native flora species and at least six native fauna species within 50 years.

“The research for the B2H reports was based on habitat suitability modelling, completed by the Bionode of the NSW Adaptation Hub at Macquarie University, and on NSW Government climate corridor mapping. It assessed available habitat for local threatened populations under four future climate warming scenarios.

“The research identifies 22 climate refugia corridors that span the region and will be essential for the preservation of species in a warming world.

“Premier Minns and Minister Sharpe know that the clearing of native vegetation and destruction of habitat is the single greatest threat to biodiversity in NSW. They must act now to stop this threat.”

According to the Community Environment Network, a cultural site within the Ourimbah State Forest has already been damaged because of logging activity.

“CEN is aware that koala sightings in the forest in 2019 have not been followed up and FCNSW has made no changes to its harvest plans despite being presented with evidence from the community, scientists and Traditional Owners about flora, fauna and the heritage site,” Mr Chestnut said.

“It appears FCNSW has ignored recent warnings about the likelihood of an early fire season this year. Ourimbah is a rainforest but if large log piles and other debris are left to dry in the forest the fire danger could be catastrophic.

“The risks created by FCNSW’s current ‘harvesting’ far outweigh the rewards. CEN and our B2H partners repeat our call for an immediate moratorium on land clearing. State Forest logging must cease.”

The Community Environment Network’s (CEN’s) Land for Wildlife (LFW) program and its Wildplant Nursery have both won major Greater Sydney Region Bushcare and Landcare Awards.

The 2023 Greater Sydney Regional Bushcare Landcare Awards Forum was hosted this year by Greater Sydney Local Land Services to celebrate the achievements of environmental volunteers.

The theme 'Connectivity' captured works that fostered connection across landscapes, culture and connection to Country across Greater Sydney.

Land for Wildlife NSW (LFW) won the 2023 Partnership for Landcare Award and the CEN Wildplant Nursery received the coveted 2023 Community Group Award.

CEN’s CEO, Samantha Willis, said she was proud that both the Wildplant Nursery and the Land for Wildlife volunteers, who work thousands of hours each year, had been recognised for their efforts.

“All the groups who made submissions for the awards were incredibly dedicated and produced great outcomes for the environment across rural and regional NSW, so the competition and standard of entries was incredibly high,” Ms Willis said.

“We are now finalists in the NSW Landcare and Local Land Services Awards along with finalists from all the other regions across NSW. In turn, NSW winners will compete in the National Landcare Awards.

“The Land for Wildlife Program is a voluntary property registration scheme for land owners who wish to manage areas for biodiversity and wildlife habitat,” she said.

“CEN provides NSW-wide coordination and the framework for Land for Wildlife in partnership with interested local organisations.

“LFW encourages and assists landholders to include nature conservation along with other land management objectives.

“It is free to join and registration will not change the title of the land.”

Ms Willis said the Wildplant Nursery was another integral part of CEN’s commitment to ecologically sustainable development on the Central Coast.

“Our Wildplant Nursery volunteers collect and propagate local provenance flora species.

“They work across two sites at Tuggerah and Ourimbah, collecting seeds, operating a seed bank, growing seedlings, watering and nurturing stock.

“We offer plants to the public through an online shop and a sale at our Ourimbah nursery on the first Saturday of every month.

“Our nursery volunteers are an excellent team of caring individuals, and their collective knowledge of local flora is astounding.

“We are so proud of both groups and delighted they have been chosen from groups across Greater Sydney to receive these awards.”

The awards were presented at a major event in Katoomba by Trish Doyle MP.

After the awards ceremony, Ms Willis gave a presentation on CEN’s COSS Connection and Rehabilitation Project – Improving habitat connectivity across the landscape.

The project works with local landowners to improve the habitat and biodiversity on their land and eradicate pests and weeds.

Visit cen.org.au for more information about Land for Wildlife and the CEN Wildplant Nursery.

NOTICE OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

Community Environment Network Inc.

An alliance of community and environment groups from Lake Macquarie and the Central Coast.

 

Notice of the Annual General Meeting of the

Community Environment Network Inc.

Friday, 23 June, 2023 at 1pm

Location CEN Office, Ourimbah

AGENDA

1. Welcome and Apologies 

2. Minutes of last AGM and Business Arising

3. Chairperson’s Report

4. Presentation of Annual Audited Financial Statement

5. Appointment of Returning Officer

6. Election of Officers – written nominations must be received 7 days prior to AGM for the following positions (Rules of nomination overleaf):

  •       Chairperson
  •       Deputy Chairperson
  •       Secretary / Public Officer
  •       Treasurer
  •       Executive Committee Members

7. Appointment of Auditor

Please use the attached nomination form if you wish to nominate for a position. Nominations close at 5pm on Friday, 16 June, 2023.

The Community Environment Network (CEN) wishes to acknowledge the passing of Dr Tony Saunders, a long-term supporter of Land for Wildlife (LFW).

Dr Saunders assessed many LFW Properties in the Kanangra to Wyangala Wildlife Corridor (K2W) project area.

He also made a presentation many years ago about the program at a LFW Forum in Sydney.

Tony Saunders was considered pivotal in enhancing the K2W wildlife corridor and surrounding environment.

He volunteered so much of his time to enhancing the environment and sharing his vast knowledge of habitat for wildlife.

He will be greatly missed.

We remember Tony’s enormous contribution to wildlife and habitat across the region with this video filmed by Richard Snashall.

The Hunter Community Environment Centre’s (HCEC's) recently released dirt file scrutinises the practices of Delta Electricity and Delta Coal under private ownership and publicises new findings of environmental impacts from Vales Point power station and associated underground coal mines in the Southern Lake Macquarie estuary.

Delta Electricity and Delta Coal have breached environmental protection license conditions 57 times since 2015, including for illegal asbestos dumping, ash dust pollution events and exceedances of water quality protection limits.

“In addition to Delta’s non-compliances, the apparent cost-cutting approach taken to the management of an already outdated piece of infrastructure is seen to be exacerbating pollution and degrading the health of the lake; water and sediment quality, copious marine species and seagrass are all facing effects.” Jo Lynch of the HCEC said.

The loss of seagrass in Wyee Bay due to excessive thermal pollution is estimated by HCEC to total over 50 hectares and, as GIPA documents reveal, arose from successive increases to Vales Point outlet temperature limits approved by NSW EPA between 2005 and 2016.

A significant loss from which seagrass has not yet recovered, according to the latest Seagrass Monitoring Project report prepared for Delta showing further declines over the period of 2021/2022.

“The former seagrass nurseries of Lake Macquarie need to be rescued well before the closure of both Eraring and Vale’s Point power stations.

“The restoration of the Lake ecosystem damaged by decades of operation, must be of top priority,” David Ransom of Keep Lake Macquarie Clean said.

The report contains previously unpublished documents, accessed under the GIPA Act detailing the cooling water systems and impacts of the Lake Macquarie power stations, including the potential interaction of thermal pollution and chlorine produced on-site at Vales Point used to “de-foul” ie. keep the outlet canal free of encrusted marine biota.

Among seven recommendations, HCEC has called for a $100,000 increase to the penalty the NSW EPA awards to industrial polluters for breaches, and for sizable investment on behalf of the owners to a seagrass rehabilitation fund that will repair the damage of thermal pollution.

You can read the whole dirt file here 

Map 46. Melaleuca biconvexa 2000 2070

To prevent regional extinctions, an alliance of environment organisations is calling for a moratorium on land clearing across 1 million hectares between Barrington Tops and Hawkesbury River.*
The Barrington to Hawkesbury Climate Corridors Alliance today released a second detailed report based on habitat suitability modelling and NSW Government climate corridor mapping, to identify 22 wildlife corridors essential for the survival of threatened species in face of climate change.
Author of the report Paul Winn of the Hunter Community Environment Centre says “While our analysis of the available data specific to the Barrington to Hawkesbury region reveals that suitable habitat for fauna species will be severely degraded by the effects of climate change, flora species will suffer far greater extinctions and range contractions.
In all, habitat for 74 Threatened flora species were modelled within the Barrington to Hawkesbury region. Of these, 64 (86%) suffer significant range contractions, with 38 (51%) having no suitable habitat within the next 50 years under a worst-case climate scenario.
The Barrington to Hawkesbury Climate Corridor proposal protects these species habitat and from further degradation and fragmentation and connects them with large-scale functioning wildlife corridors that span climatic gradients and enhance the capacity of populations to seek refuge as the climate changes.
If we are to provide the greatest chance for native species to survive the ravages of climate change, these connected habitats must be protected from further fragmentation and degradation. If we wish to minimise native species’ extinction, climate refugia and identified Climate Corridors must be legally protected.”

*The NSW coastal region between Barrington Tops and the Hawkesbury River connects two World Heritage Areas. The region spans almost 11,300 km2 and includes the Local Government Areas (LGA) of Central Coast, Lake Macquarie, Cessnock, Newcastle, Maitland, Port Stephens, Dungog, and the former Great Lakes Council area of Mid Coast LGA.

Caption for map: Melaleuca biconvexa 2000-2070. Sighted since 2000. Regional extinction by 2070 under all 4 climate futures.

Forum pic

The Community Environment Network (CEN) will be holding two Candidate Forums at the Ourimbah Campus of the University of Newcastle (UoN) in the leadup to the March 25 NSW State Election.

Central Coast residents living in the electorates of Wyong, The Entrance, Terrigal and Gosford will have a chance to find out how candidates standing in those seats will work, if elected, to protect our local lifestyle, natural and cultural environments, biodiversity, sustainable development, local infrastructure needs and respond to the climate crisis.

The first forum, covering candidates standing in the electorates of Wyong and The Entrance, will be held on Wednesday, 15 March from 6:30pm to 8:30pm in Lecture Theatre 102 at Ourimbah Campus of UoN.

The second, covering candidates standing in the seats of Terrigal and Gosford, will be held on Thursday, 16 March from 6.30pm to 8.30pm in Lecture Theatre 102 at Ourimbah Campus.

Residents wishing to ask questions during the forum will be required to submit them via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before the forum.

Our moderators will then select questions to ask the candidates in a Q&A style forum.

Members of the public can register to attend the forum via cen.org.au/events and registrations will open on Wednesday, 8 March and close at 9pm on Tuesday, 14 March.

“We know that most Central Coast residents love our local area and care deeply about protecting our lifestyle and the environment, but these topics have hardly been discussed as part of this election campaign,” said CEN Chair, Mr Gary Chestnut.

“We have spent the past five out of seven years with our Council under administration, we have been told we are now one of Six Cities and that our population must grow by 88,000 by 2040 but we are one of the regions most impacted by the climate crisis in Australia,” Mr Chestnut said.

“This is the community’s chance to find out what the local NSW election candidates will do for sustainability on the Coast if elected to the state parliament,” he said.

CEO, Samantha Willis, said: “Last month we wrote to each MP and candidate setting out the top 10 issues on sustainability and asking for their position on each. These issues will also be tackled during the forums.”

SUMMARY:

Forum 1: Wyong and The Entrance, will be held at the Ourimbah Campus of the University of Newcastle on Wednesday, 15 March from 6.30pm to 8.30pm in Lecture Theatre 102.

Forum 2: Gosford and Terrigal, will be held at the Ourimbah Campus of the University of Newcastle on Thursday, 65 March from 6.30pm to 8.30pm in Lecture Theatre 102.

Public Registrations close at 5pm, Tuesday, 14 March.

These events will be run in a Q&A style. The public will be invited to submit questions in advance of the forum and our two moderators – Gary Chestnut (CEN’s Chair) and Sam Willis (CEN’s CEO) – will put a selection of questions to candidates.

Candidates will also be given a three-minute opportunity to make opening remarks and closing remarks.

In keeping with CEN’s mission to fight for Ecological Sustainable Development and oppose threats to it, the CEN Candidate Forum will be about how prospective candidates will approach the task of protecting the central coast lifestyle,  our natural and cultural environments, biodiversity, ecological sustainable development, infrastructure needs and their response to the climate crisis.

Contact details

CALL 02 4349 4756

PO Box 149 Ourimbah NSW 2258

CEN OFFICES
FM Building, Central Coast Campus,
University of Newcastle,
Loop Road, Ourimbah,
NSW, 2258

EMAIL US


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