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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.

Contact details

CALL 02 4349 4756

PO Box 149 Ourimbah NSW 2258

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


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