An application seeking to bypass important environmental permits and oversight for channel and drainage works within the Maroochy River catchment at Bli Bli appears to be about pushing more inappropriate urban development into the floodplain than for agricultural purposes according to the Sunshine Coast Environment Council.
In the application on behalf of South Maroochy Drainage Board (SMDB) to the State Government to have a large portion declared under a Ministerial Infrastructure Designation (MID), it states a new 15m wide drain is required in addition to widening and clearing existing channels to enable any future urban development and to create additional flood storage.
Several parcels within the scope of the application are the subject of a contentious draft Sunshine Coast planning scheme amendment for rezoning from rural to emerging community zone currently under assessment by the Council.
Impacts from stormwater discharge and runoff from the existing Parklakes development are already problematic for the catchment. Further urban encroachment into the floodplain here and elsewhere should be prohibited says SCEC
“As the founder of the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary and someone who has been involved in wetlands education and management for over thirty-five years I find this proposal worrying because they are asking to circumvent the relevant State Government authorities that have identified the sensitivity and environmental values of the Maroochy River flood plain and the Maroochy River.” Said SCEC President Derek Foster
If scientific assessment and oversight of proposed works by Government experts is not undertaken through the permit system, there is the potential for the river system to be compromised. This puts at risk our eco-tourism enterprises and recreational fishing through siltation, toxic acid sulfate soils disturbance, and pollution. Contaminated discharge caused by uncontrolled floodplain disturbance can also impact water quality affecting swimming and recreational activities.
For our wonderful river and what it brings to our economy and community, we need to do things in the best possible way and heed the advice of the experts, not cut corners and accountability.”
“Past refusals and current, reasonable limitations on the way channel maintenance is undertaken indicate the importance of retaining strict control of activities of the SMDB for clearing drains, let alone constructing more.” Mr. Foster explained
Foster points out that permits can still be obtained as they have done in the past from the relevant authorities for reasonable and genuine works to support sustainable agricultural and rural activities with the necessary environmental provisions.
In addition to the potential impacts on the Maroochy River, the application is seeking to permanently destroy almost 7ha of protected marine plants such as mangroves and mangrove ferns with almost 20ha of vegetation set to be cleared overall. This vegetation provides important riparian corridors for wildlife, improves water quality, and contributes to the valued rural and scenic amenity of this irreplaceable part of the region.
"Ministerial Infrastructure Designation is inappropriate as it seeks to undertake works beyond the intended purpose and operational capability of the SMDB without scrutiny and should be refused," concluded Mr. Foster
Derek Foster, SCEC President: 0402 352 077
Narelle McCarthy, SCEC Liaison & Advocacy: 0424 465 487
Images: Bli Bli floodplain: supplied