Submissions for the new planning scheme will close next Friday the 14th of December. It is extremely important that as a community we let council know that we support strong environmental protection. SCEC has reviewed the planning scheme and prepared a pro-forma that help make your views heard.
In broad terms the planning scheme seeks to protect the core habitat areas and to establish the ecological linkage identified in the Biodiversity strategy. It also protects the regions waterways and wetlands and provides for the protection and restoration of riparian zones along those. It further identifies all significant areas of remnant and regrowth vegetation and provides protection for these areas.
If development does occur on a site that has remnant or regrowth vegetation a biodiversity offset must be provided that ensures that there is a net ecological gain at maturity. Although the use of offsets is not ideal as it allows for some clearing of existing vegetation at least it ensures that the region as a whole gains and provides an important mechanism to establish the ecological linkages.
The text below provides a summary of key points that you can use as a to quickly make a submission (online submissions can be made here). Feel free to use this text as a basis if you are preparing your own submission.
And please get as many of your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues as you can to make their views heard.
The purpose of my submission is to express support for the protection afforded to our natural environment in the draft planning scheme.
The Sunshine Coast is one of the most biodiverse regions in Australia and as the Local Government body responsible for the area Sunshine Coast Council has a custodian responsibility to protect and preserve the flora and fauna of this region.
Natural areas also provide important ecosystem services (such as flood storage, water and air purification and climate regulation) that support our community and need to be protected.
The natural environment is one of the key aspects that make the Sunshine Coast a unique region to live in offering beautiful spaces in which to live and recreate. It is at the very heart of the Sunshine Coast lifestyle and it is therefore appropriate that the planning scheme recognises and plans for natural areas as a key land use for this region and seeks to protect the natural environment from encroaching development.
Aspects of the planning scheme which I support in particular include:
- Provisions for the protection and rehabilitation of ecologically important areas (3.7, 3.7.1, 3.7.2, 3.7.3, 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199)
- Provisions for the protection and rehabilitation of riparian areas (3.7, 3.7.1, 3.7.4, 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206)
- Provisions for the establishment and protection of ecological connectivity across the region (3.7, 3.7.1, 3.7.2, 220.127.116.11)
- Provisions requiring ecological offsets where impacts on ecologically important areas and vegetation clearing cannot be avoided (3.7.2, 18.104.22.168, 9.4.9)
- Environmental protection provisions that focus not just on specific species but recognise the significance of biodiversity and ecological processes in a broader sense (3.7.1, 22.214.171.124)
- Protection of the inter urban break between the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay (3.8.2) and maintenance of Identified Growth Areas as non-urban areas (3.8.3)
- Provisions to strengthen the active and public transport network on the coast (3.5.1, 3.5.4, 3.5.5)
- Provisions that require subtropical design of buildings and communities (3.3.5, 3.5.4, 3.8.3)
Aspects of the planning scheme which I would like to see strengthened include:
- Protection of ecologically important areas (in particular 126.96.36.199 and the definition of ecologically important areas) should make explicit reference to protecting viable areas of all regional ecosystems and restoring areas that can support ‘of concern’ and ‘endangered’ regional ecosystems
- Provision should be made to ensure that where ecological linkage areas are established and/or rehabilitated they receive the same protection as ecologically important areas identified on the biodiversity overlay maps (similar to provisions for Biodiversity Offsets SC6.22.3)
- The Strategic Framework Map 6 identifies sub-regional inter urban breaks. The identification of these breaks is strongly supported but they are not adequately represented on the map. There should either be a note that explains that the location is indicative only or the full intended extent of these breaks should be shown on the map (SFM 6) which should at least be commensurate with ecological habitat and linkage areas and scenic amenity areas in the location
- The scenic amenity maps do not identify wetlands, waterways and riparian areas as having high scenic amenity, these areas should be identified as having high scenic amenity (Schedule 2.d OVM-M Scenic Amenity)
- The scheme refers to the impacts of climate change on several occasions including sea level rise and severe weather events. The scheme should also consider the impacts from changes in ordinary weather patterns including potential changes to coastal process, wind direction and strength and the impacts from loss of or change in vegetation cover in particular on dunes and riparian areas
- Flood immunity is provided against either the defined flood event or the defined storm tide event (3.10.2 and Flood overlay maps). Flood immunity in low lying areas should be provided against the joint effect of a flood event AND storm tide event
- In spite of the prominence of subtropical design principles in the strategic framework there is little in the rest of the planning scheme to ensure the design of community and buildings actually delivers on the desired outcomes. The planning scheme should incorporate stronger provisions to ensure this desired outcome is delivered on the ground. This could include an incentive structure
I reiterate my support for the strong level of protection that is afforded to our natural environment by this draft planning scheme and urge council to adopt these provisions for the long term protection of biodiversity in this region and the identity of this community.