‘Zombie’ development applications (DAs that were granted decades ago before proper environmental regulation), dodgy ecological assessments and offsets, hundreds of hectares of threatened species habitat at risk, new buildings on sites prone to floods and fire, increasing pressure on services and infrastructure – this is what rampant coastal development looks like. Coming to a town near you, and you probably won’t have a say.
Development pressure is happening up and down the NSW Coast. Councils are under enormous pressure from both developers and the State Government to open up more land for housing. With the Federal Government announcing that 1 million additional homes will be built over the next 5 years to ease the housing crisis, just where will these homes be built never mind all the infrctructure/facilities needed. Housing our communities is a high propriety, but equally, our natural environment must be protected. All levels of government must now ensure that communities aren’t threatened by the natural disasters that are mounting with global warming.
Port Macquarie/Hastings want to focus on more medium density dwellings within existing urban areas. In theory, Council’s Local Housing Strategy contains statements about sustainability, diversity, affordability and connectivity of housing. In practice, developers are always pushing for a high profit margin and are unlikely to meet the needs of the community and the environment. A review of the outdated PMH Local Environmental Plan is critical. It was written in 2011 before much was known about our local biodiversity , including increasingly rare koala habitat. The good news is that Council can rezone rural land to environmental protection without compensation (unless Council specifically acquires that land). Here is a golden opportunity to ensure that high conservation rural land can be exempt from urban development. And let’s not accept dodgy ‘offsetting’ that employs false carbon accounting and doesn’t protect local native habitat.
We need housing for our struggling citizens but let’s do it so that there is no more clearing of native vegetation. Protecting our bush is the least costly and most effective way of sequestering carbon in this time of climate emergency.
(Originally published in Inklings magazine.)