THE Rural Lands Strategy (RLS) committee was set up in response to overwhelming concern for the proposed environmental zonings on rural lands in the shire. Half of those lands were marked for E zones, not to mention the overlays and other provisions which had the same effect of sterilising land uses.
Landowners were assured no further restrictions would be applied to those lands without a local rural strategy, discussed and agreed by our representatives in the RLS committee, and approved by councillors.
Yet only six months have passed and already our council bureaucrats are attempting to bypass this process with a parallel strategy called biocertification.
Vast tracts of rural land have been chosen for conservation, and this can be applied to any of 17 locations around the shire without the just scrutiny of the committee set up to investigate exactly the issues of conservation and land uses.
Biocertification relies entirely on the conservation of rural lands for its effect. To date the RLS has no knowledge of it at all and our councillors are being fed slick, fast-track, over-simplified colour presentations on the “benefits” only. This will just not cut it. The devil is always in the detail.
Under biocertification all nominated rural lands are assessed as one, whole, ownerless, lump of land, for conservation. Conservation is their purpose.
Landowners are not required to consent to, nor oppose, this purpose. Neither, apparently, is the RLS.
Biocertification allows the council to alter the LEP to rezone or restrict rural lands in order to achieve this conservation “measure”, which is itself an “offset” for development elsewhere.
Council’s statement that community land offsets will not affect private lands states a half truth and is grossly misleading to the community. To insinuate that all conservation measures have been met by community land alone is to distort the whole concept of biocertification and put the community and councillors off the scent.
The biocertification methodology outlines the complex equations used to calculate restrictions on rural lands. These must be understood in detail by our RLS committee and councillors and before any attempt at approval. To override the RLS committee is to override the clear intent of the people of Eurobodalla to investigate these matters.