Claims the Eurobodalla Shire Council is using its Rural Lands Strategy to free 38,000 hectares of land from environmental protections and at the same time threatening the Clyde River’s oyster industry are wrong, according to Mayor Liz Innes.
Cr Innes told the general meeting of council on Tuesday, August 14: “I want to correct the misinformation out there with the following facts.”
Cr Innes said that the land subject to the Rural Lands Strategy is primarily agricultural land and that a large proportion of it had already been cleared.
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“Therefore the environmental protection controls of the NSW Government will continue to apply to the land,” she said.
The strategy recommends the integrity of productive agricultural land be maintained by planning rules. According to Cr Innes this allows for the continued use of rural land under modern farming practices.
“The strategy essentially recommends the preservation of larger and good quality grazing and dairy lands as well as water catchment areas by allowing little or no subdivision in these areas,” she said.
“It allows for a small number of rural lots in areas that are already fragmented, basically recognising the current pattern of subdivision. And it takes the natural environment into consideration, for instance, protecting areas with high value vegetation and soils, while also providing opportunities for small scale agriculture, important for our food economy and for tourism.”
Addressing concerns about the future of Clyde River’s oyster industry, Cr Innes was clear: “Oyster farming on the Clyde River is not at risk.”
The strategy allows for a maximum of nine additional lots to be created by subdivision and the potential for up to 20 additional dwellings on the Clyde River catchment.
“The majority of these are located more than four kilometres from the Clyde River,” Cr Innes said. “Any new development would require consent and be assessed against NSW Government legislation and conditions would be applied to prevent impacts to water quality.”
Council’s planning director Lindsay Usher agreed that claims the planning proposal will result in significant and widespread subdivision of rural land and clearing of bushland are wrong.
“There is no greater potential for clearing for agricultural purposes as a result of the planning proposal than exists now under the 1987 LEP, and land clearing will continue to be controlled by the NSW Government,” he said.
Mr Usher said that local representatives of the Environment and Heritage Office, Rural Fire Service and Local Lands Services continued to raise issues that had already been dealt with, at the preparation stage of the strategy.
“They’re not opposed to the strategy as such but to certain elements of it that relate to their agencies. We considered their concerns at that time and we’ve reviewed them again and we continue to disagree with the issues they raise,” he said.
“It’s important to remember that the NSW Minister for Planning determined that the proposed changes to the controls in Eurobodalla were sufficient to meet the requirements of the NSW planning legislation and the planning proposal could be placed on public exhibition.”
Mr Usher described as “modest” the potential for 122 new lots and 255 new dwellings across Eurobodalla and said that any development would require consent from the council and be assessed against NSW biodiversity, land clearing and bushfire protection legislation.
“Any clearing for agricultural purposes will continue to be assessed by the NSW Government’s Local Land Services. There is no change to the current system of approvals for land clearing in this regard,” he said.
The planning proposal was on public exhibition earlier this year and 538 submissions received. A report will be put before an ordinary council meeting on Tuesday, August 29. If approved, the proposal will go back to the NSW Planning and Environment Department to make the new LEP consistent with the changes detailed in the planning proposal.