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GEPS Submission Growth Plan

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Too Much to Lose – Public Meetings Press Release

The Gerroa Environmental Protection Society is calling public meetings to inform residents that they have too much to lose if the Draft Illawarra Growth and Infrastructure Plan is adopted in its present form.  

This Draft Plan proposes 3,600 dwellings to accommodate a population increase of approximately 9000 for Kiama municipality. It sterilises some of the most valuable farmlands in the Illawarra, enables sand mining in biologically significant vegetation at Gerroa and it fails to plan for climate change.

Our environment group will hold public meetings in Gerringong Town Hall on Wednesday 12th November at 7:30 pm and at the Gerroa Neighbourhood Centre on Wednesday 26th November at 7:30 pm to inform residents of the inadequacies of the Draft Plan and the State Government policies that underpin it.

At theses meetings we will raise three main concerns:

  1. While proposing to protect High Conservation Vegetation and Biodiversity corridors as ‘key assets’ the Draft Plan has provisions enabling development and extractive industries within these sensitive areas. This will make it easier to sand mind the biologically significant vegetation South West of the Caravan Park at Gerroa. This vegetation consists of an assemblage of five Endangered Ecological Communities within the last remaining sequence of beach/dune/rainforest /wetland vegetation in the Illawarra.We’re shocked that this Draft Plan simply requires consideration of offsets and other mitigation mechanisms to compensate for this looming environmental disaster.We can’t see Gerroa residents standing by and letting this happen and expect clear answers from local member Gareth Ward explaining why his government considers the use of offsets and other mitigation mechanisms are acceptable tradeoffs for the destruction of these rare forests at Seven Mile Beach.
  2. The Draft Plans states that Greenfield developments in Jamberoo and south Gerringong are expected to make a contribution to housing diversity[1]. This ignores the value of the rich volcanic farmlands of Kiama municipality and fails to seriously address future agricultural needs in a climate change contextWe have had repeated warnings by scientists and economists that food production in Australia’s Murray Darling Basin food bowl may decline by 40% or more due to increased climate change heating[2]. Yet this Draft Plan proposes to sterilise some of the most productive agricultural soils in Australia[3].Integrated planning should aim to treat these farmlands as a resource to feed the population growth it proposes. Conservation of the farmlands on the volcanic soils of Gerringong and Jamberoo should be a planning priority rather than a casualty of urban expansion.
  3. The Draft Plan recognises the ‘hazards’ and ‘challenges’ of climate change then completely ignores the need to plan for these hazards and challenges. It overlooks the simple fact that sea levels will be at least 64mm higher[4] at the end of its 20year planning timeframe.Sea level rise in combination with beach retreat, flooding and damage from increasingly intense and frequent storm events are anticipated, measurable climate change threats to a coastal community like ours.
    The economic costs of ignoring climate change adaptation planning at all levels will be high and is completely unacceptable given the clear evidence available from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

We will be asking residents to tell their local member that they are dissatisfied with on going environmental destruction at Gerroa, the proposed loss of valuable agricultural farmlands at Gerringong, Gerroa and Jamberoo and the lack of climate change adaption planning in this and other Illawarra Planning instruments.

Howard H Jones (secretary GEPS)

[1] Draft Illawarra growth and Infrastructure Plan p48

[2] Garnaut Report (2008) warns – unless we address climate change we can expect a possible 92% reduction in irrigated agriculture in the Murray Darling and, even if we managed to stabilise Co2 at 450ppm, we can expect a 20% reduction.

The 2014 UN Climate Change Report Card identifies significant drops in agriculture, especially in the Murray Darling Basin, as a potential risk confronting Australia.

CSIRO chief research scientist Mark Howden said the latest science predicted agricultural production in MDB could drop by up to 40% under severe drying scenario – at current rates of emissions (Co2) we are likely to go past 2 degrees warming.    

[3] Report on the Ktaznozeme soils (volcanics of the Kiama municipality) in the Australian Journal of soils and Water Conservation

[4] The Bureau of Meteorology & CSIRO, State of the Climate Report 2014 states Sea levels have risen by 225mm since 1880 and are continuing to rise by 3.2 mm a year.


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