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Community has ‘high expectations’ of CVC to protect biodiversity

People who have made submissions to Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) draft Biodiversity Strategy 2020-2025 have “high expectations” of both the council and councillors when it comes to protecting the valley’s biodiversity.

Councillors are likely to adopt the strategy, which will replace the 2010 version, at next week’s July 21 council meeting.

Staff point out in their report that “this expectation also extends out to areas that are beyond council’s control, such as activities on rural lands and national parks/state forest”.

Staff warn councillors that there is a need to “to capture community confidence” and that if CVC “is serious about protecting biodiversity, the community will require reassurance that council is carrying out its functions with biodiversity in mind”.

“To achieve this, monitoring of council’s existing actions that relate to biodiversity conservation would be a benefit to council and the community, and is a recommendation in the plan as a priority action,” staff advise councillors.

“By approving this Strategy, council recognises a need to improve the protection of biodiversity, and this strategy is aimed at helping council achieve this.”

Staff suggest completing the following actions in the first 12 months of the strategy’s implementation.

  • 2. Identify a range of funding opportunities and landholder incentives for the establishment and maintenance of habitat corridors;
  • 4 Identify and develop links with habitat areas outside of Clarence Valley LGA in consultation with DPIE and adjoining local councils, community groups, and organisations such as the Great Eastern Ranges;
  • 5 Manage roadside vegetation to maintain biodiversity values, by developing a Roadside Vegetation Management Plan; and,
  • 2 Design an assessment and audit process to review compliance with CVC Biodiversity Management Strategy across all relevant areas of Council, including development applications and civil works.

There is a significant number of actions outlined in the strategy, however, staff point out that “not all of [the actions] can be achieved in the next five years [so] the focus [will] be on prioritising actions as funding allows”.

“Implementation of some of the actions in the Strategy is bound by economic limitations, and priorities will change as state and federal government priorities change,” staff write.

“Overall, the responses supported the adoption of the draft strategy and are supportive of the actions. This includes a submission from the Biodiversity Conservation of NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.”

On the negative side, “several submissions focussed on the importance of implementing the actions proposed, as opposed to paying lip service to them”, staff write.

“Many of the submissions were highly critical of what is perceived to be council’s lack of ability to date in implementing current biodiversity policies that emerged from the 2010 Biodiversity Management Strategy that were aimed at reducing clearing.

“Decisions such as land clearing for developments such as Hickey St in Iluka [approved by the NSW Government’s Northern Regional Planning Panel], clearing of koala food trees at Woombah Woods Caravan Park [deemed to be legal], and other various residential lot subdivisions received multiple mentions.

“The comments relating to these issues generally focussed on the departure from the central tenet of the 2010 strategy being ‘no net vegetation loss’.

“There was also negative feedback regarding perceived limited compliance on conditions of development consent.”