Biodiversity certification proposal may be ready

Proposed biocertification area at Warnervale is eddged in red. Map extends nth

The Central Coast Council’s biodiversity certification proposal for land south of Sparks Rd, Warnervale, within part of the Wyong Employment Zone, may be ready for exhibition in late 2017.

Council lodged the application for biodiversity certification with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage at the end of 2016. Wyong Regional Chronicle asked Council for an update on the status of the proposal. In a written statement, Council said that it was “in the process of preparing additional documentation to enable the plan to be publicly exhibited later this year. “The biodiversity certification proposal identifies areas of highvalue vegetation and habitat for permanent conservation and protection,” the statement said. “In addition the proposal will streamline the development approval process and assist with planning for the expansion of development opportunities in the southern portion of the Wyong Employment Zone. “Once biodiversity certification is granted, development may proceed without the usual legislative requirements for site by site threatened species assessment, providing any requirements of the biodiversity certification are met.

“It will also assist with the planning for the expansion of development opportunities in a location where signifi cant employment and infrastructure investment is expected to occur over the next decade,” the statement said. The Central Coast Greens said that they remained opposed to the entire biodiversity certification process across the State. “It is a blatant gift to the property development industry, so that the normal process of checking for threatened plants and animals can be avoided, and hectares of important habitat bulldozed for profit,” a written statement from The Greens, Central Coast said. When the NSW law relating to bio-banking changed in late 2016, Greens MP, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, said in Parliament: “We have totally incomplete legislation; we have no fi nal codes; we have no biodiversity offset methodology; we have no native vegetation map; we have no codes of practice for managing wildlife interactions; and we have no urban vegetation State environmental planning policy… “A paper by John Hunter, an ecologist and lecturer at the University of New England, found that the automated mapping system that uses pattern-recognition technology delivers just 17 per cent accuracy in identifying and determining individual plant communities in the Upper Hunter Valley,” Dr Faruqi said.

“Yet it is this automated mapping, and self-certification, that lies behind the biodiversity certification that the Council, under an Administrator, seeks,” Dr Faruqi said. “Biodiversity offsets are often not even established before the environment is ruined. “In fact, it could take hundreds of years before an offset replaces a destroyed ecosystem, if ever. “The evidence is there; it is just that biodiversity offsetting has become a very convenient and fl awed answer to a vexed question, and creates a false illusion that we can continue with business as usual and the environment will not suffer.” The Greens council candidates said that they did not support “this fl awed system which is all about making property development easier, and not about protecting the environment”.

Source: Media statement, Aug 11 Central Coast Council media Media statement, Aug 14 Kate da Costa, The Greens Central Coast Jackie Pearson, journalist