All is not as good as it seems on the Central Coast

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I moved my family to the Coast from the hustle and bustle of the big city to retire, after 37 years of being self employed as a Tradie.

A sea and tree change combined, which I do not regret, yet I am beginning to think the environmental degradations that I left behind in the city, are not much different to that on the Central Coast.

We moved to Lake Munmorah because of its closeness to the beaches, lakes and bushland, and my desire to be part of a tight-knit community. I became the Hon Chairperson of Camp Breakaway, currently run several local voluntary groups for the disabled, and along with many local residents, built the Lakes Beach access ramp for the disabled. I was part of the Catherine Hill Bay fight and went to protest meetings against the forces of evil developers, who are still playing games after all their approvals. I carried out free access for the disabled audits for both former councils and independent local businesses. I started Lake Munmorah Landcare and I was proud to give back to my regional community.

Our small township had a great bakery, butchers, a video store, chemist and a corner shop, and let’s not forget the heart of any small township, the Newsagent/Post Office. As a long-term proud activist, I wanted to make sure that all the natural beauty was protected and that the region had a sense of belonging, including our small business operators. We attended the Brackets and Jam festivals at the local community hall, a grassroots music festival with a community heart. I began to read in the local paper that big business had caught up with this amazing region and some powers to be were driving what they call progress. The local corner store owner had decided to fight the approval of a nearby Woolworth’s store, on his own, because he saw the writing was on the wall. I joined forces with him and addressed the local Progress Association for support, yet quickly found that there were residents within our community with ulterior motives or vested interests.

Another Progress Association across the highway, in a nearby suburb, was also seeing exactly what was written on that wall, the slow demise of many of our local small businesses and a total change to the community in which we call home. If I didn’t know any better, I think they named a movie after it, “The Castle”, because it’s the vibe. First to sell up was the local corner store operator, he’d had enough and got that vibe. The Bakery was suffering due to the newly built shopping complex across the road and they shortly closed forever. The family Butchery also was under immense pressure and was forced to move. Dirty games were emerging with the attempts to poach other small businesses from our local township with the intent to get them to set up in the new complex.

The pressure for our local Newsagent /Post Office had become unbearable and some couple of years later, their licence was taken from them and unfortunately, the Newsagency shut its doors for the last time just recently. Five proud families’ lives shattered for what some say is progress. Well further progress is about to impact on our regional communities, whether you like it or not. All approved by former councils, the current NSW Regional Planning Department, and a conglomeration of historically corrupt local and regional members of Parliament. Approved without the Central Coast resident’s permission or having any say in it, Gosford is announced as the capital of the Central Coast. The Central Coast Regional Plan 2036 also announces that 40,500 new homes will be built over the next two decades, increasing the population by 101,000 people in the northern suburbs alone.

Some 10,500 more homes, then the newly announced Badgerys Creek City for Sydney’s second airport. $180m per annum worth of mineral extractions will commence shortly, yet nobody seems to know exactly where, as we also receive NSW Government approval for another coal mine in our backyard. Seismic testing for oil/gas exploration has begun off our coastal beaches with the real potential of killing whales, dolphins and other marine species, with oil and gas rigs plus the potential of massive oil spillages.

None of the authorities, including the EPA, Central Coast Council or local political representatives seem to think much about the equivalent to 455 Olympic swimming pools of toxic Fly Ash being stored in 50-year old, unlined, dams and currently being covered over and hidden with dirt near Doyalson, or the P.F.A.S. contamination of Lake Munmorah and Colongra Bay, the same substance as Williamtown, near Newcastle. A four year Cancer Cluster report for the Cancer Council, by Torrens University, has nine cancer clusters identified in the region with cancer patient numbers some 20 per cent above the state average.

Yet, we are led to believe that all is looking good for the future on the Central Coast, that’s if you’re a housing developer, mining magnate or one of the major food companies, such as the one who did a good job of destroying Lake Munmorah. Nothing more than icing over a cracked cake, and we the residents have to live with the consequences. I believe that several unscrupulous companies and faceless bureaucrats with vested interests are quickly changing the entire landscape of our region and we, as a community, sit back and allow this to happen. Shame, shame, shame.

Email, May 6 Gary Blaschke OAM, Lake Munmorah

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