Central Coast Council is seeking feedback on a proposed Conservation Agreement under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 for the Porters Creek Wetland Conservation Area.
Porters Creek Wetland is the largest remaining freshwater wetland on the Central Coast and is located in Warnervale and Wyong.
The wetland filters stormwater from the catchment and acts as a kidney for Tuggerah Lakes.
It is also significant for flood mitigation for the lower Wyong River.
The proposed Conservation Agreement covers Council owned land and provides permanent legal protection for the Conservation Area, which means that it cannot be developed or modified in ways that detract from the biodiversity values.
Council’s ongoing maintenance through appropriate weed removal and revegetation will improve the biodiversity values of the wetland over time and provide the wetland with better resilience against pressures from the surrounding catchment.
The wetland itself is very difficult to access on foot due to the nature of the waterlogged soil and thick vegetation, so currently there are no recreational opportunities in the wetland.
However, there is an environmental volunteer group actively restoring important threatened species habitat.
If the Council owned land was ever sold in the future, the Conservation Agreement protections would still remain on the land.
The land is currently classified Operational under the Local Government Act which is unusual for a conservation area, however, the Conservation Agreement offers far more secure protection than land classification does.
The legal Conservation Agreement would specify that the landowner could not carry out prohibited activities that might damage the conservation area.
The owner could, but is not obligated to, carry out the recommended management actions set out in the Agreement.
These are things such as bush regeneration, not allowing stock to graze, maintaining fencing in working order and feral animal control.
As these are things that Council is currently doing, there is no change to the management of the conservation area.
The Agreement makes allowances for current and planned infrastructure, such as the proposed Link Rd, the Mardi to Warnervale pipeline, the aircraft landing area, gas, water and sewer lines and electricity easements.
Operations and maintenance for this infrastructure is not affected by the Conservation Agreement as these areas are excluded from the conservation area.
There are already legal protections in place for the wetland, such as the Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy, that limit the impacts from development and infrastructure on the sensitive ecology of the wetland.
The proposed Conservation Agreement adds a further layer of protection under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
A Conservation Agreement does not cost anything to set up and the Agreement does not obligate Council to spend money on the reserve.
Council’s commitment to protecting the wetland puts it in a better position to apply for grant funding for land management activities.
Community feedback is open until March 29.
Website, Mar 16
Central Coast Council