Warnervale Conservation Agreement shelved

Porters Creek Wetland

The Community Environment Network (CEN) has vowed to continue its work towards permanent protection of Porters Creek Wetland, following Central Coast Council’s decision to suspend development of the Warnervale Conservation Agreement.

Council made the decision at its April 13 meeting to suspend any agreement with the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust to permanently protect Porters Creek Wetland, until the Central Coast Airport masterplan, Plan of Management and a subdivision plan was registered to subdivide the wetland and surrounding E2 environmental land from the employment lands in Warnervale.

“Council will provide certainty for the community by including the environmental and proposed conservation land to be protected in a draft masterplan and including any proposed employment land to be subdivided from the conservation land,” Administrator, Dick Persson, said.

“If Council continues with the current Warnervale Conservation Agreement without confirmation of the airport masterplan, it stands to cause catastrophic and irreversible sanitisation of primary aviation, education and employment lands,” he said.

“By suspending the conservation agreement until the plans are finalised, Council will be able to methodically plan and implement a balanced and harmonised approach that equally considers the important surrounding ecology and employment land within Warnervale,” he said.

Council aims to place a Draft Masterplan and Plan of Management on public exhibition at the end of May.

CEN Executive Member, Mike Campbell, said the late agenda item at Council’s meeting gave the community no warning of this complete change of direction.

“CEN had been writing to Mr Persson since his arrival in October, and met with him in December, to seek assurances that the wetland’s conservation agreement would be finalised without delay.

“It had been ready for sign-off before the commencement of administration,” Campbell said.

“Mr Persson seemed supportive, but then maps related to the conservation agreement were placed on exhibition, a step CEN understands was completely unnecessary and of no real value to the community.

“It was shocking to see the Administrator adopt a staff recommendation not only to stop the conservation agreement but to spend $5M of restricted funds on a masterplan for the Warnervale airport at a time when the Council has to repay $150M in commercial borrowings, raise rates, increase fees, cut services and dispense with 15 to 20 percent of its employees,” Campbell said.

“The community was told only months ago that land at Sparks Rd and Warren Rd, Warnervale, had to be sold to fix Council’s financial crisis and yet the Administrator has decided to withdraw those properties from sale.”

At the April 13 meeting, CEO, David Farmer, was given direction to explore including 4 and 10 Warren Rd and 140 Sparks Rd, into the draft airport masterplan and to suspend the sale of that land until the plan was finalised.

“It is concerning that Mr Persson has accepted a recommendation from the same staff that have ignored multiple Council resolutions and stymied efforts to complete a conservation agreement for Porters Creek Wetland with the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) for the past two years,” Campbell said.

“The importance of sustaining Porters Creek Wetland cannot be understated.

“It is vital to the water quality and health of the whole Tuggerah Lakes system and is our region’s backup water supply during drought.

“Its protection is fundamental to the future biodiversity of this region.

“The wetland is already under immense pressure from surrounding development so the need for permanent protection is clear.

“Mr Persson assured the meeting that he did not believe the airport would pose a threat to the wetland.

“If that is the case why does the conservation agreement need to be shelved?

“The Community Environment Network will do all we can to get to the bottom of why the idea of an expanded airport has once again taken priority over the wishes of the community, fiscal responsibility and the needs of the environment,” Campbell said.

Persson said the masterplan would maintain the current runway length of 1200m and there would be no extension.

He said there was room for both protection of Porters Creek Wetland and a light aviation airport.

“It’s not hard to get a win-win here,” Persson said.

Sue Murray

2 Comments on "Warnervale Conservation Agreement shelved"

  1. Well if they want all theses people to come to the coast. Id think water quality would be their first request.

  2. Joan Rudgley | April 22, 2021 at 10:42 am |

    We need a board of 6 independent individuals
    From Various areas of expertise instead of one so
    Called expert who only has the developers
    Interests in mind

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