Ivanhoe Estate which is located on Epping Road between Herring Road and Shrimptons Creek at Macquarie Park is up for mixed tenure high density re-development. At the moment there are 259 social housing dwellings in the locality comprising a mix of townhouse and four storey apartment buildings set around a cul-de-sac street layout amongst mature trees.
It has been that way for 25 or more years but the new proposal provides for 3,500 dwellings (with only 128 allocated to ‘affordable rental housing’), basement car parking; a private high school, child care centres, community and retail uses; and maximum building heights ranging from 45m to 75m (20 storeys). This is very clearly an overdevelopment of the site. Of particular concern is the proposal to remove more than 800 trees from the site including remnant Sydney Turpentine Iron Bark forest (STIF). It is classified as an endangered ecological community under NSW State and Commonwealth legislation. Currently only 0.5 percent of the original Sydney Turpentine Iron Bark forest community remains and every effort must be made to protect and maintain existing remnants intact.
The reason given for this removal is the footprint for the proposed basement parking and an access roadway which means that most of the site will be excavated.
The Master Plan for the site treats the loss of the STIF as unavoidable and proposes biodiversity offsets in accordance with the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Policy for Major Projects. These offsets are not acceptable because they do nothing to add to the total of remaining STIF. They rely on another remnant of STIF being identified that is not currently protected by zoning or legal agreement and making that site subject to such protections.
Despite the Master Plan relying on offsets for the loss of STIF, the Biodiversity Offset Strategy provides no information about the location of an offset site or time lines for implementing any offsets. The destruction of this important vegetation can be avoided by changing the Master Plan. This should be the first priority and must be done. There is ample opportunity to scale back the development and protect the STIF while providing an increase in the number of dwellings available in this increasingly developed area.
With Sydney’s population forecast to reach eight million people there will inevitably be many more similar conflicts between development and biodiversity across our city.
The Society was among many NGOs stunned that legislation giving protection to feral horses over that of sensitive alpine wetlands, native plants and wildlife was recently passed by the NSW Parliament. This not only over-rides the paramount objective of the National Parks & Wildlife Act for the protection of nature, it ignores expert scientific advice on the actions required to protect Kosciuszko National Park from continued long term damage from thousands of hard-hooved feral horses running wild through the park. It also sidelines the Master Plan developed over several years which had negotiated an outcome largely acceptable to the many disparate interests involved.
Unique native species will be further endangered and the park's environmental values severely reduced. Ultimately even the horses will suffer as their numbers grow beyond the park's capacity to feed them and they painfully starve. We ask why the state government did not heed the warnings of the RSPCA, the advice of the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. This is one of Australia’s most iconic national parks and we will see it degrade further through such poor management decisions and neglect. This disregard of our conservation obligations in favour of granting so-called "heritage" status to wild horses for political ends is shameful and harms our international reputation as responsible custodians of our precious natural environment and World Heritage Areas.
The Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations group (MLDRIN), which represents Traditional Owner organisations across the Murray-Darling Basin, has given evidence to the South Australian Royal Commission that the Commonwealth Water Act requires change as it is ‘substantially inconsistent’ with Australia’s commitments to international obligations under the Biodiversity Convention and the Ramsar Convention.
They state that the legislation has established weak procedural standards for Indigenous participation in water resources decision-making and falls far short of the ‘robust involvement’ and best practice required by the conventions. “We are witnessing the real world impacts of excluding First Nations’ knowledge, culture and law from water planning,” said MLDRIN Chair and Nari Nari man Rene Woods.
“The tragic state of the Baarka (Darling River) is a stark example of what happens when First Nations’ values, knowledge and interests are marginalised in water policy and legislation. ... The Water Act needs to be reformed to recognise and promote First Nations’ distinctive attachment to and authority relating to waters of the Murray Darling Basin.” MLDRIN and Environmental Justice Australia have collaborated to propose amendments that will align our national water management and the MDBP with international standards.
RHHFFPS has closely followed the State government’s Crown land revision process initiated in 2012 by the independent review by former banker Michael Carapiet, culminating on 1 July 2018 with the commencement of the new regulations, supported by a weak set of community engagement requirements. Each phase of the changes proposed by government has attracted significant community response with hundreds of submissions expressing concern at the potential for alienation and sale of the much valued Crown estate under the new management model. At this stage it is unclear where some Crown land has “ended up” such as that under Racing NSW and certain commercially leased areas. Cemetery Trusts will have greater autonomy.
Local Crown land under Council’s care and control, such as Brush Farm Park and Boronia Park has been transferred to Council which will manage the land under transitional arrangements for three years until the more prescriptive and transparent requirements of the Local Government Act (Community land management) are activated. During this time, Councils have powers to enter into leases and licences, but capacity to sell Crown land is unclear. Since the Field of Mars Reserve (70% Crown land) is a Wildlife Refuge its management status is a bit unclear with the changes. The community will need to remain vigilant in ensuring local Councils act for the wider public benefit in how they manage the parcels of Crown Reserves now effectively under their direct control.
Readers may recall the report in the August 2017 issue of Wallumetta about the enthusiastic actions undertaken by Society members Jo Taranto and Corina Seeto. Since then they have been developing their website http://5forryde.org.au/ which has helpful advice for reducing waste and our impact on the natural environment.
They have canvassed café owners to promote the use of Keep Cups as an alternative to disposable coffee cups and, for those who bring their own cup, there are now over 100 cafés around Ryde offering discounts on the cost of your coffee. These are listed on the website.
Local schools are also being encouraged to support the move and a welcome feature at Ryde East Primary School is the Friday morning coffee van. The school promotes Keep Cups in its own colours and the City of Ryde Council has done likewise. Jo and Corina have also been out and about promoting responsible waste management and late last year held a session with parents and youth members of 1 st East Ryde Scout Group.
Recently, they have been prominent in media appearances with Jo being on the panel of the ABC’s Q&A program on 23 July, and appearing on the ABC television program “War on Waste”. The “Straw Free Ryde” campaign has just been announced, first targeting hotels and bars. They also took part in Hunters Hill’s Moocooboola Festival on 5 August, running recycling activities. Find their toolkit for emerging groups and campaigns at www.abc.net.au/waronwaste/toolkit
RHHFFPS has raised concerns with Anthony Roberts about further development happening at the Field of Mars cemetery. We had understood that a landscape plan was developed a while ago to improve amenity and drainage within the heritage-listed cemetery and that an increase in graves/crypts would not occur.
Recent changes to the management of cemeteries seem to have allowed for a further 132 sites. Unfortunately this has involved the removal of a number of trees.
We have been very disturbed to see dumping including concrete and uncontrolled fill, presumably from the crypt works, very near and/or within the Field of Mars bushland, an area which contains endangered shale forest and is within the gazetted Wildlife Refuge. The matter was reported to Council. Sediment fences and hay bales have now been installed along the bushland boundary and greater care will be taken.