The New South Wales Government has introduced a Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code to allow “manor” or terrace housing in R2 low density residential zones to come into effect on 6 July. Manor houses are essentially a block of three or four flats that will be able to be built on land with a 15m frontage and an area of at least 600 sqm. For the Ryde local government area (LGA), implementation has been deferred for a year. During this time, Council will be developing a local housing strategy and revised Local Environmental Plan.
The new building code will mean that manor houses can replace homes in Ryde’s residential areas without approval by Council, using private certifiers. This intensification of urban density not only has impacts on amenity, character and urban congestion but also on native biodiversity. The gardens of suburban homes are an important part of overall urban bushland and corridors. Council encourages home owners to plant local native plants to support native wildlife in the LGA. Manor houses will have a larger footprint than the average stand-alone home and this will reduce the area for trees and garden space on each block.
The experience from older LGAs such as the former Leichhardt and Marrickville LGAs that already have small blocks for each home demonstrate that it is very difficult to provide good habitat for native wildlife in individual gardens. This increases the need for suitable habitat to be provided in local parks and other open spaces. With such areas already under pressure for competing uses it is not likely that extra suitable space will become available to offset the losses from the reduced sized gardens on medium density permitted housing sites.
A recent report published online in the British Ecological Society journal discusses urban growth and the squeeze on biodiversity. A survey of bird species in 28 parcels of land throughout Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs, including four reserves, found that half of the native species observed decreased significantly in proportion to the density of human occupation, and 13 species were only found in reserves.
To maximise the diversity of native bird species, the study concluded, large tracts of native vegetation must be included alongside urbanised areas. It noted that even including reserves was not a perfect model, saying “growth in human population density in large urban centres comes at a cost to biodiversity, regardless of how it is achieved”.
With Sydney’s population forecast to grow to almost eight million by 2056 and development becoming denser, the future does not look good for our native flora and fauna.
Lock the Gate’s new movie, Sacrifice Zone, tells the story of the massive threat that coal seam gas mining (CSG) poses to this magnificent region in north-west NSW, and especially to our precious groundwater – the Great Artesian Basin – on which many farmers rely. It is literally the only permanent water for a large area of rural Australia such as those living in Coonamble.
Hear about the threat posed by CSG mining to this water from those most affected by it: the farmers and Aboriginal elders of The Pilliga. Sacrifice Zone tells their story to protect themselves as they join forces with many others determined to save The Pilliga from invasive gasfields.
Link to film below: sacrificezone.com.au
The NSW government has abruptly ceased its controversial shark netting in northern NSW amid concerns that catching an early migrating whale would not be a “good look” for the program. In just under a year, 193 marine animals, including species listed as critically endangered have been killed yet less than 4% were target shark species. About 15% of dolphins in a 60 member resident pod in the Richmond River have also died.
See link collateral-damage-too-brutal-from-nsw-shark-nets
One of the world’s worst invasive species, the Red fire ant, has been detected outside a containment zone in Queensland’s south east. They have been detected in Brisbane, Sydney and the Gladstone region and were eradicated from Sydney and Gladstone, but a biosecurity zone remains in place in south-east Queensland, covering much of Brisbane and stretching to the Scenic Rim.
Fire ants attack indiscriminately and pose a big threat to agriculture as well as to the enjoyment of outdoor recreational activities such as bushwalking, picnics and BBQs.
You can learn more about these ants and the vicious Yellow Crazy Ants from the Invasive Species Council.
Congratulations are in order for Jo Taranto and Corina Seeto, the hardworking duo behind #5for Ryde who have won Volunteer Group of the Year at Ryde Council.
In just over a year #5for Ryde has signed up signed 100 local cafes to their Responsible Cafes campaign, with each café taking steps to encourage their customers to use reusable cups. The group actively engaged the community on how to reduce the amount of plastic going into landfill. Improved awareness of alternatives to using plastics encourages us all to be less reliant on them, providing great benefit to the environment in terms of reducing carbon emissions, harm to wildlife and waste going to landfill.
Across the river, Lane Cove Council has awarded Sally Kennedy a Citizenship award in recognition of the role she has played with the Lane Cove and Gas Watch over the past four and a half years. Sally has spearheaded this group, of which RHHFFPS is a member, to raise awareness of the issues with coal mining and coal seam gas. Lane Cove is only the second NSW council to recognise such community commitment for their efforts in trying to stop further coal mining and CSG.
RHHFFPS has received a response to our representations to local member Minister Roberts regarding impacts on Bundara Reserve from the proposed changes in design to Lachlan’s Line pedestrian bridge. A recent letter from the Department of Planning & Environment stated that it has requested the applicant, Landcom, to give further consideration to the concerns expressed in community submissions on biodiversity impacts, including the loss of trees. Landcom’s response, when received, will be placed on the Major Projects website.
Thanks to everyone who sent objection submissions to the pedestrian bridge proposed changes - 80 objections were sent to the Department and Minister Roberts. A petition with over 500 signatures has also been handed to ALP’s Penny Sharpe MLC and Michael Daley, Shadow Minister for Planning.
Cotton irrigators are the big winners after the Commonwealth government amended the Murray Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) to reduce environmental water by 650 billion litres in the southern basin - effectively taking a fifth of the water allocated to improve ecological outcomes for native fish, red gum forests, wetlands as well as downstream communities.
The removal of this environmental water is supposedly to be offset by 37 water saving projects - none of which have been tested nor required to be implemented until June 2024. However, the removal of the 650 billion litres is immediate!
Meanwhile in the northern basin, the Commonwealth government has introduced an amendment to the Water Act to take out another 70 billion litres of environmental water - this is in response to the Senate’s rejection of this removal in February.
Photo courtesy ABC news: When the Macquarie River floods, irrigators have been harvesting the water. Matthew Abbott
Not to be outdone, the NSW government is proposing to give irrigators free new water licences to build earthworks to harvest flood plain waters. Flood water is currently unlicensed and its use unmeasured within NSW. It is claimed that cotton irrigators use it to avoid using their licensed water allocation with those with the biggest pumps and largest dams being the biggest water users. It is now proposed is to formalise this current use by issue of tradeable licences to legitimise what irrigators claim they have taken in the past.
The NSW government’s proposed changes will require the MDBP to adjust how much water can sustainably be taken from the system to incorporate all the floodplain harvesting that has been occurring. It is arguable that if more water than identified in the Plan is being taken out of the river system then more will need to be recovered. Whether this approach by the NSW government is sustainable and consistent with the Water Act needs thorough assessment.
Extract from The Song of the Darling River by Henry Lawson: “For my life and my peoples the South Seas drain; And the land grows old and the people never Will see the worth of the Darling River.”
If you have items you’d like to try and recycle which can’t go in your kerbside recycling bin, there is a free community recycling centre for households at 8 Waltham St, Artarmon which has been in operation for a year. Run by the EPA with support from Willoughby, Lane Cove, Ryde City, Hunters Hill & North Sydney Councils, it is open Monday, Tuesday & Friday 8am-2pm and Saturday & Sunday 8am-4pm. You can drive in and they will help you unload your items.
They accept paint, gas bottles, fluoro tubes, electronic waste, small electrical appliances, household batteries, lead acid batteries, motor and other oils (including cooking oils), smoke detectors, mobile phones, old X-rays - and more!
Further information is on their website Community_Recycling_Centre
One powerful way you can make a difference to carbon emissions is to select an energy provider that sources electricity from renewable energy. At present, the three major retailers – Energy Australia, Origin and AGL – still use mostly fossil fuels sources to provide your electricity. Powershop relies entirely on 100% renewable energy to provide electricity to its customers.
The Green Electricity Guide has the only independent, unbiased ranking of the environmental performance of electricity retailers and has ranked Powershop the top performer. You can check ratings by going to greenelectricityguide.org.au/#ratings-container.
If you wish to switch, you can go to powershop.com.au/ or call them on 1800 462 668 – they are very helpful!