The Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan @ 3.5 Million
Submissions have just closed with the WA Department of Premier & Cabinet for the ‘Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million’ Thank you to the many UBC Groups and Supporters who made submissions.
The Perth-Peel region lies within a global biodiversity hotspot for conservation priority, because it is under threat! Perth’s Banksia woodlands and wetland ecosystems are unique and rich in biodiversity, and precious but under threat of continued clearing justified by a flawed process of offsets.
The Green Growth Plan requires considerable revision to end clearing and ensure this fabulous natural landscape setting is protected and proudly managed for its highly acknowledged intrinsic value, as well as for the future health of our children and adults, our human need for connection with nature, and benefit of us all. The Urban Bushland Council looks forward to revision of the Green Growth Plan according to our recommendations.
Information on the process and a copy of the suite of reports are available on the Western Australian Government’s website. Notably there are draft State Impact Assessment Reports as well as Commonwealth Impact Assessment Reports.
What is at risk? Why does it matter?
At first glance the Green Growth Plan looks attractive. It promises an expanded conservation reserve system with better management arrangements; improved water quality and measures to protect wetlands; and measures to support Carnaby's cockatoo.
However, UBC's assessment of this Plan is that the State Government is offering very little to conservation. In fact the net result will be a downsizing of the conservation estate that has been built up by successive governments over the past 50 years. When you compare this Plan against previous plans (namely the System Six Report and the Bush Forever Plan), it means a net loss of 90,000 hectares of land previously earmarked for conservation. The wetland promises are also dubious. The new wetland buffer guidelines will only apply to conservation category wetlands, which account for only 17% of the remaining wetlands in the Perth and Peel Regions. This means that the Government is proposing to protect just over 3% of the original wetland system.
We also provide here some of our detailed analysis of the Green Growth Plan. For example, this plan does little to protect Bush Forever sites. Click here for a site by site analysis of impact.
You can also find a link to the excellent submission by the EDOWA (Environmental Defenders Office WA). In their submission they conclude:
In the end, the PPGG Plan appears less to represent “21st Century” environmental assessment and good practice urban planning procedures, but rather maintains the worst aspects of the “20th Century” development and planning approvals that have put the Perth and Peel Regions on a path that is unsustainable.
What does the Green Growth Plan mean for Carnaby's cockatoo? The plan must be revised to maintain the population viability of Carnaby’s cockatoo. Clearing of Carnaby’s habitat in native vegetation (mostly Banksia woodlands) must be drastically reduced and the areas harvested of pines must be revegetated with cockatoo habitat species.
What does the Green Growth Plan mean for the pines being harvested from the Gnangara Mound? We believe that the Plan should seriously address and provide reduction of over- abstraction of the Gnangara Mound. The Plan should be re-written more concisely with primary focus on rehabilitation for Carnaby’s habitat and revegetation with Banksia woodland species and other forage habitat.
Elsewhere on the UBC website, you will find information about the potential listing of our Banksia Woodlands on the Swan Coastal Plain as a Threatened Ecological Community (TEC) at the endangered level. Clearly the Green Growth Plan should plan for the scenario that our Banksia Woodlands will be formally assessed at endangered and hence afforded greater protection.
What is the Strategic Assessment process?
In 2011, the Australian Government and Western Australian Government formally agreed to undertake a strategic assessment of the Perth and Peel Regions of Western Australia under provisions of the EPBC Act.
Strategic assessments are the framework by which government takes a 'big-picture' approach to environment and heritage protection to provide long term certainty through determining the areas to be protected from development and areas where sustainable development can go; the type of development that will be allowed and the conditions under which development may proceed while accommodating sustainable development and the needs of a growing city. Comprehensive information of the process underway can be found at both Commonwealth and State official websites.
Perth and Peel @3.5 Million
In a separate process, the WA Planning Commission asked for public comment on four draft sub-regional planning frameworks in mid-2015. Once finalised, the frameworks would become sub-regional structure plans and be used by State agencies and local governments to guide residential and industrial development, and supporting infrastructure.
By 2050, 3.5 million people are expected to live in the Perth Peel Regions, placing pressure on our resources, social and physical infrastructure, services and the natural environment. So what will Perth and Peel look like by 2050 and how do we accommodate a substantial population increase without impacting on our valued way of life, our precious natural environment, and our crucial social and physical infrastructure?
We believed this draft Plan to be fundamentally flawed and prepared a guide for Submissions. We further recommended that the strategic assessment process should run its course and that its outcomes be used as inputs to the Draft Perth and Peel @3.5 Milion plan.
The maps to the left shows the urban push northwards to Yanchep, and the map to the right shows the loss of vegetation that will result from that level of urbanisation. Thanks to Matt Giraudo for providing these maps.
Click here for your link to UBC's key points of concern for the Draft Plan Perth and Peel @3.5 Million.
EPA Interim Advice to the Minister Perth and Peel @3.5 Million
The EPA subsequently provided its Interim Strategic Advice to the Minister under section 16(e) of the Environmental Protection Act 1986. Perth and Peel @ 3.5 million – Environmental impacts, risks and remedies:
You can ring the Office of EPA reception on 6145 0800 to request a printed copy, or you can download it from their website Click here
What Do We Need to do to Save Urban Bushland?
The strategic assessment process for the Perth - Peel Regions will provide guidance for the growth and development of the Perth region with a population anticipated to grow to 3.5 Million people; and where protection is required for 10 threatened ecological communities, 12 threatened fauna, 39 threatened flora, 3 Ramsar wetlands and 28 migratory shorebirds! The following elements need to be outcomes of the Strategic Assessment process.
1 Banksia Woodlands to be listed as aThreatened Ecological Community
It is critical that 'Banksia Woodlands of the southern Swan Coastal Plain' be assessed and listed as a Threatened Ecological Community (TEC) under the EPBC Act. See our website for more details of this nomination.
Our Banksia woodlands are under very serious threat from (1) clearing; (2) falling groundwater levels due to uncontrolled abstraction and declining rainfall, and associated soil acidity; (3) dieback disease; (4) fire; (5) weeds and feral animal invasion; and (6) declining rainfall associated with higher temperatures. Many of these threats can be managed, but, they are not properly managed or are not managed at all.
2 Immediate suspension of all clearing
Immediate suspension of all clearing and development proposals in the ~ 8000ha of Banksia woodlands currently zoned for development in the Perth region.
3 Bush Forever site protection in law
We need formal vesting of all Bush Forever Areas as A class nature reserves under the Land Administration Act (or equivalent) for the purpose of nature conservation; with a legally binding provision on all land managers for their ongoing management to maintain their conservation values.
4 Avoid State development of Bush Forever sites
State government utilities and other bodies should review their operational plans to avoid Bush Forever sites.
There are still many sites or parts of sites which are vested or owned or controlled by State utilities but are not being managed for retention of their nature conservation values despite the 'whole of government' policy of the Bush Forever plan. Transfer of these sites to a suitable conservation management authority is required. Examples of development proposals affecting Bush Forever sites are Roe 8 Extension through Beeliar Regional Park, Pt Peron and Mangles Bay marina development; Underwood Avenue housing development, Water Corporation Sewerage Main through Anstey-Keane Damplands; Kiara TAFE site (a recommended addition to Bush Forever) for housing and school development.
5 Mandatory legal protection of local bushland
We need mandatory completion and implementation of Local Biodiversity Strategies by each local authority in Perth and Peel in accordance with the Local Government Biodiversity Planning Guidelines for the Perth Metropolitan Region (PBP and WALGA March 2004). The network of local conservation reserves, connected by ecological linkages and Bush Forever Areas, are all essential components to achieve protection of a 'CAR' reserve system with the overall 30% target.
6 Bush Forever audit
The immediate conduct of a comprehensive review and audit as specified in Bush Forever Volume 1 by suitably experienced and knowledgeable staff of DPAW and DOP in conjunction with WALGA's Perth Biodiversity Project and local government and community Friends groups is required and long overdue.
The Minister for Planning made a commitment at our Bush Forever Report Card conference in 2012 that an audit of Bush Forever sites would be a priority in 2013. It is most disturbing to know this has not happened. An audit is essential to inform the Strategic Assessment and support ongoing conservation management of the region.
7 Protection of habitat
It is vital that habitat for Carnaby's Cockatoo, Baudins Cockatoo and Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo be protected. This applies to all Banksia and Eucalypt woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain and hills.
These threatened cockatoo species will continue to decline towards extinction until loss of habitat through clearing ceases. Critical habitat for Carnaby's Cockatoo includes vegetation within a 6km radius of roost sites; and vegetation within a 12 km radius of breeding sites. More field surveys are needed to find additional roost sites and breeding sites. Protection of all black cockatoo habitat must be legally binding by the State.
The compromises have already been made and it is now critical that Bush Forever is fully implemented and funded by the State to underpin the Strategic Assessment.
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