Letter from Craig Barnes

July 24, 2010

A Queensland supporter received this recently. The Department of LMPA continue the rubbish that there is no developable land left in Crescent Head. Technically perhaps within town borders but they know how disingenuous that is.

Dear Lynette Nunn I refer to your correspondence to the Hon Tony Kelly MLC, Minister for Lands, in which you outline your concerns regarding proposals to develop stages 3-5 of the Goolawah estate at Crescent Head. The Minister has asked I respond on his behalf. Planning consent for the development of this land to address a chronic house site shortage at Crescent Head was provided by Kempsey Shire Council in 1991. Note that the NSW government’s Mid North Coast Regional Strategy and the Kempsey Shire Councils Residential Land Release Strategy describe the Goolawah stages 3-5 as being within the footprint of growth now required for the expansion of the village. The development was postponed for many years to provide the review of a Native Title Claim lodged by the Dunghutti Aboriginal Lands Council. The NSW planning legislation (S 105 A Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979) upholds the original approval regardless of the subsequent statutory listing of threatened species, which I acknowledge have been reported to be present at this site. As the Native Title claim has been resolved, the Goolawah development is now being considered for activation to address housing site shortages within the village of Crescent Head. Notwithstanding the existing approval and having regard for the environmental values at the Goolawah site, the Minister aims to review possible options for development in the area which will both address the abovementioned housing shortage and also permit maintenance of key environmental values. The feasibility of these options will take some time to consider but you can be assured that precarious development will be avoided in this way. The impact on listed endangered ecological communities and other threatened species of clearing and disturbance which might be associated with such development will therefore be well considered within the review process mentioned above. Thank you for your interest in this matter. Yours faithfully 21 July 2010. Craig Barnes Acting General Manager Crown Lands Division

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Catherine Cusack sets record straight

April 25, 2010

hollows are essential for fauna biodiversity

This is part of a speech made by Catherine Cusack ,Liberal MLC, which also dealt with Aboriginal Heritage and the River Red Gum NP issue.

The Liberal and Nationals parties have also announced our policy to protect Crown land, known as Goolawah Stage II at Crescent Head, which the current Government has earmarked for subdivision and sale as blocks for housing. It is high-conservation value, featuring endangered species, precious koala habitat for the koalas that live there and most significant of all, is right in the narrow neck of a wildlife corridor connecting Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve with Hat Head National Park. Last week I visited the site with John Jeayes, a committed, knowledgeable and positive conservationist, who has been smeared by the Minister for Lands, Tony Kelly, in Parliament in a pathetic effort to conceal his own embarrassment. I thank Mr Jeayes for his campaign to save this precious and strategic fragment of pristine forest. We will reverse the actions of the current Government to develop the land and instead incorporate it into the new Goolawah National Park.

 
 

 

 

Kelly continues to deny existence of Killuke option

April 22, 2010

GOOLAWAH ESTATE DEVELOPMENT Ms SYLVIA HALE: I address my question without notice to the Minister for Lands. Yesterday, in answer to a question I asked about Goolawah Estate, the Minister said: Currently there is no other land available in Crescent Head for development. Is the Minister aware that a local developer, Portofino Enterprises Pty Limited, is awaiting Kempsey Shire Council’s approval of an application to rezone cleared land currently zoned rural residential to urban residential that, if approved, would release somewhere between 111 and 150 blocks for residential development? In light of the statement last week on ABC Radio by the general manager of Kempsey Shire Council that the Department of Planning is stalling the approval of the rezoning of this cleared land, will the Minister withdraw the department’s application to subdivide sections 3 to 5 of Goolawah Estate? The Hon. TONY KELLY: I refer the member to the answer that I gave yesterday at the end of question time in response to her ridiculous question. I said then—the member quoted my statement earlier—that no other land is currently available.

Coalition intend NP link for Goolawah

April 21, 2010

Liberals unite with Greens to oppose coastal housing project

LOUISE HALL

April 22, 2010

THE NSW opposition and the Greens have united to oppose the government’s plan to develop pristine coastal land for 80 new houses at Crescent Head on the NSW north coast.

The government claims it can sell off the land for housing at Goolawah Estate based on a 1991 development application put on hold for two decades during a native title dispute.

The Minister for Planning and Lands, Tony Kelly, said the proposed development could go ahead despite an environmental assessment finding a significant amount of the estate contained an endangered species of paperbark tree, which was listed as a threatened species in 2004.

Mr Kelly said because the development application was granted before the swamp sclerophyll forest was listed as threatened, it was legally valid.

This week the opposition pledged to cancel the development and incorporate the land into the adjacent Goolawah National Park if elected next year. An environment spokeswoman, Catherine Cusack, said the government was trying to recoup the $6.1 million paid to the Dunghutti people in February as compensation for the acquisition of native title land.

”The land is an important wildlife corridor and is completely unsuitable for development,” Ms Cusack said. She disputed Mr Kelly’s claim that there was no other land suitable for development in Crescent Head, saying a private company, Portofino Enterprises, had been trying to subdivide mostly cleared land about 200 metres down the road from Goolawah.

The Greens MP Sylvia Hale called on the government to withdraw and declare the land protected. Locals, led by the Crescent Head Ratepayers and Residents Association, oppose the plan.

”The community believed the land was safe … but the minister’s not letting a few threatened species or endangered ecological communities stand in his way,” Ms Hale said.

John Jeayes, the secretary of the North Coast Environmental Council, said the estate was home to koalas, glossy black cockatoos, a threatened species of bats, black flying fox and old-growth grey gum and red gum. ”If you were conservative and reckoned the 80 blocks would reach say $250,000 per block that is a nice $20 million to fill up part of the hole in Labor’s treasury,” he said.

Mr Kelly said the plan was vital to tackle the shortage of land in Crescent Head. A spokesman for Mr Kelly said the government was ”investigating how development may proceed, taking into account the endangered species and environmental issues”.

Sylvia Hale to Minister Tony Kelly

April 20, 2010

On Tuesday, April 20, 2010 Sylvia Hale , Greens MLC asked the Minister for Lands and Planning the following:

GOOLAWAH ESTATE DEVELOPMENT
Ms SYLVIA HALE: I address my question to the Minister for Lands. Because of the application of the Minister for Lands to the Minister for Planning for approval to subdivide sections 3 to 5 of the Goolawah Estate, which contains core koala habitat, is the Minister aware that in Crescent Head the initials KKK stand for Kristina Koala Killer, Kelly Koala Killer or Kelly Koala Chlamydia? Is the Minister also aware that in 2008 the Taree office of the Department of Lands assured residents in writing that sections 3 to 5 of the Goolawah Estate could not be developed because of the endangered ecological community? Will the Department of Lands withdraw its application to subdivide sections 3 to 5 of the Goolawah Estate?

The Hon. TONY KELLY: What a ridiculous and insulting way in which to frame a question. If the member comes back and asks me a reasonable question, I will answer it.

Ms Sylvia Hale: Point of order: The Minister debated the question rather than answering it. He should be directed to answer the question.

The Hon. Greg Donnelly: Point of order: The member received the answer that she deserved.

The ACTING-PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order.

DIGITAL RECORDING AND

 

 

GOOLAWAH ESTATE DEVELOPMENT
The Hon. TONY KELLY: Earlier in question time Ms Sylvia Hale asked me a question that contained insulting terms. For that reason I chose not to answer it during question time, but members and the public should know the answer to the question, even when the insulting terms are removed from the question. Kempsey Shire Council gave development consent for the Goolawah Estate at Crescent Head in 1991. The first two stages were constructed and all blocks were sold by mid 2001, despite the suspension of sales while a native title claim by the Dunghutti people was resolved. As part of that resolution, the Dunghutti people received a payment of $6.1 million as compensation for the acquisition of native title land at Crescent Head. At that time no further vacant Crown land was available for sale to meet the demand for residential development.

During planning for the development of the remaining three stages local members lobbied to fast-track the development to provide further residential land. At the same time environmental lobbyists, headed by John Jeayes, Secretary of the North Coast Environmental Council, pushed to have the development terminated. I think I recall that at some stage in the past John Jeayes was the head of a group called Rustic Roads, which wanted to keep our country roads unsealed.

The Hon. Duncan Gay: That’s my question. Don’t mention Orange.

The Hon. TONY KELLY: I told the Hon. Duncan Gay that I did not—

The Hon. Duncan Gay: It’s Whan who has given you the wrong information.

The Hon. TONY KELLY: I am sorry for interrupting my answer to Ms Sylvia Hale’s question. During my previous answer I pointed out to the Hon. Duncan Gay that I did not say he said it during question time today.

The Hon. Duncan Gay: You inferred!

The Hon. TONY KELLY: I did not. In the designing phase for the remainder of the estate the consultant found that topographical restraints, combined with design criteria set by council, made much of the existing development application design unworkable. As a consequence, a modification of the development application was considered. Threatened species assessments undertaken by the Land and Property Management Authority [LPMA] as a result of lobbying from John Jeayes found that a significant amount of the estate was covered with swamp sclerophyll forest, which was added to the threatened species list in December 2004. A combination of the unworkable nature of the development application design, the need to seek an amendment and the existence of threatened species appeared to make development of the remaining estate unachievable.

During valuation exercises for final payment of the native title agreement, it was found that development could proceed despite the existence of threatened species, provided it was in accordance with the original development application that was granted prior to the species being listed as threatened. As a consequence of the $6.1 million payment, the Land and Property Management Authority is now considering development options. The project has been tentatively placed on the Land Development Program, with a projected timetable of investigation and construction in 2010-11 and sales in 2011-12. The effects of undertaking the project will need to be considered before any works are commenced. Currently there is no other vacant land available in Crescent Head for development, with the Land and Property Management Authority holding the only land in the village capable of being developed.

On ecological consultants

April 15, 2010
 
On ecological consultants
 
There is in each valley area of the North Coast typically a small group of developers and a small pool of ecological consultants to service their needs as in carrying out ecological surveys necessary for the developers’ projects to progress through local or state government hoops, such as they are. 

 
 
 

Most ecological consultants will attest to knowing of inadequate studies being produced with insufficient effort and methodology being put into studies. Some will relate how they have been advised their work is too thorough and this has cost them work.
 
 

 
 
 

Ecologists vary in the performance of their duties and all ecologists whom I have spoken to report that they have seen some shocking things going on with the reports and studies presented.
 
 

 
 
 

Not all of them are deliberately compliant but some of them are. After all in the small circle of developers there will naturally be pillow talk about which ecologist gave them a satisfactory report. It is then more likely that that ecologist will gain further employment with the developer and his mates in the developers’ club.
The ecologist who refuses to find anything but the truth will end up working for DECCW or somewhere in the outback of New Guinea.
 

 
 
 

Not all poor results are down to corrupt activity. You get what you pay for and if a consultant has say 5 days to study a whole property of several hectares he can only report what he sees in that time. He has no idea what happens in different seasons. In Spring for instance nature seems to burst into life with flowering plants bringing parrots, bats and gliders much more in evidence and with male koalas dispersing looking for a mate and making disgusting noises in the bush.
Sort of like on the way home from the Country Club on Saturday night .
 

 
 
 

I recently had occasion to speak to a Joint Regional Planning Panel meeting on the Macquarie Gardens development down the Port end of Maria River Road. Now those ecologists probably did the best they could in the 5 days they were employed and reported an EEC, Core Koala Habitat and so on.
 
 

 
 
 

The time of year in which a study is done can be crucial to the result. They did not study the area fully in Spring/Summer as they were not employed in that time. They spent one day in summer (Feb. 9, 2007) and the 4 days in autumn. (April 1-4, 2008).
For all they knew there could have been a pack of thylacines running around the property in spring. But they were not employed for that time.
Then there is effort. An ecologist can write about having spent man hours doing study tasks and combine the persons’ time. A couple for instance might spend a night trapping and releasing unharmed creatures back into their habitat in the middle of winter. They can do call playbacks where they broadcast animal calls for say Powerful Owls and again for Green and Golden Bell Frogs and drive around the bush with a spotlight.
Because there are two of them for 3 hours they can double the time spent and write up 6 hours in their report. Looks impressive but in reality means bugger all.

Come back in a different time of the year and spend a week and the result could be the opposite.

That is not a satisfactory result for the environment but music to a developer’s ears. (Must get that mob next time).

The qualifications to be an environmental consultant are not really known. You would think they would all have a Bachelor of Science with an environmental major but not necessarily. Two of the best botanists I have met have no paper to show but their work sees them sought after by National Parks when they want a fair dinkum result on EEC’s or threatened flora.

 
 
 

Then at Goolawah Estate a report raised no serious objection to subdivision development there. The community was horrified because the high conservation value of the forest there seemed obvious and commissioned Kendall and Kendall to examine the report.
Kendall and Kendall found several alleged errors in assumptions, methodology and conclusions.
For instance they pointed out that you cannot say Queensland blossom bat was not present because it did not show up using an anabat recorder which records the noises we can’t hear with which microbats navigate.
That is because they don’t emit noises to navigate! They get around by sight and smell.

 
 
 

To give them their due Lands Taree accepted the criticism of the study and asked another ecologist, Ben Lewis, to do firstly, a targeted flora survey and a habitat based fauna survey, and based on the outcomes of this report a targeted fauna survey focusing on threatened species.
 
 

 
 
 

Lewis took the known conservation values a step higher when his team came up with six threatened species of fauna including koala, and an Endangered Ecological Community (Swamp Sclerophyll Forest). This report also identified the likelihood of several other threatened species including the Common Blossom Bat. Most of us call it just a paperbark forest without realising how much of this stuff has been cleared for agricultural purposes like fencing or filled in to expand coastal towns. This particular paperbark forest is an important link to the SEPP 71 listed Goolawah Lagoon.
Later the public proved Core Koala Habitat with more sitings including a breeding female with joey.
This is a prime example of how time and effort, seasonal timing, scientific methodology , historical records along with community participation are all important in getting an accurate estimation of what is there before a forest is clear felled for subdivision.

 
 
 

Actually I have been developing a Plan of Management for Ecological Consultants for a few years now in consultation with ecologists and green groups like the North Coast Environment Council and the NSW Nature Conservation Council.
 
 

 
 
 

This scheme attempts to remove that potential for conflict by providing a way to break the nexus between developer and consultant, by ensuring strong accreditation of consultants and by providing qualified and rigorous assessment of the product with the direct payment for the ecological services removed from the developer/employee situation.
 
 

 
 
 

I have proposed a committee be formed in each regional area which will appoint an ecologist or firm to each job according to qualification and experience.
 
 

 
 
 

The Committee, managed by DECCW, would consist of NPWS officers, senior ecologists from another region and a member of an environmental group and one from the community. The Committee would handle the advertising of the project, appointment of the ecologist and, importantly, the payment of the ecologist from money lodged by the developer. There would need be no contact between ecologist and developer.
 
 

 
 
 

Oh and of course all that would be useless if there was not the will to preserve valuable environmental qualities and the State Government chose not to see the trees for the greenbucks as is happening right now at Goolawah Estate.
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 

 

At the moment there is a strong perception, particularly amongst environmental groups, that ecological consultants operate in a pool of sharks, and that developers will shop around until they find a consultant likely to produce a favorable result for their project’s quick and inexpensive progress.
 
 

ABC Radio April 8

April 14, 2010
  • it's not just 1 forest type

No decision yet on coastal subdivision

Posted April 8, 2010 14:08:00

The New South Wales Government has moved to clarify information about a contentious coastal subdivision east of Kempsey.

The Goolawah Estate at Crescent Head is a five stage development, first approved in 1990.

The first two stages have been developed and sold.

Environmental activist John Jeayes is concerned about stages three to five as the areas have been gazetted as an endangered ecological community.

He says the State Government is going ahead with the development despite this.

But a spokesman for the Minister for Lands, Tony Kelly, says a final decision has not been made.

Mr Kelly says the Land and Property Management Authority has been consulting widely on the issue.

He says investigations are underway into how development can proceed, taking into account the endangered species and environmental issues.

NCEC Media Release

April 13, 2010

 

 The North Coast Environment Council is the peak regional environment group in NSW.  The NCEC represents over 30 groups and individuals from the Hunter to the Tweed and west to Armidale. Since its inception in 1976 the NCEC has worked to see our natural heritage valued and protected.

                                                Media Release 20.04.10

The North Coast Environment Council congratulates the community at Crescent Head on their brave fight to save the forest adjoining their coastal village a spokesperson said today.

This small forest was subject to the first mainland Native Title Claim but when finalising the settlement with the Dunghutti nation with compensation of $6.1M the Minister for Lands, Mr Tony Kelly, announced the subdivision for 80 residential homes would now go ahead.

This news stunned the local community as they thought they had saved this forest when in 2008 they were advised that the Government would never go ahead with the Development Application (DA) since new studies had shown an Endangered Ecological Community was on that site.

Mr Jeayes, Honorary Secretary of the North Coast Environment Council (NCEC), said today this is a disgrace in this International Year of Biodiversity 2010 that Mr Kelly can set out to destroy Core Koala Habitat, Glossy Black Cockatoo habitat in an old growth forest with an EEC (swamp sclerophyll forest).

Mr Jeayes claimed there was a disappointing lack of communication between the NSW Departments of Lands and Planning. He said he was dismayed to find that Taree Lands who had previously recommended rezoning to Environmental Conservation did not even know of the Kelly decision until he rang their office to find out why they had changed their minds.

Mr Jeayes said that clearing of habitat was a major threat to the koala which is a threatened species in NSW and this area is listed in the Kempsey Shire Council draft Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management for protection. “This is a key area for breeding and for migration through a coastal corridor under global warming in the future,” he said.

“Everywhere you look the State Labor Government is encouraging destruction of koala habitat. In the Tweed at Kings Forest, in Mumbulla Forest on the South Coast and in East Millewa River Red Gum where they have cynically declared an” intention” to make a future National Park but allowed 5 years of logging first”.

“This is not fair to the environment or to the community. It is stupid planning when you have a DA for 111-150 houses 200 metres away on mostly cleared farmland held up by the Department of Planning also under Mr Kelly’s portfolio.

We call upon the Minister for Lands to ask himself as Minister for Planning to drop this dangerous, absurd proposal.”

Ratepayers Meeting April 9, 2010

April 13, 2010

Hall packed for meeting on Estate plan

13 Apr, 2010 09:32 AM
Tourist and locals alike packed into the Crescent Head Community Hall on Friday night to object the Goolawah Estate development application.The group is opposing Lands Minister Tony Kelly’s plan to reactivate a development application for 80 new lots at the sensitive site near Crescent Head.

Greens MLC Sylvia Hale was a gust speaker at the meeting.

She said people were strongly supportive of not subdividing Goolawah and clearly want it to be preserved.

“When 105 people from a town of 900 turn up to a Friday night meeting and there’s standing room only, it’s clear it’s a very hot issue,” Ms Hale said.

“They were concerned about the threats to koalas, glossy black cockatoos, flying foxes.”

Local environmental activist John Jeayes’ also presented a video at the meeting showed what would be lost if sections 3-5 of the Goolawah Estate was to be developed.

Crescent Head Ratepayers and Residents Association

vice president Mark Baxter said the meeting was very positive.

“Sylvia was fantastic and highlighted how the State Government is in debt,” Mr Baxter said.

“The bottom line is they want our forest to make $20-$25 million.”

He said a petition signed by more than 100 people was on its way to Mr Kelly’s office opposing the development.

“We have also invited Mr Kelly to walk through our beautiful and magical forest,” Mr Baxter said.

“I’m also amazed how many tourist are concerned about subdividing Goolawah.”

Last week, a spokesperson for Mr Kelly said an endangered species of paperbark tree was identified on the proposed Block B development and gazetted as an endangered ecological community.

“While the DA is still valid, the Land and Property Management Authority (LPMA) has received representations on the ecological values and has been consulting widely on the issue,” the spokesperson said.

“LPMA is investigating how development may proceed taking into account the endangered species and environ-mental issues.”

Mr Kelly’s announcement that the development would proceed amazed many locals, who had been assured by the Department of Lands’ own office in Taree that the development would never be allowed.

Nationals fight to save forest

April 13, 2010

Nats in fight to save forest

JOHN JEAYES

06 Apr, 2010 09:03 AM

IN what has to be a political first, the NSW Nationals and the Greens have independently decided to fight the proposal by Minister Tony Kelly to reactivate a development application for 80 new lots at Crescent Head.

When Mr Kelly settled the Dunghutti native title claim with compensation to the Dunghutti people of $6.1 million, he announced the subdivision at Goolawah Estate would proceed.

This announcement dumbfounded many locals, who had been assured by the Taree Lands office that the Government would never allow that area to be developed because of an endangered ecological community in the forest.

Oxley MP and Nationals leader Andrew Stoner told the Argus:

“The NSW Labor Government has a bad reputation for being too close to the development industry, but in this case they have become the developer themselves.

“In their haste to recover the $6.1 million they had to outlay over the bungled land title case, they are set to breach all the principles of environmental protection.

“The Keneally Labor Government is set to bulldoze trees and other habitat of a number of species, including likely endangered species.

“This is a Government now completely devoid of any form of moral compass.”

Greens MLC Ian Cohen had stood in the Goolawah forest years, wearing an animal suit, when the community campaigned to conserve it.

He also thought the battle had been won.

He said it was absolutely hypocritical of Mr Kelly to talk about sensitivity on one hand regarding management of Crown Land but on the other to be prepared to destroy a link in the corridor system through Limeburners Nature Reserve, the new Goolawah National Park and then through Hat Head National Park, linking the Hastings River with the Macleay.

He pointed to the need for links between vegetated areas under the effects of global warming to allow migration.

He said to allege there was a chronic shortage of residential homes in Crescent Head was disingenuous.

A large proportion of the town consisted of shells rented out to tourists, and it made no sense to destroy a valuable forest when there was a proposal for 111 to 150 homes 200m away at Killuke.Top of Form

 IN what has to be a political first, the NSW Nationals and the Greens have independently decided to fight the proposal by Minister Tony Kelly to reactivate a development application for 80 new lots at Crescent Head.

When Mr Kelly settled the Dunghutti native title claim with compensation to the Dunghutti people of $6.1 million, he announced the subdivision at Goolawah Estate would proceed.

This announcement dumbfounded many locals, who had been assured by the Taree Lands office that the Government would never allow that area to be developed because of an endangered ecological community in the forest.

Oxley MP and Nationals leader Andrew Stoner told the Argus:

“The NSW Labor Government has a bad reputation for being too close to the development industry, but in this case they have become the developer themselves.

“In their haste to recover the $6.1 million they had to outlay over the bungled land title case, they are set to breach all the principles of environmental protection.

“The Keneally Labor Government is set to bulldoze trees and other habitat of a number of species, including likely endangered species.

“This is a Government now completely devoid of any form of moral compass.”

Greens MLC Ian Cohen had stood in the Goolawah forest years, wearing an animal suit, when the community campaigned to conserve it.

He also thought the battle had been won.

He said it was absolutely hypocritical of Mr Kelly to talk about sensitivity on one hand regarding management of Crown Land but on the other to be prepared to destroy a link in the corridor system through Limeburners Nature Reserve, the new Goolawah National Park and then through Hat Head National Park, linking the Hastings River with the Macleay.

He pointed to the need for links between vegetated areas under the effects of global warming to allow migration.

He said to allege there was a chronic shortage of residential homes in Crescent Head was disingenuous.

A large proportion of the town consisted of shells rented out to tourists, and it made no sense to destroy a valuable forest when there was a proposal for 111 to 150 homes 200m away at Killuke.

The Coalition spokesperson on the environment, Catherine Cusack, will visit the site on April 18 to gain a first hand appraisal of the situation.

Mark Baxter of the Crescent Head Ratepayers and Residents Association welcomed the politicians’ involvement and said he was amazed at the level of support locally, and from all over NSW.

Mr Baxter said: “We are ecstatic that the Greens MLC, Sylvia Hale, is flying up especially to address a Ratepayers information meeting next Friday at the Community Hall at Crescent Head, with a dinner later at the Thai restaurant of the Mediterranean Motel.”

“Another argument for preserving the forest is the fact that the forest provides a beautiful bush track that locals and tourists use to walk to back beach.

“The people who live at and holiday at Crescent Head should be allowed to have a say on how Crescent Head should grow and mature and not be dictated to by a cash-strapped government.

“All people concerned about this issue are invited to our meeting this Friday at 6.30pm.

Please phone me on 6566 0925 if you wish to stay for dinner at the Thai restaurant afterwards).”

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