Rare bushland given 'potential irreversible impact status'
Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland, rare bushland unique to the Peninsula, has been given "potential Serious and Irreversible Impact status", according to a report from the State's environment department.
The report found that a planning proposal to rezone recreation land in Macleay Ave to residential "will result in the removal of 1948 square metres of ... Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland".
The report recommends that "the development footprint is reduced", warning that the council cannot issue development approval if the status is confirmed on assessment.
The report was prepared by the Biodiversity Conservation Division of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, as a result of a requirement of the "gateway determination" allowing the rezoning.
The report states: "Due to the very limited geographic distribution of this endangered ecological community, it has been given potential Serious and Irreversible Impact status in accordance with Principle 3 (i.e. it has a very limited geographic distribution) when impacts are assessed under the Biodiversity Offset Scheme."
The report questions the Central Coast Council's evaluation of the impact on the rare bushland.
"Central Coast Council's planning proposal appears to assume that there will not be significant effects on UCSW because, although vegetation will be removed from the western part of the lot, the vegetation is retained in the drainage line on the eastern side of the lot.
"However, the majority of the vegetation in the drainage line in the east is not UCSW.
"Most of the impacts on UCSW on the western side of the drainage line are not being avoided.
"The council also appears to be relying on the future development application process for detail about the amount of UCSW which will be removed.
"The maps supplied indicate that most of the UCSW on the western side of the drainage line will be turned into car parks and the peripheral road which will act as an Asset Protection Zone.
"Central Coast Council will have to determine at the development application stage whether the impacts of the development will have a significant effect on the UCSW and are a potential Serious and Irreversible Impact.
"If CCC decides that the proposal will have a significant effect on the UCSW, the Biodiversity Offset Scheme will be triggered."
The report also recommends that the cumulative impacts on Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland should be considered, taking into account both recent and proposed developments on Woy Woy Peninsula.
The report stated: "The change from a partly vegetated site in a RE1 zone to a residential zone reduces the environmental protection standards that apply to the land.
"The loss of environmental protection of the subject site should be given appropriate consideration."
The report recommended that, if the proposal goes ahead as planned with the removal of the UCSW on this site, the council should consider how this would affect the work being done under the management plan being prepared for UCSW by the Council and the Department's Saving Our Species team.
"Any additional funding for the restoration and conservation of UCSW should consider existing management plans."
Central Coast Council is advertising the planning proposal for public comment until September 1.
"The vacant land is in an established residential area and adjoins land already developed for medium density housing," according to the description on the Council's Your Voice Our Coast website.
"The proposal will enable the provision of affordable rental housing to meet the needs of the community."
The website states: "No specific residential development is proposed as part of the Planning Proposal.
"However the proponent is an affordable housing provider and it is intended to develop the land for medium density affordable housing."
Website, 19 Aug 2022
YourVoiceOurCoast, Central Coast Council