Contempt for

conservation land continues

Central Coast Council's illegal land use and clearing around the Warnervale air strip continues unabated, despite persistent community objection. Community concerns fall on deaf ears as council's and are meet with nothing more than contempt in their efforts to protect conservation land.

Enlarged recent view of Central Coast air strip.

28 February 2024

 

THE Central Coast’s peak environmental organisation, the Community Environment Network (CEN), has again called for NSW Government intervention to investigate what appears to be illegal activities, including the clearing of an ecologically endangered community (EEC), on land zoned C2 for conservation.

 

“We believe current activities at the Warnervale aircraft landing area (ALA), which Central Coast Council calls the Central Coast Airport, are unlawfully taking place on land zoned C2 for conservation,” said CEN Chair, Mr Gary Chestnut.

 

“C2 is the highest level of protection that can be given to land outside of a National Park or Nature Reserve. The C2 zone applies to areas that contain high ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic values. The objectives of the zone are to protect those resources and to prevent development that could destroy, damage or otherwise have an adverse effect on those values. The operation of an airport is prohibited on C2 land.

 

“While preparing our submission in response to the recent exhibition of a Masterplan for the airport, I’ve used NSW Department of Planning spatial tools and discovered what appears to be unlawful clearing of vegetation and the unlawful carrying out of airport activities on C2 Conservation land,” Mr Chestnut said.

 

“We have identified that the Central Coast Council appears to have cleared approximately 4 hectares of Endangered Ecological Community (EEC) on land zoned C2,” he said.

Aerial view of Central Coast air strip after 2015.

According to CEN, it appears that Council has moved its End of Runway markings south by 150 metres in late 2022 or some time in 2023.

 

“The runway now intrudes into the land zoned C2 Environmental Conservation. Using the area calculator facility in the NSW Planning Spatial Viewer, we calculate that approximately 7,000 m2 of the runway falls within land zoned C2,” Mr Chestnut said.

 

Mr Chestnut said CEN has written to Central Coast Council CEO, Mr David Farmer, and multiple NSW Government Ministers, including the Environment Minister, The Hon Penny Sharpe MLC, to draw their attention to this potentially unlawful activity.

 

“We are concerned the Council may not have undertaken an environmental assessment, as required under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. If an officer of Council had undertaken an ‘Activity Assessment’ they would have determined that the council could not proceed with the End of Runway relocation as it is a prohibited land use, said Mr Chestnut.

 

“We have also found evidence of what appears to be recent vegetation clearing within the C2 zone.

 

“CEN has been engaged in extensive and ongoing communication with Central Coast Council about its mismanagement of C2 Conservation land around the Warnervale aircraft landing area since 2021.

 

“We consider this and related matters, including the exhibition of a masterplan that fundamentally ignores the need to protect Porters Creek Wetland and all adjoining C2 land, as an example of egregiously poor planning and environmental management on behalf of Central Coast Council.

 

“We await a response from Mr Farmer detailing how he intends to address this alleged unlawful use and activity on conservation land. We are also looking forward to responses from the Minister for Planning, The Hon Paul Scully MP, the Minister for Local Government, The Hon Ron Hoenig MP and Minister Sharpe regarding the issues raised.

 

“We are raising this matter weeks after launching a major campaign, The Coast Deserves a Better Plan, which details other examples of Central Coast Council’s mismanagement of land zoning and its ongoing failure to protect threatened species, wildlife corridors and Aboriginal heritage.

 

“These matters are also currently in the hands of NSW Government Ministers."

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