Firstly, some background
Included in the recommendations of the Draft RLS is to resolve the outstanding rezoning issues for land slated to be zoned E3 Environmental Management. It is proposed to zone those areas RU1 Primary Production, in combination with a Native Vegetation Overlay, to guard against further habitat loss and threats to biodiversity in the face of subdivision and development, but without the more restrictive impositions of the E3 zoning.
Biodiversity is essential to the practice of sustainable agriculture. The Draft RLS acknowledges that "Without retaining and enhancement of connectivity of habitat across the private landscape, further decline in native species seems certain." (Draft RLS Section 5.4 p.28). The document goes on to state:
At Council's meeting of 22 July 2014, Council resolved that overlays not be included in the local environmental plan and that the Rural Lands Committee give further consideration to the options for the appropriate alternative use of the overlays. The Committee considered this matter and at its meeting of 18 September 2015 resolved to note that there were some divergent views within the Committee as to whether the Native Vegetation Overlay should be included in the LEP. The Committee suggested there be a further discussion with the community about the use of a Native Vegetation Overlay during the public exhibition of the draft Strategy. (Draft RLS Section 5.4 p.28)
The current Terrestrial Biodiversity Overlay has been in the LEP since 2012 and has been useful in ensuring clear advice on environmental constraints to prospective developers. In addition little issue seems to have been generated by its use by approximately 60 % of NSW councils with such an overlay. The majority of coastal and tableland councils have elected to contain an overlay on native vegetation in their LEPs. (Draft RLS Section 5.9.3 p.46)
The use of overlays in the Eurobodalla is at risk, as it is being opposed by a few, very vocal and determined individuals with a pro-subdivision agenda. At this point, their interests are well represented in this process of public consultation, while the interests of local agriculture are not. Everyone’s been a bit busy farming or running a local food economy, so we’re calling on our membership to voice their support in preserving agricultural land in our shire.
The issues are broad and numerous, but SAGE is inviting members to make a submission to Council supporting the issues that directly impact local food production. We have summarised them below and you might like to use them as a guide for your submission.