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Eurobodalla Draft Rural Lands Strategy

Council are asking for your input

Deadline: Friday 27 November

(this Friday!!)

Since 2012, the Eurobodalla Shire Council has been working on a new Rural Lands Strategy that “aims to set a clear 20 year vision for the role of Council in the rural lands of Eurobodalla Shire” (Draft RLS Section 2.1 p.5). The RLS Steering Committee has been meeting regularly to shape the content and recommendations of the document. It was recently released by Council for public comment, before determining the final strategy. The closing date for submissions is this Friday 27 November.

The strategy covers all uses of rural lands in the shire. Obviously, this includes agricultural use and therefore SAGE – and the local food industry – has a vested interest in the outcomes of the strategy as and when it is implemented.

The SAGE Executive would like to invite SAGE members to make a personal submission on the Draft RLS and we have outlined below the issues that we agree are important to local agriculture.

Click the image to download a copy of the Draft RLS.

This is just the first volume, which summarises the draft strategy.

There are two other volumes also available for download, including 10 discussion papers and 23 maps. You don't have to read all of that, as the first volume provides a good summary, but some of you might be interested.


Submissions can be made in writing to PO Box 99, Moruya, by email or by using Council's online feedback form and should be received by 27 November 2015.

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)

It continues:

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.

Addressing the Summary of Recommended Council Actions, Section 6 of the Draft Rural Lands Strategy:

  • It is SAGE’s strong desire that prime agricultural land be identified and preserved from any development other than agriculture. Specifically, SAGE supports the action recommended in the Draft RLS stated in Section (pp.50-51).
  • The use of Native Vegetation Overlays is an essential practice for ensuring this. SAGE requests that the overlays are examined, made more accurate and current, and that they are retained. Specifically, SAGE supports the action recommended in the Draft RLS stated in Sections (p.50) and 6.2.2 (p.52) and 6.5.1 (pp.61-62).
  • Concerning local agriculture more generally, over the 20-year time frame of the strategy, small, mixed, integrated farming systems will be gaining greater traction and forming a significant part of our economy. Specifically, SAGE supports the objectives of the Draft RLS stated in Sections 6.1.2 and 6.1.3 (p.48).
  • SAGE believes that the local food industry is a small but significant and growing contributor to the local economy, that requires support as it re-establishes itself. Farmers markets and other innovative supply chain solutions must be supported by Council in whatever way possible. Specifically, SAGE supports the actions of the Draft RLS stated in Sections 6.4.2 and 6.4.3 (pp.58-59).
  • In supporting smaller producers, Council has a role to play in helping growers access private land more readily through leasing arrangements. Specifically, SAGE supports the action recommended in the Draft RLS stated in Section (p.64).
  • A local food economy also needs workable food safety legislation for the value-adding of local primary produce. Specifically, SAGE supports the action recommended in the Draft RLS stated in Section 6.6.2 (p.64).
  • Local agriculture will not develop in any way that will keep up with the rest of the economy if producers cannot get reliable and consistent internet access and Council should be lobbying Federal Government to increase services in the shire. Specifically, SAGE supports the action recommended in the Draft RLS stated in Section 6.6.4 (p.64).

The Rural Lands Strategy will be a very important and influential document and the interests of agricultural producers and local residents who want to see the local food economy thrive are currently under-represented in this consultation process.

Regrettably, we haven't managed to get this information out to our membership sooner. However, we hope some of you will put aside an evening this week to inform yourself and make a considered submission to Council that supports the position SAGE has taken, before close of business this Friday.

Thank you for supporting local and sustainable agriculture!

Copyright © 2015 Sustainable Agriculture & Gardening Eurobodalla Inc, All rights reserved.

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