Finally we have some clarity to our challenge of the rejection to our Gateway proposal regarding blueberry farm development in our shire. The NSW state government has requested that the Independent Planning Commission provide it with their recommendation regarding the matter.
Council’s proposal was asking that buffer zones be put in place around residents’ properties and beside our streams and waterways before any development occurs. This is particularly pertinent as there have now been two recent scientific studies done by Southern Cross University that show unacceptable rates of nitrates, phosphates and sediments in the waterways adjacent to some blueberry farm developments in the Coffs region.
In addition, we have to be even more diligent about protecting the shire’s waterways as we are in drought and the rivers are our major source of drinking water and crucial for our agriculture and tourism industries.
FORESTRY OPERATIONS AGREEMENT
It is also disturbing to see the Environmental Defenders Office’s assessment of the new Integrated Forestry Operations Agreement proposal by NSW Forest Corporation. It suggests that if the new IFOA was approved it would result in the logging of forests that were formerly protected by conservation agreements agreed on by government bodies, the timber industry and conservationists in the 1970s. It could result in areas that were formerly classified as old growth forest being logged and would include a much larger area of our publicly owned forest estate being earmarked for intensive logging practices.
There is also a proposal to reduce the size of buffer zones in some of the smaller order streams in the upper catchment that would ultimately impact the health of the rivers. I have real concerns about the impact and increase of intensive logging practices on our catchment and river system. The fact that our forests are located largely in steep country with highly erodible soils and in areas of high rainfall events is something we should all be concerned about.
SCULPTURES IN THE PARK
On a happier note the Sculptures in the Park on Sunday was an amazing event. Coinciding with Father’s Day Picnic in the Park a large crowd enjoyed the sunshine and entertainment. I congratulate all the talented artists who took part and thank the sponsors and organisers for putting on such an inclusive event at this great location.
Cr Dominic King
6 September 2018