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The true value of environmental living

by Maria Taylor

The opinion offered by a prominent Bungendore businessman at the 5 September council meeting that Wamboin and Bywong used to be bushland of low utility for agriculture until people improved it, got the story exactly backwards.

Palerang’s extensive (and unique in NSW) rural residential enclaves, that include also Carwoola, Burra and more, have developed on what was often clapped out sheep farms. There were also pockets of remnant native vegetation.

Rural residential Palerang now has valuable environmental and aesthetic qualities – including pleasing green vistas that screen out other houses – largely thanks to the efforts of new hobby farmers and bush block residents. They planted a gazillion trees, let the remnant vegetation and native grasses regenerate and at the same time many used their land for small-scale agriculture or for grazing, particularly of horses.

As Palerang’s planning head John Wright has stated, all this means that, yes, there are recognised environmental and aesthetic values here and also wildlife corridors that have developed over time and are often regional. If you plant trees and restore understorey, then animals, from black cockatoos and a myriad other birds, to marsupials and reptiles like the threatened Rosenberg’s Monitor might well make a comeback and have done so.

That doesn’t mean, as some people suggest, that wildlife corridors will be imposed across blocks like railway lines.  Or that any landholder will be forced to plant trees, or denied fire hazard reduction. That is not what LEP zoning is about.

‘Environmental living’ may be an unfortunate naming option offered by the state of NSW in some people’s view. But really it doesn’t mean more than living in the natural environment, rather than in a town or village. The related objectives set out in the LEP (note the name: the Local ENVIRONMENT Plan) are to safeguard people’s environment when new development is proposed.  In Palerang’s case, the objectives mimic what was there in the previous LEP.

As for the oft-repeated argument of those insisting that E4 be banished and all rural residential, well at least Bywong, should be wrapped into the zone governing large lots around villages (R5), consider this: there is no ‘default’ directive to use R5 for rural residential. For proof go no further than the NSW planning department, which has signed off on Palerang’s and Queanbeyan’s similar use of the E4 zone for our particular rural residential areas that were previously 1(d)  in old Yarrowlumla.

Online Community Petition

A group of Bywong residents created the petition “RURAL RESIDENTIAL ZONING UNDER THREAT: TALK TO PALERANG COUNCIL NOW”

This campaign  is urgent and important for all rural residential landholders who don’t want to be represented to Council by a noisy minority with special interests in changing the zoning name and conditions we will have when the new Local Environment Plan LEP is finalised. You can read more and sign the petition here: http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/rural-residential-zoning-under-threat-talk-to-palerang-council-now

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