The decision to develop Bahrs Scrub can still be reversed by Logan City Council!
Despite the claims by Logan City Council representatives and publications that the development of the BSP is a foregone conclusion, decreed by the State Govt, the SEQ RP clearly states that the ultimate development decision is at the discretion of the local authority.
'Local government planning schemes are the main instrument that will establish and refine the desired use of land and the preferred timing of development within the Urban Footprint.' (SEQ RP, p15)
Major constraints such as flora and fauna sensitivity, geological impediments such as steepness of slopes, social concerns such as loss of scenic amenity and overcrowding, or disruption, loss and contamination of important waterways that not only service biodiversity and drain the region, but are a major catchment for the nearby Albert River, make the Bahrs Scrub locality totally unsuitable for consideration as a Greenfiield site.
Our State Govt and local Council must make the only decision that can serve the interests of the community, our natural heritage, as well as our responsibility to play a local role in mitigating dangerous climate change. Logan City Council and the Queensland Government must reverse the decison to develop the potential biodiversity hotspot of Bahrs Scrub, and instead preserve and regenerate the Precinct for all time.
Logan City Council Community Information so far:
On October 9, 2009, the Logan City Council presented to the local community and interested parties an outline of the Local Development Area Plan for the Bahrs Scrub Precinct.
Cr Sean Black, speaking on behalf of the LCC, claimed that Council had decided to go ahead with development of Bahrs Scrub 'sooner rather than later, in consultation with landowners'. Cr Black also stated that development of the Bahrs Scrub Precinct (BSP) was mandated by the South East Queensland Regional Plan.
LCC staff informed the community that the BSP was to accommodate 7000 -11000 residents over the next 15-20 years; with 15 dwellings per hectare minimum mandated by the State Government to 'create a modern, diverse lifestyle'. Unlike other areas, the Bahrs Scrub Local Development Area (LDA) has a minimum density requirement.
The community meeting was told that the State Government has decreed that development of the BSP must occur before 2031, and has in fact been fast-tracked for development within the next five years. In order to accommodate the unprecedented population growth of the South East Queensland region which the State Government deems must be shared by all coastal Councils, LCC is required to supply 28 infill and 42 greenfileld sites for development; the Bahrs Scrub Precinct is planned to be one of those 42 greenfield sites.
The proportion of greenfield sites is significantly high despite the urgent requirement of the present era to stem urban sprawl for protection of Australia's fast disappearing biodiversity and to avoid the worst ravages of anthropogenic climate change.The Qld Government itself acknowledges in the South East Queensland Regional Plan (SEQ RP) the importance of 'Compact Settlement' (Part D8) when defining the Urban Footprint; furthermore, the SEQ RP clearly states that areas within the Urban Footprint which offer 'constraints such as flooding, land slope, scenic amenity, and the need to protect significant biodiveristy values' will be 'unsuitable' for development (see SEQ RP, page 15 ).
Council officers also made much of the public assurance that development of the BSP would be, “ A new and modern community in a sustainable setting” (BSLDA Mission Statement, LCC, 2009); however, this statement is a contradiction in terms, when the physical constraints of the BSP such as steepness of large areas, the QLd Dept of Infrastructure and Planning (DIP) density requirements, existing Gold Coast City Council (GCCC) steep slopes codes, visual amenity guides, social amenity considerations, and, most critically, potential loss of,or damage to,one of Queensland - and Australia's - biodiversity hotspots.
Neither Council nor the State Government DIP appears to be appreciate or acknowledge that Bahrs Scrub, a potential biodiversity hotspot and a steep region with numerous waterways, presents a series of grave constraints to development, which will either cost LCC (and subsequently the ratepayers) considerable expenditure on comprehensive flora, fauna, hydrological and geomorphological mapping to determine what local residents and concerned conservationists already know, or which will be ignored, with the result that extremely valuable flora and fauna may be lost forever to developer greed and public complacency.
Bahrs Scrub and neighboring residents, highly qualified professionals within the Qld EPA, and conservation-minded indviduals and groups, such as the Save Bahrs Scrub Alliance have long been aware of the stunning biodiversity values of the BSP, which is home to unique rainforest plants as well as rare and threatened plant species, and also serves as vital habitat for a wide range of fauna, including the koala, sugar glider and platypus. These groups and individuals also have a long history of informing governing authorities about the values of Bahrs Scrub; however, decades of submissions, reports and entreaties have fallen on deaf ears, leaving the potential conservation values of Bahrs Scrub officially unrecognised. This lack of official acknowledgement of the flora and fauna of Bahrs Scrub has enabled the Qld Government, the GCCC, and now the LCC to expand the development zonings for the area, and have left Bahrs Scrub unprotected by state and national envrionmental protection laws.
The Bahrs Scrub Precinct has already lost and is losing forest habitat to old, Gold Coast City Council development approvals which never acknowledged remnant vegetation, koala populations or rare and endangered flora in the area, let alone issues such as climate change. Present and completed clearing practices demonstrate no signs of understanding sustainability principles. Furthermore, LCC has no clear or meaningful definition of the word despite numerous public roundtables, committees and regular meetings with conservation groups of the area identified under the banner of 'sustainability'.
The Council's community workshop in October, 2009 presented the Bahrs Scrub Local Development Area as a fait accompli, citing the stages of the community consultation process as moving from Planning Scheme Amendment to Development Assessment to Construction, as though the ultimate fate of Bahrs Scrub as a densely developed area the size of neighboring Beenleigh were already decided and community feelings were irrelevant.
'Sustainable' development of Bahrs Scrub is a convenient term that belies the impossibility of ensuring the needs of both the infrastructure of whole townships (as a developed Bahrs Scrub would be), and undisturbed and even regenerated natural spaces to accommodate vital and fragile ecosytems are met. Comments from Council officers on October 9/09, such as,'We’ll have to do our homework there' (re regrowth and remnant status of BSP forest and re flooding) or, 'A bushfire threat exists but will go if we cut down trees' inspire even less confidence in the authority's ability to comprehend an appropriate vision of sustainability for the area let alone implement one.
Urban sprawl and development has no place in a potential biodiversity hotspot.
Please act now to Save Bahrs Scrub!