The Conservation Council has engaged actively in the planning processes concerning the urban development of the Molonglo Valley (viz East Molonglo and Central Molonglo) over a number of years. However, we are increasingly dismayed and alarmed over the lack of proper balance between conservation and development, in what appears to be ad hoc planning processes rather than an overall, well formulated and publicly consulted strategic plan, and also lack of meaningful community engagement.
Particular issues of concern to the Conservation Council are:
- Central Molonglo – Council is seeking an assurance that the Government decision and policy to conserve this land in perpetuity will be followed, and this land is NOT developed, and for conservation management plans and actions to be put in place there to enhance this habitat over time.
- The buffer from housing on the Kama Nature Reserve (pictured) – resolution of the buffer issue on the south-eastern boundary of Kama Nature Reserve with Molonglo Stage 3, ensuring a wide enough buffer so no fire management that may compromise conservation values occurs in the reserve and urban edge effects are minimised (weed incursion, rubbish dumping, high recreation use, for example).
- The Coombs Peninsula moratorium – Council would like to see this land remain as open space, managed as a buffer to the reserve, to ensure inner and outer asset protection zones are outside the river reserve (and Pink-tailed Worm-lizard habitat), arguments Council presented when it appealed to ACAT in 2012.
- Concerns about the EIS exemption for Stage 3 Molonglo – clarification of exactly what has changed from the existing NES Plan (under the Commonwealth agreement) as a result of the proposed development footprint outlined in the exemption and why the NES Plan isn’t being met in some areas, i.e. a full explanation of what planning is proposed in the exemption.
Specifically, the Conservation Council has concerns about the protection, management and enhancement of Patches C, H and N and whether Outer Asset Protection Zones or Strategic Firefighting Advantage Zones are within the Molonglo River Reserve.
Given the recent western rural land purchase issues reported by the ACT Auditor-General, the Conservation Council considers there is a need for a formal planning strategy for all potential development and land use changes in the Molonglo Valley, including full consideration of fire issues as well as conservation issues:
- a transparent planning strategy, with full public disclosure of plans and adequate public consultation, and
- land management plans developed and implemented early (well in advance of any possible development) to enhance areas (including the land purchases) for conservation and to provide habitat corridor links.