Dr Wansbrough … is not wrong … our forests, bushlands, flora and fauna are vital for our well being.  We have so little, a mere remnant remains of our Blue Gum High Forest.

Mirvac is proposing R4 high density residential zoning over virtually the whole site, including almost 10 hectares of remnant Blue Gum High Forest.

The photo here depicts development not unlike the Mirvac at Harold Park of townhomes/terraces contained within an apartment block.  The community of The Crescent and Glebe are not happy with the Harold Park redevelopment;  it is stark and out of character with the terraces and cottages of Glebe.

Residents have been opposing redevelopment for higher density of the IBM Site for years …



Doctor warns of West Pennant Hills Mirvac development impacts

Artist impression of the proposed development at 55 Coonara Ave, West Pennant Hills.

A DOCTOR who has objected to a Mirvac development at West Pennant Hills labelled it an amoral move to destroy forests and warned it was dangerous for the community’s mental health.


Dr Robert Wansbrough spoke about the 600-dwelling development planned for 55 Coonara Ave, West Pennant Hills at The Hills Shire council meeting last week. He said said living in such a development could exacerbate mental health problems, including the breakdown of relationships, cause depression and violence.

“When close to nature our heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones decrease, plus our endorphins and good health hormones increase,” Dr Wansbrough said. “Physical, mental and social activities are more enjoyable and more beneficial when they are done in a natural environment rather than in the jungle of buildings, roads, cars, buses and trucks of suburbia.

“Our society has a high incidence of mental illness which is increasing exponentially due to the stresses and pressures of life in these times. Depression, memory loss and cognitive dysfunction can spiral into social isolation, violence and suicide.”

Artist impression of the proposed development at 55 Coonara Ave, West Pennant Hills.


Dr Wansbrough said time spent in a forest such as the one at Coonara Ave could delay or prevent the onset of memory loss and mental disorders.

“It is unconscionable and amoral to allow a forest to be destroyed for commercial exploitation,” he said.

“If our State politicians, bureaucrats and the Hills Shire Council allow the Mirvac development at 55 Coonara Ave, West Pennant Hills to proceed, they will have to be accountable for the harmful effects that replacing 20- plus hectares of native Australian forest with bricks, mortar and asphalt will have on residents.

“If this forest is lost, so will the immense therapeutic and preventive health benefits that this natural resource affords.”

Research by beyondblue said the benefits for people who visited green, open spaces was vast.

Mirvac residential development general manager Toby Long said Mirvac built developments that left a positive legacy. “We focus on the health and wellbeing of those living in and around the communities in which we operate,” he said. “In this case, our proposal maintains the existing natural remnant forests and includes public access to the forest areas and dedication of open space for public recreation.”

The proposed two-storey houses as part of Mirvac’s proposal for Coonara Ave, West Pennant Hills.


WEST Pennant Hills residents’ anxieties over the future of the valley are growing after the State Government released a plan that shows the environmental significance of the site.

Mirvac plans to develop the site at 55 Coonara Ave where forest now stands.

Protecting Your Suburban Environment spokeswoman Jan Primrose said over 270 residents had sent letters voicing their objection to the proposal to the Planning Department, ministers, the developers and Hills Shire council.

Mirvac is proposing the development of 600 high and medium-density houses at the former IBM site.

Ms Primrose said key issues such as the Darling Mills Creek corridor, which was on this site, being included in Sydney’s Green Grid Plan were ignored.

“While there’s a lot of areas in Sydney that are under pressure from Priority Precincts and the resultant overdevelopment, this development is extraordinarily inappropriate,’’ she said.

The Greater Sydney Commission recognised the significance of the Darling Mills Creek as an important waterway for its ecological function and for greening and cooling the urban landscapes of the district in its Draft West Central Plan, which was exhibited in March.

“Many of the problems inherent in this proposal cannot be resolved after a Gateway approval,” Ms Primrose said.

“The problems should have been resolved before council sent the proposal off to the state government for determination — the Planning Department must not approve this development in its current form.”




Residents Infrastructure and Planning Alliance representative Justine Smillie said the Greater Sydney Commission has indicated that a precautionary approach be adopted when considering rezoning employment land.

“It is recognised by planning experts that access to employment near the home is a key element of livability,” she said.

“An alternate option for the site would be an education precinct, noting that the population of the area is forecast to increase by approximately 30 per cent over the next 20 years, there will be a need for additional schools and tertiary education facilities. Both the location and facilities of this site make it ideal for use as an integrated secondary and tertiary campus.”

Mirvac Residential Development general manager Toby Long said Mirvac is working to understand and preserve the ecological importance of the surrounding environment.

“We have done extensive ecological mapping of the site, including the Darling Mills Creek,” he said. “While the planning is still underway, our proposal preserves Darling Mills Creek and the site’s natural remnant forest.

“Our plans sit within the existing footprint of the IBM buildings and roads, and protects the existing Blue Gum High forest and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark forests.”




‘Rampant’ tree removal leading to ‘ecological disaster’ in Sydney’s northwest

THE rampant ecological disaster gathered pace from 2011 with the NSW LNP Planning Law changes … for higher density … Sydney is growing was the subliminal greedy deve-loper message …

SO much for the “buck passing”, blame game …

RYDE COUNCIL around that time was controlled by a casting vote Liberal Mayor pushing for ever more development across the LGA.

The Ivanhoe Public Housing Estate is undergoing demolition as the NSW Government continues to search for replacement housing for tenants for this site to be replaced by almost 2,000 private dwellings, 950 social housing dwellings and 128 affordable homes.

Meanwhile there are 190,000 people on a Waiting List for Public Housing across Australia.  Despite this during the terms of the NSW LNP much of the Public Housing stock has been sold off! (2011 – 2019)

The HORNSBY SHIRE was subject to the ETTT and more than 30,000 trees chopped to make way for a third rail track … from recollection!

AND since then the North-West has been annihilated by tree clearing for high-rise precincts, medium-rise apartment blocks, terraces, townhouses, triplex, duplex and villas … view CAAN Photo Albums to view the impact of their bulk with the loss of amenity for their neighbours!

HOW can saplings replace the shade and beauty of 30, 50, 100 year old indigenous gum trees?


Mature trees being cut down near the Epping town centre last week.
Mature trees being cut down near the Epping town centre last week.

‘Rampant’ tree removal leading to ‘ecological disaster’ in Sydney’s northwest


16 January 2019


Sydney’s northwest is facing an “ecological disaster” as a chainsaw massacre of thousands of trees in leafy suburbs make way for new developments and send urban heat soaring.


Preliminary works on major developments in Macquarie Park and Epping are cutting down hundreds of trees as a war of words breaks out over who is to blame for the “environmental atrocity” turning suburbs into concrete jungles.

As the northwest bakes in searing heat this week, photos taken at various sites near Epping town centre in recent days show how mature trees are being carted off in trucks, leaving barren landscapes in preparation for developments such as the $500 million Cbus three-towers project on Langston Place.

A mature tree cut down on Chambers Court, Epping, last week, leaving a big slab of concrete.


At Macquarie Park, there will be 858 trees removed as part of the Ivanhoe Estate development, where 3500 new dwellings are being built on the corner of Herring and Epping roads.

Ryde Labor Mayor Jerome Laxale said he was stumped about how the “rampant” tree removal was allowed to occur instead of existing natives being included in new developments.

“Any ecologist worth their salt will tell you that you can’t compare a sapling to a 50-year-old tree,” said Cr Laxale, who will challenge Ryde Liberal MP Victor Dominello at the NSW election in March.

“All the sites where they are demolishing trees look like a war zone. It’s shocking and unacceptable to our community.

“The removal of trees at the Ivanhoe site is unprecedented for any one site in Ryde. If these plans are allowed to continue, it will be an ecological disaster.”

Hundreds of trees are being removed to make way for the Ivanhoe estate at Macquarie Park.


Mr Dominello hit back, saying: “The Ivanhoe development will not only result in more trees being planted and more open space than currently exists, it will also deliver affordable housing for local families and the elderly.

“Of the 7500 new dwellings built in Ryde since 2007, 73 per cent were approved by Ryde Council, and 24 per cent by the former Labor Government under the Part 3A regime.

“If the Mayor is serious about protecting trees he should mandate it as part of council’s planning approvals,” the Finance Minister said.

New data shows big developers and mum-and-dad investors are peppering Ryde and Parramatta councils with development applications to remove trees.

In 2018, Parramatta Council received 665 applications for tree removal and pruning, while Ryde had 422 requests for the legal removal or pruning of 666 trees.

In November alone, Parramatta had 37 applications for tree removal and 25 DAs were approved to chop down trees.

A big tree is cut down on Chambers Court, Epping, last week.


Parramatta Labor councillor Donna Davis is barking mad about the “loss of character” in suburbs like Epping.

“The State Government talks about tackling urban heat and striving for a greener city, but the reality is the legislation they passed in relation to trees has made it easier for trees to be removed through a push for increased development,” Cr Davis said.

“It frustrates the hell out of me. And we as a council need to look at our own regulations and look at what we can change to clamp down on all the tree removal.

“Both council and the State Government are not acting fast enough to prevent this environmental atrocity.”

However, Epping State Liberal MP Damien Tudehope said Cr Davis was “misplaced” in her attack on the Berejiklian Government.

“The conditions for development are imposed by councils,” he said. “Councils should be requiring an appropriate landscape plan for sites post-development.

A truck takes away a massive tree trunk in Epping last week.


“Whatever context a development is approved, it should be against a backdrop where there is a council report on tree use at the site.

“And at the sites you referred to in Epping, I’d suggest council has already approved for the removal of these trees. So it’s a bit rich for councillors to come back and say it’s the State Government’s fault for allowing the removal of trees.”

Parramatta Lord Mayor Andrew Wilson blamed the massive tree loss in the northwest on successive state governments dating back to the 1990s when Bob Carr was Premier.

“Bob Carr was a cheerleader for urban consolidation,” Cr Wilson said. “And when you are putting more people into a limited area, the environment is going to suffer.”


For Janet McGarry, the loss of trees at the Cbus development site near Epping train station is “just the tip of the iceberg” as the suburb “loses its very green essence”.

The public domain in the $500m Langston development.


The Epping Civic Trust president said last week’s widespread removal of trees around the town centre was “another nail in an ongoing saga”.

“It is the cumulative total of trees that have been lost that is the problem. It’s not a case of having one worst site for it,” Ms McGarry said.

“The trees always go in developments around the town centre. There’s no effort made to work around the existing trees, many of which are mature indigenous gum trees.

And replanting is not the same as old growth.

“The planning laws must be reviewed urgently to change this environmental disgrace.”

A Cbus spokesman said it had development consent to clear trees to allow for the construction of The Langston’s 19, 24 and 29-storey towers project.

An artist impression of Cbus Property’s mixed-use development on Langston Place, Epping.


“This site clearing necessitated removal of the existing vegetation on site, including five trees along the western side of Chambers Court,” the spokesman said.

“However, it is worth noting that The Langston development proposes the renewal and improvement of existing tree plantings, and associated landscaping elements, including the section along Chambers Court.

“Ultimately, this will result in replacement of the existing trees on the western side of Chambers Court with eight new mature London Plane trees.”

But State Labor candidate for Epping Alan Mascarenhas said the loss of any existing trees was an “atrocity against the historic character of Epping”.

“For me, it’s a simple equation,” he said. “Overdevelopment heats up our suburbs, trees cool them down.

“I don’t want Epping going the way of the Parramatta CBD where developers have run riot and the place is basically a tinderbox in summer.”


Trees are worth billions to Australia’s economy — but how we value them is changing





How much is a tree worth?

In economic terms, your answer depends on how you value them.

Forestry exports contribute $3 billion to Australia’s economy; its manufacturing, sales and service income make up around $24 billion per year.

Increasingly, agroforestry and carbon abatement initiatives also provide an economic benefit.

So while money might not grow on trees, they are becoming more profitable.

The money tree

Forestry makes up less than 1 per cent of Australia’s economy, which is not an insubstantial figure at a regional level.

And forest scientist Rowan Reid says the branches of the tree economy spread wider than you may think.


“It’s a matter of what the trees give you over their lifespan, which is biodiversity, erosion control… and shelter for livestock,” says Mr Reid, who owns a tree farm in Victoria’s Otway Ranges.

“It gives you those values as it’s growing.

“At the end, you cut a tree down, you’ve got the value of the timber. That’s the cherry on top.”

Andrew Jacobs, from plantation-based forestry company Forico, says it’s not possible to put a dollar value on a single tree.

“It depends how old the tree is, depends a bit on where it is,” he says.

Forico operates 185,000 hectares of land in Tasmania; more than half of that is plantation forest.


Mr Jacobs says an individual tree can cost anywhere between $1.50 to $2 to plant, and much more in maintenance.

In return, softwood trees “range from $70 to $175 per green metric tonne at the mill door,” he says, while hardwoods range from $100 to $140.

Are we valuing trees appropriately?

Peter Kanowski, a professor of forestry at the Australian National University, says we need to change the way we value trees to assess their full benefit.

Like Mr Reid, he says a tree’s profitability is about more than the wood sales it generates; they deliver “a much wider range of ecosystem services”.

This includes “carbon sequestration [and] water catchment values, depending on the tree’s biodiversity”.

“Our mechanisms for valuing those other than carbon are still pretty rudimentary,” he says.


For Mr Reid, it’s clear that managing a treed property is more profitable than a cleared property.

A land valuer recently placed his farm, Bambra, at around 30 per cent more financially lucrative because of its tree cover.

“You have a farmer who wants to buy [your property] because it’s well sheltered, you’ve got an environmentalist who wants to buy it because it’s actually providing biodiversity values, you’ve got someone who buys it because they anticipate that one day those trees will produce a high-value timber,” he explains.

“And then you’ve got someone who just says, ‘This is just a beautiful property, I want to buy it’.”

Changing nature of trees

Mr Reid is now a vocal proponent of agroforestry, which is increasingly gaining traction in Australia.

“Our family has been involved in farming for a couple of hundred years,” he says.

“If you look at it honestly, we’ve been involved in the degradation of our Australian landscape and the agricultural landscape.

“I saw the opportunity where forestry could be a regenerative, rehabilitating process for our Australian landscape.”



When his family’s attention turned to the next generation of farmers, Mr Reid — then 25 and a recent university graduate — saw an opportunity to take it in a new direction.

“My mum asked me a very simple question: ‘is there something you want to do with farmland?'” he says.

“I said ‘I’ve got this idea about attracting farmers and engaging them in tree-growing, but no one else is doing it the way that I visualised, so if I had some land, I could demonstrate that possibility’.”

Now, he has over 60 different timber species on Bambra farm, and is the chairman of the Australian Agroforestry Foundation.

A billion new trees by 2030?

Mr Jacobs says now is “a really good time to be in the tree business”.

“Demand is very high, around the world… if you’re in a plantation space with good certification and you’re producing a good product, then now is a really good time to be in forestry — which is a great contrast to say 10 years ago.”

Despite this high demand, Australia currently stands as a net importer of forest products.

“Most of what we import in terms of value is pulp and paper; we export wood chips and we re-import pulp and paper products,” Professor Kanowski says.


Mr Jacobs points out that the rate of new plantations has, in fact, decreased in the past decade.

“It’s been in decline or in a steady state, but now is actually declining since around 2008,” he says.

“And that’s a problem for us… we’re obviously selling a lot overseas but it’s not enough to supply our domestic market.”

That hasn’t escaped the Federal Government’s attention — earlier this year, it announced a target of a billion new trees by 2030.

One goal, the report states, is to “meet our future needs for wood and fibre”.

But it also acknowledges that, if the targets are met, we could see an additional 18 megatonnes of additional carbon sequestration in the next decade.

‘Untapped potential’: the role of carbon abatement

Carbon abatement — in this context, the role that trees can help play in sequestering carbon — is another financial incentive for planting more trees.


Skye Glenday is the head of strategy and risk at Climate Friendly, a business helping land managers assess their eligibility for carbon projects.

“If done the right way, the [billion trees goal could] deliver significant carbon abatement across the land,” she says.

Ms Glenday says carbon abatement offers a “significant revenue stream” for farmers she works with.

These schemes primarily operate through the Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund.

Ms Glenday works primarily with “mum and dad farmers”, based in north-west New South Wales and south-west Queensland.

“And they’re making decisions about how they can keep their land in agricultural productivity but also allow forest to regenerate on their properties,” she says.

These projects have the potential to bring in tens of thousands of dollars for farmers.

Even the smallest projects, Ms Glenday says, typically earn at least $100,000 each year.

“In the native regeneration areas, we’re finding that carbon is becoming a primary source of income for some landholders,” Ms Glenday says.

“In the plantation sector, it’s more about facilitating the expansion of the plantation sector and helping to address that growth capital need.”


More broadly, Ms Glenday sees the “untapped potential” of carbon abatement.

“We are a company of 25 people; we’ve got 100 projects already established… that delivers 40 million tons of carbon abatement,” she says.

“If a small company can delivery that, then I think collectively across Australia, we can meet our emissions reduction targets — and we’ve got a lot of potential to have a profitable land sector in the process.”

Topics: forestryruraltreesbusiness-economics-and-finance,climate-changeenvironmentcommunity-and-societyaustralia,vicaustralian-national-university-0200,





Labor to propose new Environmental Laws to enforce biodiversity and conservation

IT obviously cannot come soon enough!  With much of Australia’s Eastern Coast cleared for overdevelopment … not for Australians but for foreign buyers!  In Sydney’s urban fringes of Wilton, Appin, Mount Gilead, Menangle, Camden, Campbelltown a major threat to Koala habitat!

“Australia’s east coast has been compared to the Amazon as a “deforestation front” in a new global report by the World Wide Fund…

The report assessed 11 deforestation hotspots, where broadscale clearing had occurred at problematic levels since 2010, and where deforestation was expected to continue in the next decade. Eastern Australia was the only location in the developed world to make the list

More broadly, the WWF report explicitly notes that the near exponential rise in human population over the past 70 years has driven a commensurate surge in resource use and pollution!”

The draft platform document would allow a comprehensive approach to biodiversity and conservation

-rejects handing development approval powers to states and territories with any existing agreements in the area to be cancelled

-to properly resource recovery plans for threatened species while preventing land-clearing in critical habitat.

-to introduce a “land-clearing trigger” giving the federal government greater powers to intervene on development approvals

-it addresses issues including the plight of threatened species and the Murray-Darling Basin

TIME to save “industrial lands” for their original purpose and not to be repurposed for residential development!

High immigration is not sustainable!



Labor to propose new environmental laws to enforce biodiversity and conservation

Bill Shorten’s government would, if elected, create a national environment protection authority and a new environment act

Forest in Tasmania
 Labor’s proposals include a new environment act, a science-based EPA to oversee development decisions and a national environment commission to develop legally binding plans and standards for protection. Photograph: Rob Blakers/AAP


A Labor government would bring in new federal environment laws and strong independent agencies including a national environment protection authority (EPA) to enforce them, under a draft policy platform signed off by the ALP national executive.

Developed by a 60-member policy forum chaired by the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, and the outgoing party president, Mark Butler, the platform is the basis for debate at Labor’s national conference in Adelaide next month.

The central environmental proposals include a new environment act, a science-based EPA to oversee development decisions and a national environment commission to develop legally binding plans and standards for protection.

The platform document says the new laws and institutions would allow a comprehensive approach to biodiversity and conservation, replacing a regime that fails to protect the health of the environment.

“It will reflect Australians’ expectations that environmental protection is essential and ensure an effective and efficient national approach to the management of matters of national environmental significance,” it says.

While not everything in the platform is guaranteed to become legislation, the draft document is a significant win for the Labor environment action network (Lean), an internal advocacy group that has run a 15-month campaign for reforms to protect nature.

As revealed by Guardian Australia as part of the Our Wide Brown Land series, ALP branches from every state and territory backed a Lean motion calling for strong national environment laws and an independent agency akin to a “Reserve Bank for environmental management”. By January, 250 party branches had passed the motion. Lean says it has since increased to 456.

*The draft platform rejects handing development approval powers to states and territories, a Coalition push Labor has in the past supported. It says any existing agreements in the area would be cancelled.

It says Labor would protect the rights of civil society groups on environmental matters, make data underpinning decisions publicly available and work with the states to properly resource recovery plans for threatened species while preventing land-clearing in critical habitat. It would introduce a “land-clearing trigger” giving the federal government greater powers to intervene on development approvals.

Felicity Wade, Lean’s national convener, said the proposals recognised the environment was a legacy issue for Labor dating back to reforms introduced under Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke. She said they were driven by the party’s members.

Bill Shorten and Mark Butler, who chaired the policy forum
Bill Shorten and Mark Butler, who chaired the policy forum. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian

“Traditionally, the community cares about this stuff more than politicians so it is important that Bill Shorten is saying ‘this matters’,” she said. “People don’t like plastics choking the waterways, and they don’t like species going extinct and they don’t like that we’ve got bad quality air in a number of cities.”

Shorten’s office referred questions to the opposition environment spokesman, Tony Burke. Burke was not available to comment.

The draft platform addresses a number of environmental issues raised in the Our Wide Brown Land series, including the plight of threatened species and the Murray-Darling basin. It may face resistance at the ALP conference, particularly from union delegates concerned about the potential impact on industrial and other developments.

As written, it would likely mean an end to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act introduced by the Howard government in 1999, though some lines suggest keeping and changing it. The existing act was praised for gathering decision-making powers under the environment minister but has been criticised for going too far in giving the minister of the day discretion in how the law is applied.

Several environment and political campaigners told Guardian Australia they believed it was now harder to win environment protection decisions than at any point since before the recognition of landmarks including Kakadu, the Daintree rainforest and the Franklin river in the 1980s.

Along with the Lean push, these concerns have formed the basis for a campaign from about 40 environment groups working as the Places You Love Alliance.

The Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive, Kelly O’Shanassy, said the draft platform was heartening and necessary. She said threatened species habitat across an area larger than Tasmania had been destroyed since the current environments laws were brought in.

“We will be watching closely to see that these strong measures are embedded in the ALP’s final platform,” she said.

The Wilderness Society’s national campaigns director, Lyndon Schneiders, said: “Saying we’re creating a strong independent institution that would hold governments to account – that’s a powerful thing.”

The draft policy platform includes several statements related to climate change and energy with the goal of transforming the economy to reach net zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2050.





‘SCAM’: Developer to use parkland to offset koala habitat destruction

LENDLEASE with its major housing project 216-hectare Mt Gilead development on Sydney’s south-western fringe will remove koala habitat .. to get around this the developer has proposed using an existing council parkland to compensate for the destruction.

This has been labelled as a SCAM by the opposition with a mere 30 hectares of woodland remaining, and with the company permitted to offset vegetation removal by improving habitat on the adjoining Noorumba Reserve

IT appears “housing” at all costs seems to be the Department of Planning’s Motto koalas are also facing a 17,000-lot Walker’s residential development to engulf Wilton!





The South Creek West land release will more than double the LGA Population!

AS usual it does not stack up …. the Macarthur region has some of the worst infrastructure and almost zero public transport.

The Planning Minister talks of a mere 1,000 jobs how does that correlate with an additional 30,000 more homes to exceed the current 26,000 homes in Camden?

Begs the question who are the landowners? Is it Dahua, Poly Group, Chiwayland, Aqualand along with the local Mob from Urban Taskforce?

DOES the Planning Minister only have time for developers?


‘SCAM’: Developer to use parkland to offset koala habitat destruction

A major housing project on Sydney’s south-western fringe will remove koala habitat with the developer using an existing council parkland to compensate for the destruction.

Lendlease’s 216-hectare Gilead development will leave about 30 hectares of woodland, with the company permitted to offset vegetation removal by improving habitat on the adjoining Noorumba Reserve.

Koalas in Sydney's south-west are under threat from rising population in the region. This marsupial was photographed in St Helens Park.
Koalas in Sydney’s south-west are under threat from rising population in the region. This marsupial was photographed in St Helens Park.CREDIT:NICK MOIR


Conservationists, though, say the project will increase pressure on one of the state’s healthiest koala populations as colonies shrink statewide because of destruction of habitat and disease. Campbelltown City Council should be responsible for enhancing the reserve, they said.

“The Campbelltown koalas are a precious wild koala colony virtually on Sydney’s backdoor step,” Sharyn Cullis, secretary of the Georges River Environmental Alliance, said. “Their continued protection and welfare should be a matter of pride for the whole of Sydney.”


South-west Sydney’s koalas have low rates of chlamydia, a disease which is devastating colonies and leading to projections by WWF that the animal could be extinct in the wild in NSW by 2050.

‘Highest protection’


A spokeswoman for Lendlease said the proposed project would “feature the highest levels of habitat restoration and protection measures available”.

Rehabilitation work on the former grazing land would create more koala habitat on the site than currently exists, while such woodlands on the Noorumba Reserve will increase from 38 hectares to 45 hectares, she said.

Jim Baldwin, director of city development at the council, said the Office of Environment and Heritage had approved Noorumba as a biobank site under a 1995 act that allows council reserves to be protected “in perpetuity” to generate offsets.

In this case, such conservation balanced “the loss of areas identified as holding low habitat value,” he said.

Ms Cullis, though, said while the council may be acting legally to generate biobanking credits on its own land, it was “immoral and really rather bizarre” since there would be net habitat loss when the intent of such offsets was an “additionality” of protection.


Robert Close, an ecologist with Western Sydney University, said the woodlands were important for koalas and for other species, such as birds.

“We have only recently discovered apparently resident koalas west of Appin Road,” Associate Professor Close said.

“Based on Campbelltown data we could estimate one female per 10 hectares of suitable habitat,” he said.

A spokesman for the environment minister Gabrielle Upton said the planning proposal had been approved by Anthony Roberts, the planning minister, in September 2017.

The government was investing $44.5 million though the NSW Koala Strategy to secure the future of koalas in the wild, he said.

Cate Faehrmann, the Greens environment spokeswoman, said the offset agreement was “a complete scam”.

“The truth is that biodiversity offsetting is simply a smokescreen introduced by the Liberals to smooth the way for big developers and mining companies to trash our environment with impunity.”

Her Labor counterpart, Penny Sharpe, said the time to save the koalas of south-west Sydney “was running out”.

“Offsetting that does not add to the area that is protected for koalas is not offsetting – it is another nail in the coffin for these incredible native animals,” Ms Sharpe said, adding a Labor government if elected next March would create a koala national park in the region.

‘Residents won’t obey’

The Gilead project will include about 1700 homes, accommodating about 5000 people.

Even if Leadlease were able to improve the quality of remnant bushland, koalas would likely be forced elsewhere, Professor Close said.

“Theoretically, human settlement need not necessarily be fatal,” he said. “But the corridors would have to be intact, car speeds would have to be low, dogs would have to be small, tree plantings would have to be suitable – I doubt whether residents would obey.”

is Environment Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald. He covers broad environmental issues ranging from climate change to renewable energy for Fairfax Media.




FRENCHS FOREST: 2014: Endangered Vegetation now a Hospital Case!

FRENCHS FOREST where until July 2014 there was an already endangered woodland called Duffys Forest Ecological Community and a vital wildlife corridor of rich biodiversity to be BULLDOZED!

-some of the rarest vegetation on the face of planet Earth!

WHAT was behind this destruction?

AND the demise of both Manly and Mona Vale Public Hospitals … for a PRIVATE HOSPITAL!

IN Opposition the LNP released plans to turn French’s Forest into a major economic centre;  the hospital to be the catalyst.

NSW AUSTRALIA has not only lost this critical ecological community but FRENCHS FOREST having been rezoned its community has been SHAFTED … and the NORTHERN BEACHES Region has been shafted having been robbed of their Public Hospitals!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Endangered vegetation now a hospital case.

French Forest is a Sydney suburb 13 km from the CBD.  Much of the “Forest” has long been consumed by business parks, housing estates and bitumen but right next to busy Warringah road sits a unique remnant of rich biodiversity. This is the vital wildlife corridor that links Garigal National Park with Manly Dam Reserve and Narrabeen Lagoon catchment.

True to form, the NSW government has chosen this very land as the location for a brand new private hospital. It is on notice to be bulldozed, concreted and lost forever in the near future. The frustrating thing is that the high quality, existing Mona Vale and Manly hospitals nearby (one with extensive land to expand and upgrade) will also be sacrificed for this misconceived project.


The proposed hospital site (corner of Forest Way and Warringah Rd. Sydney) a remnant area of ancient bushland and a vital wildlife corridor


The bushland on the 6 hectare land parcel is not your average “scrub”. No, this is an unusual sub-segment of an already endangered type of woodland called  Duffys Forest Ecological Community (named after Peter Duffy who was the first man to purchase land in the area).

It is basically some of the rarest vegetation on the face of planet Earth (dominated by tree species that include Red Bloodwood, Silvertop Ash, Brown Stringy Bark and Angophora Costata) and is at real risk of extinction.

*The politicians (of most persuasions) don’t know, care or have any interest in this special element of our natural heritage. They are sadly blind and blinkered to the environmental values that make this part of the world so extraordinary. Their focus, as usual, is development and economic activity at any cost.  Because this project has been designated as being of “state significance”, most of the flimsy environmental restrictions that do exist are being overridden.

Just off a congested intersection, is this exquisite area of remnant bushland…all will be lost to the bulldozers.


If the hospital is built at this location, it will be curtains for endangered Powerful Owls, Swamp Wallabies,  Sugar gliders, Bandicoots and other rare wildlife that survives here against all the odds. Even Koalas and Tiger Quolls have been sighted in this area.



The Powerful Owl (Nonox Strenua), a threatened (vulnerable) fauna species listed under NSW legislation, has been recorded repeatedly at this site. (photo M Allen


So, yet more of Warringah’s natural environment seems destined to be consigned to the history books because of ignorant, misinformed or corrupted, planning decisions.

“Duffys Forest Endangered Ecological Community.” Already some of the rarest vegetation on Earth.


*As much as 70% of Australia’s native vegetation has been cleared or modified in the past 200 years.  There should be no excuse to destroy intact, endangered bushland when other, much more suitable, options are available.



Survey marks predict a bleak future for this high conservation value site.


Just down the road, residents fought a long but losing battle to save bushland in the Manly Dam catchment from the Ardel Housing development. Endangered listing for the Duffy’s Forest Ecological Community came just too late to stop the project proceeding .. but the one small consolation was that, supposedly, “it could never happen again!” Check out this website for the full story:- The fight to save Manly Dam Catchment


The community tries to save bushland at nearby Manly Dam in 1999 (photo M Allen)


The Police “Special Patrol Group” move in to remove protesters trying to save endangered “Duffys Forest” bushland at Manly Dam in 1999 (photo M Allen)


*Tragically even more “Duffys Forest” vegetation is earmarked for clearing when the planned widening of Mona Vale road takes place.

*Another segment could be compromised by the proposed Warringah Aquatic Centre expansion. Nearby at Bantry Bay, the Aboriginal Land Council has sold off sensitive land adjoining Garigal National Park for a housing estate and the National Parks and Wildlife Services has announced plans to clear bushland within the National Park itself for a contentious mountain bike track.

*Meanwhile, and somewhat ironically, Warringah Council has created a website called Duffys Forest Defenders where it states ” Some people don’t know much about Duffys Forest and can hurt it without understanding the consequences. if no-one helps, Duffys Forest may be lost forever.”

It goes on to say that there are many reasons to retain our bushland including ecological conservation for diverse flora and fauna; food,habitat and passageways for native animals; protecting threatened species; Aboriginal heritage values; education and scientific research; scenery, tourism and recreation; pollution reduction and as a division to urban sprawl.


Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea) an ancient feature of this fragile site.

*The hospital site lies within the electorate of NSW Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard.

When in opposition, he released plans to turn French’s Forest into a major economic centre,with a hospital being the catalyst for massive commercial growth.

The NSW Treasurer, Mike Baird, whose seat is in neighbouring Manly, has given full support to this chosen hospital site.

Incidentally, when the NSW government compulsorily acquired the land from the local government jurisdiction of Warringah Council in 2012, Council agreed to the transfer but with the proviso that the Duffy’s Forest Ecological Community be protected. It was also noted that “Health Infrastructure will still remain bound by State and Commonwealth environmental legislation”

However.. if the government has its way ….. the earth movers will soon be getting another outing and another magical wild place will be consigned to the history books.

In late Nov 2013 there was a protest rally on site. If you’d like to join the  group fighting to stop this destruction (whilst also attempting to save existing community hospitals) check out the H.E.A.L website. The short term imperative is that this application (5982) must be referred to a Planning Assessment Committee where the environmental concerns, plus a host of other issues, can be thoroughly examined.


Going, going ?…A spectacular Persoonia Pinifolia (Pine-leafed Geebung).


Mona Vale and Manly hospitals could be upgraded and expanded at a fraction of the cost of a new development and this site could be conserved and donated as a precious gift to future generations. Now there’s a healthy alternative!

Please sign a petition to stop this proposal here:Petition


it has been over 20 years since 1,700 senior scientists (including 104 Nobel Prize winners) signed a document called ‘World Scientist’s Warning to Humanity‘. The opening words are worth reading at length:

Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practises put at risk the future that we wish for human society … and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about.

We all know the rest of the story. The warning has not been heeded and as the 2005 Millennial Ecosystem Assessment stated, every single living system on the planet is in a state of decline and the rate of decline is increasing.

More info on the “extinction crisis”

Check out the following article on the proposed new private hospital and the NSW Nurses and Midwives Assoc plan to campaign against it. By Amy Corderoy, featured in the Sydney Morning Herald, 25.1.2014  SMH story


In July 2014 bulldozers moved in to clear the critically endangered vegetation. Witnesses say that ancient trees with hollows were knocked over and chipped with scant regard for arboreal wildlife. Representatives from Sydney Wildlife (who care for injured and orphaned native animals and birds) were barred from the site. Seed collectors, hoping to salvage some of the rare plant seeds for trans location were also denied access.


Bulldozing of this irreplaceable remnant of natural Sydney commenced in July 2014


Community members bear witness to the carnage.


(Jan 2016). Constructing massive new road networks around the new Northern Beaches Hospital facility now means that a further 6.1 hectares of the  (fast disappearing) “Duffys Forest Endangered Ecological Community” will be cleared. Full gloomy details are listed in this Biodiversity Assessment Report.
Footnote..if you could see the destruction and loss of vegetation today…you would weep.

Posted by Malcolm Fisher at 16:48  

Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest

Labels: Duffy’s Forest Endangered Ecological CommunityNorthern Beaches Hospital








Left Hanging … How they’re killing the KOALAS OF WILTON



-relentless semi trailer and car traffic barrelling through core koala habitat

-koalas are now facing a 17,000-lot residential development to engulf this rural area

-court transcripts indicate the contractor understood the clearing was in anticipation of a future land rezoning – six years before the DPE’s exhibition period in 2017

Walker Corporation’s proposed corridor leads into the Nepean Conservation Area, whose sandstone soils do not support koala feed trees

-Council Environmental Officer on viewing the Wilton Southeast zoning on the DPE website discovered that the only documents listed were the developer’s submissions

QUESTIONS  raised for the DOPE …

HOW can this rezoning go through before the biocertification process is complete, and without being assessed under the biodiversity conservation act?

WHY were the Walker zones rammed though with so many unresolved issues?

… Obviously they are happy to pay the fines because in the grand scheme of things it’s a pittance.




Sunday, 30th September 2018


Text: Mick Daley


Stand on busy Picton road at the bridge over Allens Creek, near Wilton NSW and you’ll get a picture of what a koala has to deal with to get to its feed trees. The relentless semi-trailer and car traffic barreling through this core koala habitat has resulted in at least twelve koala deaths over the past two years. But that’s nothing compared to what they’re facing when an anticipated 17,000-lot residential development engulfs this rural area.

The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) has designated this as the Wilton Priority Growth Area under its Western City District Plan. Just 80km south west of the Sydney CBD, it’s part of the NSW government’s vote-winning solution to the city’s congestion and housing problem. But it’s coming at a high cost.

The Department of Office Environment and Heritage (OEH), the Rural Fire Service (RFS), an independent scientist and the local Wollondilly Council have all weighed in against the existing proposal, saying it goes against long-standing scientific advice and ignores State planning laws. It also threatens the survival of the largest chlamydia-free koala population in NSW.

The DPE’s developer, the Sydney-based Walker Corporation has twice been successfully prosecuted for having illegally cleared areas of sensitive koala habitat, earning them the largest such fine in NSW history. That’s just one of a raft of irregularities that have plagued this controversial project.

Wollondilly Shire Council has lodged an appeal against the DPE in the Land and Environment Court, saying that the rezoning of land in the Wilton South East Precinct ignores scientific advice from the OEH.

Judith Hannan, the Wollondilly Shire Mayor, says Council is not against the development at Wilton. “We’re asking for the reversal of the rezoning, until we get a solid conservation plan sorted out. We feel like there’s a tidal wave coming at us and the koalas are sitting in the path of it.”

Hannan says that long term planning has been inadequate for such a large-scale development and there are insufficient jobs and infrastructure to support it. “There is no reliable public transport to the area, no provision for employment, no integrated health service. How many other things would you like? It’s a nightmare and we don’t have much ability to stop it.”

She says that the koala road-kill problem is at crisis-point. “Even during the last council meeting, someone sent us a live photo of a koala in Appin in the service station and that evening that koala was dead on the road. It was horrendous.”

Councillor Matthew Deeth goes a step further.

“It beggars belief how the planning department makes these decisions. There’s no transparency at all and there’s no response to any of the concerns that council has raised,” he says. “I can’t point to any letters or anything to show they’ve even considered any of our concerns.”

Council’s environmental education officer, Damion Stirling has been at the coal-face of this issue.

“What triggered this for us was the southeast Wilton rezoning (from rural to residential),” he says. “We weren’t informed (by DPE) when that rezoning dropped, we found out through social media. They’ve (DPE) made reference that council had been consulted, but any submissions made were not adopted.

“They even reference measures to minimizing the impact on koalas, but they’re words on the page and we haven’t seen that detail.”

Stirling showed me the roadkill hotspot at Allen’s Creek, in the southeast tip of the proposed development. He says the creek constitutes part of an east-west running corridor that is vital to the survival of these koalas.

This was identified as far back as 2005 as a likely primary koala corridor by Professor Rob Close of the University of Western Sydney, with sightings going back into the Nineties.

The Wilton area was officially recognised as a primary koala corridor in 2007, by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW), the precursor of the OEH.


An OEH spokesperson has confirmed that core koala habitat and primary movement corridors have been identified within this region.

In mid-2016 a pilot study between Appin and Wilton found eight koalas in a week. That was enough information for OEH to fund the Wilton Koala Conservation Project, granted $200,000 from the Saving Our Species fund – the second highest funded project in the state. It’s tracked koalas through the area, specifically along Allen’s Creek, which features a good selection of koala feed trees.

Cate Ryan, a long-time WIRES carer, knows the inevitability of koalas seeking food or mates in the vicinity of Picton Road.

“They’re trying to disperse to other areas and they’re becoming roadkill. The issue with all the koalas is if they become landlocked they’ve got no escape. There’s no feed for them, so they’re coming out onto the roads and they’re getting killed. If they’ve got no underpasses or overpasses they can’t get to other breeding stock, so they become genetically compromised, because they start inbreeding. We’ve already noticed some conditions – smaller koalas, smaller eyes and irregular eye shapes.

“There’s no food out there and what’s up here is dying because of the drought. It’s horrible. I’d hate to be a koala.”

Ryan says the biggest fear is that chlamydia-infected koalas from colonies to the south may move towards Wilton for the same reasons, compromising the health of the local koalas.

“Because these guys here are disease free, they could be used in breeding programs as stock to repopulate areas where they’ve been decimated by disease. There’s a whole lot of things we can look at for the future with these guys, but unless they’re protected, there’s nothing.”

Underneath the highway bridge at Allen’s Creek, Stirling points out a huge culvert that would provide safe access for wandering males and breeding females with back-young, searching for the increasingly rare food trees they need to survive.

“It’s one thing to protect koalas from road kill, but we need to be feeding them into quality habitat corridors that will enable their dispersal,” he said.

“This creek line corridor links all the way down to the Nepean on the other side of Douglas Park. At the northern end of it is the St Mary’s Towers biobank site. There’s breeding females with back-young on there as we speak, identified by OE&H.”

Stirling observes how easily this infrastructure could be adapted to a koala corridor. “Down here you can see the scats and footprints of kangaroos and stuff, so it’s already being used by fauna.

“From Roads and Maritime Services’s point of view, this is an easy win. Even that concrete barrier on the bridge up there is enough to stop a koala trying to cross the road.”


But the development planned by DPE favours a corridor bisecting 23 hectares of land, illegally cleared by the Walker Corporation in 2005. According to Land and Environment Court transcripts they were fined $200,000 for that transgression, at that time one of the largest fines for illegal clearing of vegetation in NSW.

In 2011 Walker were fined an additional $80,000 for illegal clearing at Appin, where their current rezoning proposal is.

Court transcripts indicate that DPE used the same land clearing contractor for both jobs and that the contractor understood the clearing was in anticipation of a future land rezoning – six years before the DPE’s exhibition period in 2017.

Councillor Deeth points out that Walker Corporation’s proposed corridor leads into the Nepean Conservation Area, whose sandstone soils do not support koala feed trees. He says Council is privy to the process followed by OEH, who warned against the DPE proposal.

“They gave advice to the DPE that the Allen’s Creek corridor was the best option for the koalas. The DPE has ignored their advice and instead hired an outside team of consultants to give them another result, an act which I believe is unprecedented in this field.

The OEH is supposed to provide the environmental data and advice to the DPE, to be incorporated into the overall planning. But the OEH has been reduced from a department in its own right to an office advising the DPE and even this status appears to have been sidelined.”

The DPE not only ignored their own environmental office’s advice, but appear to be flouting State Environmental Planning Proposal 44 (SEPP 44). Under that law the DPE is obliged to do a site-specific koala plan and the rezoning of the land should not have happened until a biocertification and vegetation mapping process had been completed.

The reason this has not been completed involves a Kafka-esque bureaucratic turn that belongs in the realm of fiction.

When the state government’s new Biodiversity Act came into force on 24 August last year, Wollondilly Council received a phone call from DPE, telling them its growth area was exempt from the Act for a further 12 months – until the biocertification process was completed.

“We were told the biocertification process would be completed by Feb 2018, then it was June, but it still hasn’t been completed,” said Stirling. “We’ve now been told that the Act won’t come into force until November, 18 months later.”

While the DPE’s rezoning ignores SEPP 44, it also sidelines advice from the Rural Fire Service that the bushland southeast of the proposed development is a major fire risk and would require an exit road bisecting the DPE’s proposed koala corridor.

If the reader were to fancy that the DPE has not been taking this process seriously, they should consider that in January 2018, Wollondilly Council received a draft Development Control Plan (DCP) from DPE. Rather than sending a new document, specifically designed to reflect the area’s ecological sensitivities, they instead sent a tracked changes version of Blacktown Growth Area’s DCP. On the last page was a single picture and two sentences about koalas.

Apart from this slapdash approach, Stirling claims DPE’s process ignores four key recommendations of the NSW chief scientist’s 2016 report – a crucial direction being that the proponents of development must act on evidence.

Indeed, Stirling observes that when he recently looked for submissions over the Wilton Southeast zoning on the DPE website, he discovered that the only documents listed were the developer’s submissions.

“So Council are now GIPAA-ing (Government Information Public Access Act) for those reports and all other submissions around koala habitat that were part of this rezoning.”

Stirling says that even the week before the rezoning, he’d been at a round table meeting called by the DPE to discuss conserving koalas in the region.

“There was no mention that the land around Allen’s Creek was going to be rezoned the following week.”

Stirling has a lot of unanswered questions for the DPE.

“We’re questioning how can this rezoning go through before the biocertification process is complete, and without being assessed under the biodiversity conservation act?

“Why have the DPE proceeded in rezoning this land before that work is finished, on such a significant project?

“Why was that project not profiled in the NSW Koala Strategy, considering it was one of the largest koala funded projects in the state?”

“We’re saying the DPE plan is not appropriate,” he concludes. “It doesn’t even consider that koalas move through the canopies of trees. How are they going to fence the middle of that bushland there to stop the koalas?

“We have to work out what the transition is between protected koala habitat and urban areas. We’ve already got a number of threats – eight koalas killed in eight weeks on Appin Rd, last year 14 koalas killed in two months, so that’s the major threat at the moment. The next threat is development wiping out habitat, then dog attack, fires, weed invasion, so we’re trying to get ahead of the game and say, ok we know where the habitat is, let’s protect it now. We have the knowledge to do best practice, let’s do it, let’s find a balance between conservation and development for housing.”

Councillor Deeth, too, has searching questions.

“I understand that OEH scientists were being pressured from above to tone down their reports to the DPE,” he said.

“Council had an extraordinary meeting a couple of months ago. Our resolution was to GIPAA the government to get the exact communications, exactly what advice was given and what was the response from the DPE around that issue. My understanding was there was real pressure coming from much higher up the chain and we want to understand how their decisions were made.

“Housing at all costs seems to be the department of planning’s motto at the moment. We don’t even know what sort of density we’re looking at within these zones. All we’re suggesting is we want a pause to get this right. There’s nothing wrong with taking a bit more time to actually get it right. You can see from every provision there’s a heap of unresolved issues.

“We have no idea why the Walker zones were rammed though with so many unresolved issues. They’re happy to pay the fines because in the grand scheme of things it’s a pittance.

“We have very little say in this whatsoever. The only thing we’ve got left is advocacy and letting people know what we’re not happy about.”



WILTON … 80 Km COMMUTE from CBD to become Sydney’s south-western fringe by 2050 with 15,000 homes to be built


SATURDAY 29 SEPTEMBER Planning Minister Anthony Roberts announced a greenfield development site in WILTON that will deliver up to 15,000 homes and 15,000 jobs in the next 30 years in what’s being labelled Sydney’s new south-west 80 Kms from Sydney CBD!




-under the deal developers will pay up to $770 million to deliver state infrastructure

.including roads, land for a bus depot, local schools, a medical facility, open space and environmental conservation measures

-the levy will cost developers about $59,274 per dwelling; triple what they pay north-west of Sydney


-4000-square-hectare site; part of more than 20 growth areas earmarked for Sydney

PLANNING MINISTER ROBERTS talks up conservation with more than 160 hectares … that’s 395.36861 acres of Cumberland Plain Woodland already protected in the South East Wilton Precinct to allow for Koala movements …

Mr Roberts, that’s piffling – it’s three fifths of nothing compared to the former 4000 square hectare habitat they had!




Wilton town centre

Wilton to become Sydney’s south-western fringe by 2050 with 15,000 homes to be built





Six-year-olds Ashton Galletta and Moana Nikua planting trees at Timbrell Park in Five Dock. Picture: Jonathan Ng


FOLLOWING the announcement of 5 million trees to be replanted across NSW, a mere 15,000 will be allocated for the front and rear yards of the 200M2 X 6M Greenfield Housing Code lots. Allowing for 76% of the lot size to be developed!

PERHAPS the saplings ought be planted as street trees?

HAS the Minister contemplated the growth of tree roots? The need to accommodate a garage or shed?

HOW can 5 million saplings make up for the loss of thousands upon thousands of mature trees in Beecroft Cheltenham (ETTT); Centennial Park Randwick for the light rail; the trees in the path of Westconnex and Northconnex; thousands of hectares of housing sites across Sydney denuded of all vegetation?

WILL there be compensation for those who have had ugly redevelopment – out of character – imposed upon them before the fact of “good design”? Together with the loss of amenity and market value of their properties?

IS the Minister alluding to the HSR of CLARA with the LNP having squashed the superior BZE for this with a price tag of $75B and Asian investment?

IT now appears that in order to address affordable housing the NSW Government is committed to affordable rental housing for Australians to further boost the development opportunities for developers by streamlining approvals as developers continue to market new homes 100% overseas …

The GSC proposes a mere 5 – 10 percent of affordable rental housing target …. what the? Is this credible?


Branko Miletic

In an exclusive interview with Architecture & Design, NSW planning minister Anthony Roberts gives us an insight into how he juggles his every growing list of signature capital projects.

Do you think we are sacrificing good design over speed and cost of build?

Good design is essential for the future of planning in NSW. But so is speeding up the bottlenecks in our planning system.

That’s why we have intertwined good planning and reducing wait times in a number of recent announcements.

I recently announced the introduction of the State Design Review Panel (SDRP) pilot program, ensuring good design will be front and centre for all new State Significant Developments (SSD).

The panel will work with the Government Architect NSW to review and consider key elements of the assessment process such as local character and design excellence.

The State Design Review Panel pilot program will provide expert advice on the most significant developments in the state and will help ensure better design and planning outcomes for NSW.

Having a diverse group of expert and experienced voices guiding the decisions of the Department will not only ensure that we continue to have a strong assessment process, but also ensure the community has an even greater say on the future direction of planning and design.

NSW is already leading the country in innovative design and planning, with state-wide polices such as Better Places and Greener Places showing we’re planning not just for today, but tomorrow as well.

What is the signature piece of infrastructure that you would like to be remembered for?

I want my legacy to be the greening of Sydney and other parts of NSW. This is a passion with me and as planning minister, together with the premier, I have taken concrete steps to ensure this legacy.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and I recently launched the Five Million Trees for Greater Sydney Initiative and tree.

These initiatives are a great win for the people of Sydney. This partnership program between local and state government and the community will more than double the tree canopy from 16.8 percent to 40 percent by 2030 in areas where it’s needed most.

And to kick things off, we will be giving away 15,000 trees over three years to homeowners who have a fast track complying development approval for a new home in new land release areas in Western Sydney, as part of a new Greenfield Housing Code which requires a tree to be planted in both front and back yards.

This will be supported with $37.5 million of government funding over four years that will assist with the establishment of tree canopy cover.

Green open space is a fundamental element of planning for future communities. A planned network of parks, rivers, bushland and street trees supports a good quality of life in an urban environment and is as crucial to cities as transport, road upgrades, schools and health facilities.

Pretend your department had access to unlimited funds – what would you build in NSW first and why?

I would love to build a fast train connecting Sydney Canberra and Melbourne. This has been spoken about for ever and if it was built, imagine how many decades.

The idea of connecting Australia’s major cities by very fast trains is exciting and has great benefits for the nation and its citizens.

With an explosion of population expected in Sydney and Melbourne in particular, one of the factors that can alleviate the problems associated with population growth are high-speed trains, which, as the Australian Financial Review’s Brian Toohey wrote, “ make it more attractive to live in new population centres and still be in easy reach of Sydney or Melbourne and later Brisbane”.

I would also love to develop a major transport corridor to the Central West of NSW by tunnelling through the Great Dividing Range.

In terms of sustainability, what are some of the sustainability strategies your department is applying to new builds?

Building a sustainable Sydney is a key focus of the Department of the Planning and Environment.

The NSW government recently introduced a new Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) energy targets, part of the government’s initiative to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

These changes will improve the energy efficiency of homes in NSW, resulting in lower utility bills for residents, and lessen impact on the environment.

Part of the Development Application (DA) process for homes in NSW, BASIX ensures proposed designs are sustainable. Currently, homes use approximately 17 percent of the state’s total energy consumption. With 1.8 million new homes expected to be built over the next 40 years, it’s important these are designed in a way that maximises energy efficiency.

Energy targets for houses and low-rise units will increase by approximately 10 percent, and by 5 percent for mid and high-rise units. Thermal comfort heating and cooling settings will also change.

How much green space do you think Sydney needs, and is this a priority for your dep’t?

Securing green spaces is key to make Sydney a liveable city.

That’s why communities will have access to more open spaces and playgrounds, as part of a $290 million funding injection from the government to make NSW communities more liveable and green.

The NSW government has committed $100 million to secure strategic open green space while also setting aside an extra $20 million to build more than 200 new or upgraded playgrounds that are more inclusive and engaging.

Having access to green open space is crucial in making communities thriving and enjoyable places to live.

We are committed to not only creating the jobs and infrastructure our communities need, but also the vital open and green spaces so that families can have the best quality of life.

But that’s only part of the picture.

Currently, Sydney’s urban canopy coverage is about 16 percent. The government is committed to reaching 40 percent urban tree canopy cover.

We recently launched the 5 Million Tree program, which will see over 380,000 trees every year for the next 13 years.

As well as giving away 15,000 trees to new homes in greenfield developments, a program will be established that will bolster existing council tree planting programs, as well as supporting community and school tree planting programs.

We’ve also released a Greenfield Housing Code will speed up the delivery of new homes in new land release (greenfield) areas will meet the needs of NSW’s growing population and deliver faster approvals for new homes.

The Greenfield Housing Code will reduce the average time taken to approve new houses in new release areas.

Is affordable housing a main focus for the NSW gov’t, and if so, can you give examples.

The government is committed to facilitating affordable rental housing, and supply to address affordability in the wider housing market.

To help increase the supply of this type of housing we are currently reviewing a number of housing state policies to improve their effectiveness, and to create a modern and easy to use planning system that supports streamlined approvals.

This includes examining ways to help increase housing diversity and affordable housing across the state.

The draft District Plans prepared by the GSC propose a 5-10 percent affordable rental housing target, subject to viability, in areas subject to up-zoning.

The GSC is working across government and industry to determine the most appropriate and effective approach to delivering on this target while also accounting for local character

Any targets for inclusionary zoning proposals must consider the potential impact on delivering the development on which it relies.