PO Box 4134 Werrington NSW 2747
E-mail: info wsca.org.au (insert @ after info)
0431 222602



Western Sydney's bushland is under siege

Our politicians and their bureaucrats, dancing to the tune of big business, are doing their utmost to drive development in Western Sydney and this is rapidly pushing our Natural Heritage to the point of no return. We all claim to love Australia and to care for the environment but look what we are letting happen. It is now time to collectively stop the rampant over population, development and destruction of our natural and built environments.

Through this website we will endeavour to explain what the threats are, who is responsible and what we can do to stop it.

The big issues for the Western Sydney Conservaton Alliance Inc (WSCA)

  1. The incremental loss of bushland to development

  2. The creation of the Cumberland Conservation Corridor (CCC)

  3. The protection of the NSW Dept of Environment Climate Change and Water (DECCW) identified Western Sydney Priority Conservation Lands

  4. The implementation by DECCW of an effective Recovery Plan for the Cumberland Plain

  5. Penrith Councils flawed draft Local Environmental Plan (LEP) that zones Priority Conservation Lands for development and undermines the CP Recovery Plan

  6. The RTA's proposed Castlereagh Freeway that rips through the CCC and Priority Conservation Lands

WSCA has been lobbying all levels of Government over several years to assist in the creation of the CCC across large areas of Western Sydney. The CCC is idealistic but at the same realistic as it is very similar to the mapping by DECCW who have identified the same lands as Priority Conservation Lands. WSCA believes that we must give our native flora and fauna every chance at survival and that is best achieved if our bushland areas connect to one another.

The DECCW identified Priority Conservation Lands that are necessary to form the CCC are under imminent threat from planning decisions by the NSW Government's Dept of Planning (DoP) and Local Councils, such as Penrith Council. DoP have directed all Councils in NSW to develop new Local Environmental Plans (LEP) based on a new standardised LEP template. Penrith Councils new LEP afforded them the opportunity to protect the DECCW Priority Conservation Lands but they have failed to rise to the challenge. Their flawed draft LEP allows rural zonings (RU4) across 504 hectares of the Priority Lands owned by the Deerubbin Aboriginal Land Council. WSCA argued in submissions to Penrith Council that their new LEP should zone all DECCW mapped Priority Lands as E2 Environmental Conservation. We told them that they needed to play their role in ensuring the Recovery of the Cumberland Plain vegetation communities. The Deerubbin have claimed from the Crown 1800 hectares of bushland that DECCW have mapped as Priority Conservation Lands. 1296 hectares of the Deerubbin land was proposed to be zoned E2 by Council but the Deerubbin objected and now DoP, DECCW and Council have decided to review that zoning and it appears likely the E2 zone will be watered down further to reinstate development rights for the Deerubbin over even more of the Priority Conservation Lands. Council is doing its LEP in 2 stages. The 504 ha is in stage 1 and has been endorsed by Penrith Councillors which means it can now go to Tony Kelly , the NSW Planning Minister, for final approval. The decision on the 1296 ha of the Deerubbin Land has been deferred by Council until stage 2 (2010).

Tony Kelly, the new NSW Planning Minister, is now the last hope to save the 504 ha of Priority Conservation Lands. He must reject Penrith Council's flawed draft Local Environmental Plan. Penrith Councils LEP proposes that 504 hectares of Priority Conservation Lands be zoned RU4 which is a rural zoning allowing 2 hectare subdivision. No matter what spin Penrith Council puts on the RU4 zone the fact is that once it is carved up into 5 acre blocks and people start to develop those blocks the flora and fauna of those areas will be decimated and lost forever. Council's draft LEP simply fails to protect high conservation value bushland and if left unamended will result in the further fragmentation and degradation of the last great bushland remnants of the Cumberland Plain. Which is the very reasons stated by DECCW for the need for a Cumberland Plain Recovery Plan.

What are Priority Conservation Lands?

DECCW has studied the bushland of the Cumberland Plain and determined that their conservation efforts and resources should be spent protecting the last great remnants of bushland. They have tagged these last great remnants, Priority Conservation Lands. DECCW has recently exhibited a draft Cumberland Plain Recovery Plan and they have stated that the success of the Recovery Plan will depend on protecting the Priority Conservation Lands. The Recovery Plan suggests several methods to protect the Priority Conservation Lands. One such method involves Planning Authorities, such as Councils, protecting the Priority Lands, areas of high conservation value, through zonings that restrict development outcomes.

Why must the NSW Government ensure the protection of the Priority Conservation Lands?

The NSW Government has committed to protecting the Priority Conservation Lands in several policy documents. A few years back they allowed the development of the Sydney Growth Centres to proceed. This meant the clearing of large areas of endangered bushland in those growth centres. The NSW Government conferred Biodiversity Certification to those areas. Conditions attached to the Biodiversity Certification stated that the government would offset the loss of the bushland in the growth centres by collecting a $530 million conservation fund and use those funds to protect the Western Sydney Priority Conservation Lands. DECCW is to manage the $530 million fund, which will be collected over time as development occurs within the growth centres and use it to secure the Priority Conservation Lands.

The draft Cumberland Plain Recovery Plain by DECCW also commits the NSW Government to protecting the Priority Conservation Lands. The NSW Government will look like hypocrites if they fail to use their powers to stop threats to the protection of the Priority Conservation Lands, such as the RU4 zonings proposed by Penrith Councils draft LEP.

Tony Kelly must reject and amend Penrith Councils LEP to ensure all the Priority Conservation Lands in the Penrith LGA, land consisting of endangered ecological communities and vast numbers of endangered species, are zoned E2 Environmental Conservation.