Draft City Plan 2015 could devastate Redlands koalas

Redland City koala

Redland City’s koalas need better protection in the new City Plan

Koala habitat protection would be substantially weakened if the Draft City Plan is approved.

The Council’s proposed Redland City Plan 2015 would remove vegetation protection from lots less than 2,000m2 (half acre) in the urban parts of Redland City where many koalas live.

In the city’s rural areas, nearly 400 hectares could potentially be cleared if property owners choose to use the provision proposed in the Draft Plan to allow as of right clearing of 2,500m2.

Protection of koalas and their habitat was a high priority in the Redland City Community Plan developed in 2010 by more than 3,000 community members, business people and local organisations. It is also a key requirement of the State Planning Policy.

In preparing its Draft City Plan 2015, the Council has failed to take these important requirements into account.

Key concerns for koalas

The Draft City Plan threatens koalas in many ways:

  • Increasing development in-fill (by small block subdivision) of the northern urban areas
  • Expanding small lot housing developments in Victoria Point between Bunker Road and Double Jump Road
  • Removing protection for koala habitat trees on urban blocks less than 2,000m2 (half acre)
  • Allowing rural landowners to clear up to 2,500 m2 per property
  • Allowing further investigation of urban development in Thornlands and southern Redlands
  • Removing ‘environmental protection’ and ‘conservation’ zoning from some private properties in Sheldon and Mount Cotton
  • Rezoning ‘surplus’ Council land for development, including some purchased with the rate payers environment levy

Draft City Plan makes tree clearing so easy

Koala on Stump

Koala appears confused by the sudden loss of a mature eucalyptus tree

The Draft Redland City Plan would give no tree protection in our urban areas on lots less than 2,000m2 ( ½ acre). Most of the city’s urban area fall into this category.

In the ‘Rural’ zone (Sheldon, Mt Cotton), the Draft Redland City Plan allows clearing up to 2,500m2 of bush per property. This equates to up to 3,750,000m2 or nearly 400 hectares which could be cleared without permits if the Draft City Plan is approved.

There are no controls on where and how clearing occurs (or even how it is measured. It would be left up to each property owner’s discretion. This is likely to lead to uncontrolled clearing of endangered plants and ecosystems, habitat trees important for threatened wildlife and clearing up to our sensitive waterways. For example, a typical 2.5 acre (10,000m2) property in Sheldon that already has cleared areas for the house, garage, driveway etc. can clear a further 2500m2 anywhere on the property and it can be in increments of any amount as long as it doesn’t exceed 2,500m2. This means that most vegetation on these smaller acreage lots can be removed with no permit and for no reason under the Draft City Plan.

It is proposed in the ‘Rural’ zone, to allow clearing for rural uses such as intensive horticulture, aquaculture, tourist parks and bulk landscape supplies all without public notification. No Council approval is needed at all for cropping, animal husbandry and animal keeping (except for kennels and catteries).

This is clearly open to abuse. The Draft Redland City Plan must include provisions that discern whether clearing is being done for genuine rural purposes.

City Plan must work with more effective local laws

Koala in an urban area - Passage Street Cleveland

Koala in an urban area – Passage Street Cleveland

The Draft City Plan’s tree clearing exemptions and removal of tree protection in our urban areas will have a significant impact on the City’s environmental values, koalas, visual amenity and water quality. It is not in line with community expectations.

Having a strong, prescriptive Local Law for tree protection integrated into the City Plan is the most effective and responsible way to protect the environment. This approach has been adopted by Brisbane City Council.

Local Law 6 – Protection of Vegetation must be integrated into City Plan 2015 and remain the mechanism for vegetation protection throughout the entire City. Clearing associated with developments should be assessed when a development application is lodged.

Conservation zone changes

The ‘Conservation’ zoning has been completely removed from the Draft City Plan except for larger Council-owned Conservation Reserves. Under the present Planning Scheme the ‘Conservation’ zone applies in areas across the entire city, including private properties and protects our most important and sensitive environmental areas.

The Draft City Plan allows clearing up to 2,500m on those properties presently in ‘Conservation’ zone and allows rural uses in the new ‘Rural’ zoning. Clearing can take place anywhere on properties including along waterways and can include significant and old growth habitat. Additionally, no development application is required for the building of any dwellings or for agricultural and grazing uses.

Future investigation areas

The State Government has directed Council to remove the ‘Shoreline’ Redland Bay development area from the urban footprint of the draft City Plan,but the area is now earmarked as a ‘future urban growth investigation area’.

‘Shoreline’ would see 4,000 dwellings and potentially hundreds of koala food trees destroyed; 6,000 more vehicles travelling through the Koala Coast and an estimated 2,000 additional domestic dogs.

The SEQ Regional Plan 2009-2031 defines the land use intent of the development area as Regional Landscape and Rural Production – not residential. The City Plan should support the current Regional Plan.

Another area the State has allowed to be designated as ‘future urban growth investigation area’ includes a huge swathe of land in Thornlands bounded by Springacre Rd, Taylor Rd and Woodlands Drive.

Further information

All the facts in this post have been ascertained from the Draft City Plan and been confirmed by questions to the Redland City Planners.

More information about the Draft City Plan is available on the following websites:

Make a submission

A young koala

Small koalas need big trees

The only way these damaging provisions can be changed is for the Redlands community to make submissions to the Draft City Plan 2015. Closing date for submissions is 27 November 2015.

Submissions can be made on-line by using the electronic submission form or emailing to rcc@redland.qld.gov.au (name* and address* are mandatory).

Submission can also be lodged in person at Council’s Customer Service Centre at Cleveland or Capalaba or mailed to Chief Executive Officer, Attention: Draft Redland City Plan 2015, Redland City Council, PO Box 21, Cleveland Qld 4163.

Please take a few minutes to make a submission. You can include the following facts and circumstances to support your submission.

Save our koalas

Please do not approve the Draft City Plan 2015 in its current form because it fails to care for our natural environment and especially our koalas. The following matters should be attended to in the preparation of a revised or new city plan:

  • The City Plan should not rezone any areas for urban development because the city already has enough urban land to accommodate the number of dwellings to house its projected population to 2041.
  • In particular, the 16 blocks of land which the Council has identified as “surplus’ land should not be rezoned for development and instead should be kept as valuable greenspace for a growing population.
  • The provisions which allow unlimited tree clearing on urban blocks less than 2,000m2 should be removed.
  • The provisions which allow unlimited clearing of up to 2,500m2 on rural properties should be removed.
  • The current Local Law.6 – Protection of Vegetation must be integrated into the new City Plan.
  • The ‘environmental management’ and ‘conservation’ zones on private properties should be re-instated and restrictions to vegetation clearing that currently apply should remain in place.
  • The ‘future urban growth investigation areas’ earmarked for Thornlands and southern Redlands should be removed as there is already enough land zoned/designated to accommodate the projected population growth up to 2041.

Debbie Pointing

President of the Koala Action Group

Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email thereporter@redlands2030.net

3 thoughts on “Draft City Plan 2015 could devastate Redlands koalas

  1. I see it is too late to make a submission now… was the draft approved? Ludicrous if so!!!

  2. while other jurisdictions around Australia, including our neighbours in SEQ, are buying back and consolidating vegetation habitats and corridors, RCC is doing its best to cut down any tree that stands in the way of (good, bad or indifferent) development. The relaxing or deletion of the environmental protection measures in the draft Plan will kill off our green Redlands and the koala. We need to forget the koala (that’s so passe) and design a new logo – fun parks in the Marine Park ? that’ll bring in the tourists ! And there will be apartment towers right near by !

  3. This is the balancing act I referred to previously. By properly revegetating unviable primary production land and rexoning into semi – rural residential properties some compensatory koala measures are taken so all parties win. Under the Local Government Act, Council is obliged to do this for the short and long term interests of its residents (including koalas). Scaremongering does not assist, but positive recommendations can help everyone and assist us going forward as a vibrant community.

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