ABSTRACT SUMMARIES

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Sylvia Hale, Greens MLC

We are currently experiencing record-breaking drought in NSW, in the context of the growing threat of climate change. Thus it has never been more important to conserve both energy and water.

More environmentally-sustainable housing is good for both the environment and individual householders, and measures taken by individual householders can make a difference.

BASIX, introduced in July 2005, is the main tool to address improved household sustainability. This initiative was designed to reduce energy consumption in new residential homes by 25 per cent and water consumption by 40 per cent, and at the time was applauded as a move to rein in new residential subdivisions, wherein most houses had been designed with little regard for efficient energy or water consumption.

But there are now increasingly available both new technologies and products to make our housing more economically affordable and environmentally sustainable. And while there might be an initial high cost for the construction, this has to be seen against lower ongoing costs into the future for maintenance.

Yet, now, BASIX is under attack. The property industry has lobbied hard to have BASIX weakened or replaced with a voluntary system. Arguing that the scheme increases the upfront costs of new homes, the industry has appealed to the Premier's stated concerns that one of his main priorities is making housing affordable. And the Premier has failed to reaffirm his commitment to upgrading BASIX, as had previously been promised, but which is now ‘under review’.

This downgrading of such a critical commitment is just unacceptable, and is a cause for growing concern.


Arthur Rorris, South Coast Labour Council

Arthur Rorris will be presenting the ‘Big Picture’ Transport and Infrustructure Issues in Our Region


The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same, Stuck Between the Escarpment and the Ocean.

Mark Fleming, President Coastwatchers Association Inc and
Regional Facilitator Total Environment Centre, Illawarra/South Coast


In 1962 Mr Ashton, Chief Town Planner, Local Government Department told Eurobodalla Shire Council “that a planning scheme to protect the shire’s foreshores was imperative.”

He said. “The rights of those to come should not be jeopardised for an immediate profit for those in the present.”

I wonder where he is now.

These words are similar to those that we hear from the current Department of Planning.

This presentation will examine the effects that lobbying by the development industry has had on planning legislation over the past 15 years and provide insight into the strategic directions of the NSW Department of Planning for the South Coast and Illawarra Regions.

I will present the future directions and challenges for settlement in the Illawarra over the next 25 years as well as the possible environmental implications of decisions taken at all levels of Government.

Furthermore I will ask the questions. Where to for the Illawarra after 2031 and should there be a cap on the population of the area?


Review of Kiama’s current LEP and preparation of locality based DCPs and relevance to regional strategies

Howard Jones, GREENS Deputy Mayor of Kiama Council

Kiama Council has been involved in a fascinating process of community consultation during the review of its current LEP and preparation of locality based DCPs

Discussions with people in Wollongong would suggest that our process is the antithesis of what has been happening there.

Such a presentation would also raise significant issues for Illawarra Planning particularly in the period leading up to the release of a draft Illawarra Regional Strategy from the Dept of Planning.


Sustainability and WCC Planning Decisions

Dr Lynda Kriflik and Dr George Kriflik, Graduate Attributes Lecturer
Learning Development (Mon, Tues, Wed), University of Wollongong


Sustainability and WCC Planning Decisions Wollongong City Council (WCC) promotes itself as an organisation that supports sustainable development. This paper briefly reviews the meaning of sustainability and then explores the extent to which WCC planning decisions adhere to principles of sustainability. Reference is made to a range of local examples and it becomes apparent from these that there is inconsistency in the application of the principles and little commitment to the enforcement of important sustainability principles. The examples are drawn from the building and development process, stormwater management, transport and safety areas, and these highlight the impact of flawed decision processes. A key impediment to the implementation of quality decisions is WCC’s failure to acknowledge and incorporate the values expressed by existing communities. Given the sensitivity of the coastal environment and the escarpment to human impact it is imperative that the true spirit of sustainable communities be implemented within the Illawarra’s special landscape. This will require a rethink of planning processes and perhaps the adoption of some difficult strategic policies, including population caps, protection of existing remnant green spaces, and even resource taxing to the curb the oversize ‘footprint’ of excess development. The commercialisation of community lifestyles does not align with sustainability and yet this economic emphasis would appear to be the primary focus of WCC.


Designing Deliberation: the importance of providing an integrated program of consultation and education for water recycling initiatives

Greg Hampton, Stewart Russell, Colleen Lux, Associate Research Fellow, Oz-AQUAREC School of Social Sciences, Media and Communications, University of Wollongong

Keywords: water recycling, public understanding, focus groups, participatory planning Recent planning for many large-scale water management schemes in Australia, such as the proposed desalination plant for Sydney and the indirect potable recycling scheme for Toowoomba, has been fraught with contentious polarization of views between those for and against the proposals. Despite the heightened public interest, awareness and passion evident in such debates about future water provision, there have been unfortunately few opportunities for meaningful public education, deliberation and participation in decision-making. Our recent research has focused on designing methods that incorporate deliberative strategies into community education and consultation programs specifically for water recycling schemes. We conducted focus groups with four communities on the east coast of Australia, each with different experiences with water recycling. Our approach integrates, in a sequence of meetings, information provision with opportunities to discuss and develop an understanding of recycling and issues around it. We experimented with providing participants with information and opportunities to discuss and question, with the agenda and framing determined as much by the participants as by our view or water authorities’ view of what was relevant. The focus was as far as possible on specific local schemes, actual or hypothetical. Further, we have tried to go beyond the usual outcomes of marketing-type focus groups – cataloguing issues and summarising views. Using ideas from discourse analysis, we have paid careful attention to participants’ language to examine the way they express their responses, their underlying concerns and values, how they process information and arguments, and how their views develop through interaction. This presentation highlights insights derived in this way: not so much about substantive views on recycling, but about the processes of deliberation and the possibility of achieving a better understanding of a planning issue through these methods. Much of what we have learned through our investigation is applicable to participatory planning for a wide range of issues involving technology and health risk. While our focus is on water recycling, similar methods for integrating education with consultation could be utilized with a variety of planning issues. Methods of providing meaningful opportunities for public deliberation and involvement, especially regarding contentious issues, are of value and relevance for planning processes in all sectors.


Tina Slon

The campaign to protect Sandon Point from over-development has been going for over 15 years. Communty opposition has included an Aboriginal Tent Embassy and Green Ban picket for over the ast five years. Sadon Point contains over a quarter of the Illawarra's remaining coastal wetlands, endangered wetland ecological communities, a floodplain for four flood-prone creeks, vast Aboriginal tool-making sites and an ancient burial groud with a complete skeleton of a 6,000 year old 'wise man'.

After two years of public pressure, the government held a Commission of Inquiry in 2003 which attracted several hundred submissions. The COI clearly foud that the level of development proposed was excessive and proposed areas of conservation. After another two years of indecision, the government appointed a consultant to review the COI recommendations. The consultant's report rejects uch of the COI and is almost identical to the original proposal by Stockland, but with the addition of anothe large and intensive development on the Cockson Plibrico industrial site, and the possibility of more development on the Hanna land.

The Northern Illawarra community believes that the government must justify dismissing the outcomes of its own inquiry process. The people want to work with the government to find a solution which protects the coast and heritage of Sandon Point and in this paper suggests the following changes to current practice.
The campaign to protect Sandon Point from over-development has been going for over 15 years. Communty opposition has included an Aboriginal Tent Embassy and Green Ban picket for over the ast five years. Sadon Point contains over a quarter of the Illawarra's remaining coastal wetlands, endangered wetland ecological communities, a floodplain for four flood-prone creeks, vast Aboriginal tool-making sites and an ancient burial groud with a complete skeleton of a 6,000 year old 'wise man'.

After two years of public pressure, the government held a Commission of Inquiry in 2003 which attracted several hundred submissions. The COI clearly foud that the level of development proposed was excessive and proposed areas of conservation. After another two years of indecision, the government appointed a consultant to review the COI recommendations. The consultant's report rejects uch of the COI and is almost identical to the original proposal by Stockland, but with the addition of anothe large and intensive development on the Cockson Plibrico industrial site, and the possibility of more development on the Hanna land.

The Northern Illawarra community believes that the government must justify dismissing the outcomes of its own inquiry process. The people want to work with the government to find a solution which protects the coast and heritage of Sandon Point and in this paper suggests the following changes to current practice.


A study of the destruction of Aboriginal heritage at Sandon Point

Alex Peterson

This paper shows how the system has worked in the real world in the development of the first 6 stages at Sandon Point. There are many aspects to consider in improving the Environmental Planning, Consultation and Transparency. For example we could start from the top with banning the laws of contributions to political parties, I have chosen work from the bottom up as this shows how the laws have been ignored and our appeals have been dismissed without consideration.

I provide details from the original records of the way that the destruction of the Aboriginal artefacts and sites at Sandon Point were destroyed without proper consideration of their significance by all those organizations that are supposed to protect them The list includes the Archaeologist, the developer (Stockland) The Department of National Parks and Wildlife and the state and federal ministers.
Most of the information was obtained from the NPWS by using the Freedom of Information Act

Sandon Point development to now (May 2006) consists of stage 1 & stages 2-6 and the ancillary water treatment ponds. Stockland were required to obtain 3 Section 90 permits titled Consent to destroy Aboriginal artefacts or place to enable the subdivision to go ahead.

The paper shows how a differing archaeological review was not considered, and that the aboriginal groups were not allowed to have their chosen expert examine the site and how consultation with the Aboriginal community was avoided by the developer, NPWS, The NSW Minister for National Parks and the Federal Government minister for heritage. The paper also details the conditions of consent in the Section 90s that were ignored and also mentions the non indigenous issues that were detailed in the Development Control plan after extensive community consultation that were not carried out or inadequately carried out.

The Aboriginals were not informed of the Latest Archaeological investigations and the consent to destroy for the most significant area was given by NPWS when they had been advised by the Aboriginal Community that a detailed objection was in the mail and had been provided with a map months in advance of the this most significant tool site area.


June Pronk, secretary of the Illawarra Escarpment Coalition (IEC)

June Pronk will be presenting a brief history of the groups work over the last 16 years and a video showing some of the impacts of development on the Illawarra escarpment.


Bruce Reyburn


'Bruce Reyburn is aiming to talk about the need for the recognition
of the fourth level of government generally and to (specifically) reform WCC in light of its new community consultation process.'


Peter Moran

Lot 100 Lot 100 at Oak Flats was a parcel of land that had been in public ownership for approx. 30 years and in that time there had been no significant council funds spent enhancing the amenity of this land for the community. It remained a park bereft of any structures or facilities (not even a tap) yet was still used by the community for a variety of activities.

Council had previously informed residents that this parcel of land would remain in public ownership. At the time the process for the sale commenced this expression of councils wishes was over-ridden by the G.M. who was, at that time, a member of the organization that wished to purchase the land.
The decision to sell this public asset was taken before the public consultation process had finished.

Council appeared not to take into account the future needs of the community in regards to open space and the State Gov’t’s legislative requirements for such open space.

The sale occurred after a tender process which disadvantaged all possible purchasers except for the Catholic Church.

The sale price was based on a valuation linked to it’s value as 6a Public Open Space even though council would have received a higher return for the residents had a different basis of valuation been used.


Allan Rees, President of No Aircraft Noise

The ANEF, Australian Noise Exposure Forecast, system has been used for
many years to establish noise impacts and land uses around airports. It is a complex measure, taking into account the noise levels generated, the spectrum frequency of the noise, the frequency and range of impacts and with a weighting factor when the noise occurs at night.

Research by Bullen and Hede established the levels of annoyance reported by people who had been affected for some time (a higher level of annoyance is reported for newly affected people). Land use criteria have been recommended by the Civil Aviation Authority and its successors, which are generally adopted by councils and state governments.

The Australian Standards Association publishes AS 2021- Building Design for Aircraft Noise Intrusion, which sets indoor limits for various uses and which repeats the land use advice from the CAA. These standards include the limit where housing, schools, hospitals and public buildings should be insulated against aircraft noise.

Curfews are used at some of Australia's larger airports and are essential for nearby residents. Limits must be set on operating hours and the noise levels at which airports can operate without a curfew.

In practice, many airports have exceeded these limits and insulation schemes have not complied with the Australian Standards. Political favours to the aviation industry have allowed airports to operate at unacceptable levels.

There is a push by the industry to have a much simpler noise metric, the N70, adopted. This gives the number of times any point has noise exceeding 70 decibels (dBA). While that may allow people to more easily understand the metric, it fails when noise is frequently well above 70dBA. Other noise metrics are also used to describe noise levels.

The question for affected residents is ‘how much noise is enough?


The Local Impacts of Airport Expansion

Saeed Khan, GREENS Marrickville Councillor

Since the Draft Sydney Airport Master Plan was released by the in July 2003 Marrickville and other concerned councils have been trying to have a constructive dialogue with the Federal Government and Sydney Airport Corporation (Majority owned by Macquarie Bank) to come up with a good solution for Sydney Airport that everybody can live with.

So far, most submissions from effected councils and resident groups have fallen on deaf ears. Both, the Federal Transport Minister and Sydney Airport Management are moving ahead with aviation and non-aviation expansion, regardless of all its impacts on local infrastructure, environment and quality of life.


Australia’s energy future: the debate we have to have

John Kaye (The Greens NSW Upper House Candidate, 2007 NSW Elections)

Australians are the highest per capita greenhouse polluters in the world. Almost 50% of those emissions come from stationary energy. Transforming our nation from a coal-addicted climate miscreant into a world leader in the development and use of jobs-rich clean energy technologies poses a large but not insurmountable challenge. The Howard government just made the task harder with a nuclear red herring.

In terms of cost, timeliness, resource availability and security, jobs creation, community safety and inter-generational equity, nuclear power does not stack up against the renewable and efficiency alternatives. The nuclear option is expensive and dangerous and leaves the management of highly toxic and persistent wastes to hundreds of future generations of Australians. Current estimates are that it would take at least 20 years to install and commission a nuclear reactor in Australia, which is too late given the urgency of the need to reduce greenhouse emissions.

The lack of suitable sites for a nuclear reactor in eastern Australia was demonstrated by the Australia Institute when they proposed several, including the Illawarra. They dramatically highlighted the contradictions between the availability of an adequate supply of cooling water availability and minimising affected populations.

A sensible discussion of Australia’s future responses to global warming would consider nuclear power and then rapidly dismiss it.

The national debate has been distorted by the establishment of the high profile prime ministerial taskforce. The national interest has been hijacked by an agenda coming largely from the US government that is more focused nuclear re-processing, waste storage and nuclear proliferation.


Climate change and how we manage the land.

Noel Ryan (Climate Change Policy Analyst, The Wilderness Society)

Climate change contributes to land management issues and how the land is managed affects climate change. How we can best protect our ecosystems. Land clearing produces 6% of NSW greenhouse gas emissions and is the greatest threat to wildlife in the state. Why is landclearing still rampant in Australia's richest and most populous state? What needs to be done? The loggers have been promoting wood as a greenhouse friendly building material. The loggers of oldgrowth forests never mention the huge emissions of greenhouse gases that occur when an ancient forest is logged. The best way to stop the damage from climate change is to stop greenhouse gas emissions. To maximise the chances of species and ecosystems surviving climate change connectivity in the landscape must be maximised. TWS Wildcountry strategy to do this is outlined.


Coastal Wetlands – Worth Saving

Jill Merrin

The Illawarra coastline was once a string of pearls - coastal wetlands reflecting the sunlight, which formed a protective corridor between the ocean and the flatlands.

These were biodiversity powerhouses which abundantly fed the local Aboriginal people, absorbed flood waters, filtered out the sediment and nutrients flowing downstream from the escarpment, protected the coastline from high seas, and provided safe breeding areas for birds, fish animals and insects. Even some old people today remember Tom Thumb Lagoon seething with fish.

That was before the Lagoon became what is now Port Kembla, and we lost over 70% of that string of pearls – drained, filled, paved, and built upon. Much of the remainder suffers from uncovered acid sulphate soils, pollution from roads and backyards and industrial waste, invasion by weeds and pest animals, and accelerated filling from sediments.

One of the major impacts on coastal wetlands is through the urban development of upstream catchments. Through poor catchment management we have removed the creek-side vegetation, resulting in loss of natural filtration systems and increasing soil erosion into the creeks. We have built close to or over the top of creeks. We have straightened creeks, speeding up the flow and reducing absorption into the soil, groundwater and wetlands. We have allowed our domestic plants and animals to invade creek corridors and wetlands, destroying native plants and animals. We have changed the natural breeding cycles by opening estuaries to the sea.

And the surprising thing is that we are still doing this today. Where much of the developed world, even in Australia, is now de-channelising creeks in recognition of their importance to biodiversity and ecosystem health, we are still putting our creeks into concrete coffins.

It’s time we in the Illawarra caught up and started to respect, protect and nurture our remaining wetlands.


Participation in Planning: No Longer Living in the 70's

Dr Andrew H Kelly (Faculty of Law (Institute of Conservation Biology & Law)
University of Wollongong)

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) (EPAA) is now over twenty fives old. As a result of numerous changes since then, it now provides a statutory regime of considerable complexity for almost everyone, especially many decision-makers and concerned members of the public. Some of the most radical variation has occurred recently. The focus of this presentation is the consequent undermining of a key plank of planning law: public participation in plan-making and development decisions. This is closely linked with the democratic legitimacy of local government. Councils play a central role in environmental planning. But this has now being reduced.

The narrative will commence with a succinct consideration of the vestiges of modern planning law and its emergence from modern environmentalism. Reference will be made to fierce citizen action in urban areas against developmentalism. The EPAA afforded a legislative response to such community discomfort. One of its aims is still to ‘provide increased opportunity for public involvement and participation in environmental planning and assessment’. But in view of major legislative amendments, this is now questionable. The paper will briefly raise three controversial current issues:

  • the LEP template as gazetted on 31 March 2006;
  • the power of critical infrastructure provisions arising from the 2005 amendments in relation to the loss of both appeal and jurisdictional review rights; and
  • the yet unproclaimed power under the 2006 amendments of the Minister for Planning to appoint an a planning administrator or panel to exercise functions under the planning legislation.

These issues and many others beg questions about the extent to which opportunities for community involvement in the planning system, especially at the local government level, which were fought for decades ago, are now being eroded away.

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