Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 987
Civic Square ACT 2608
Mr Neil Savery
Chief Planning Executive
ACT Planing and Land Authority
GPO Box 1908
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Dear Mr Savery
Federal Golf Course – Draft Environmental Impact Statement (removal of concessional status)
Friends of Grasslands (FOG) is a community group dedicated to the conservation of natural temperate grassy ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. FOG advocates, educates and advises on matters to do with the conservation of grassy ecosystems, and carries out surveys and other on-ground work. FOG is based in Canberra and its more than 200 members include professional scientists, landowners, land managers and interested members of the public.
FOG has concerns about the removal of concessional status associated with the proposed Federal Golf Course Development (Draft EIS, Deconcessionalisation of Crown Lease - Block 1 Section 56 Red Hill (Woden Valley),reference application number 200900284). FOG can see no new reasons advanced in the new proposal that would justify overturning the previous decision to reject the earlier proposal, and strong reasons why the new proposal should again be rejected. The scheme appears to be similar to that rejected by the community in 1999.
The Red Hill woodland has over 175 woodland plant species, 40 threatened or rare animals or plants and was identified in Action Plan 27 as containing the endangered ecological community Yellow Box Red Gum Grassy Woodland. FOG highly values the Red Hill woodland remnant. Considerable time and effort such as the community groups such as the Red Hill Regenerators has been expended in the protection, enhancement and monitoring of Red Hill’s wildlife and ecosystem as well as on related education activities. Progression of this proposal has the potential to undermine the achievements made to date, as well as wider conservation aspirations.
FOG is concerned that any urban development on this site will have a significant impact on Red Hill Nature Reserve and its plants and wildlife. The modified woodland in the golf course is contiguous with the Nature Reserve and contains habitat for bird, possum and bat populations, habitat that will be cleared if development occurred here. Urban development in this area could also result in clearing within Red Hill Nature Reserve to provide roads, fire protection zones and service connections. As well there would be indirect impacts on the adjoining flora and fauna from the development, such as the spread of weeds from construction activities and disturbance from activities of residents and their pets. FOG’s view is that it is better to prevent such impacts in high quality grassy woodland areas rather than attempt to mitigate them after the event.
FOG notes that “the removal of the concessional status would not grant development rights or infer that approval for future potential development proposals would be forthcoming”, but is concerned that this proposed change of status is the forerunner to a residential development on the site. FOG urges that other options be considered such as adding the site to the Red Hill Nature Reserve, or requesting that the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment include the area in her current Investigation into the Canberra Nature Park (nature reserves); the Molonglo River Corridor (nature reserves) and Googong Foreshores.
29 March 2010