Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 987
Civic Square ACT 2608
Phone: 02 62.. ....
Communications & Community Consultant
PO Box 1942
CANBERRA CITY ACT 2601
Dear Ms Savage
Moncrieff Residential Housing Estate: Environmental Impact Statement Community Consultation
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 members include professional scientists, landowners, land managers and interested members of the public.
Moncrieff contains areas of partially or moderately modified box-gum woodland, a moderate population of golden sun moth and a few uncommon plants, such as a large population of Cullen tenax. In FOG’s view, destruction of these areas for development purposes will lead to a net loss of biodiversity in the ACT.
FOG has been concerned about development in north Gungahlin, including Moncrieff, for some time. In its comments on the original proposal for Moncrieff to the Commonwealth (letter of 28 September 2011 in response to EPBC referral number 2011/6113), FOG opposed “further development or finalisation of development planning in Belconnen and Gungahlin that impacts on endangered and vulnerable grassy ecosystems and species until a strategic review is undertaken (with opportunity for public input) and the best approach to conserving these ecosystems and species into the future has been determined and acted upon”. While some progress has been made on this front, the Government is only just starting to brief community groups such as FOG on its Gungahlin Offset Approach and Strategic Assessment, and has certainly not allowed much opportunity for FOG to be informed about this, let alone provide considered feedback on it. For this reason, FOG considers the continuing work on this development proposal to be premature, and the following comments should be considered in that context.
FOG considers the draft changes to the Moncrieff concept plan as proposed by AECOM at the recent information session to be preferable to the original preferred option (5B). The AECOM changes reduce the area of higher quality box-gum woodland being destroyed and enhance connectivity of the retained areas, alternatives that FOG has already stated as a preference.
FOG raised other issues in its 2011 submission on this development proposal, relating to:
- Connectivity with other high value areas in Gungahlin
- Buffer zones for bushfire and other management being within the development footprint rather than within land retained because of its conservation values
- Offsets for destruction of higher conservation areas
These issues still remain – FOG can provide a copy of its earlier submission if more detail is needed and not available.
In view of the lack of availability to the community of an ACT Government offset policy, FOG remains concerned that offsets, particularly indirect offsets, will be seen as a way to get around the destruction of native vegetation, with the final result being a net loss of our endangered grassy ecosystems and dependent species.
John Fitz Gerald
22 October 2012