Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 987
Civic Square ACT 2608
Phone: 02 62.. ....
Sustainable Development Directorate
Re: Molonglo Valley Stage 2 Group Centre – Community consultation closing June 15
As you are aware, Friends of Grasslands (FOG) is a community group dedicated to the conservation of indigenous grassy ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. FOG has already provided comments on earlier stages of the Molonglo Valley development project and attended the most recent information and consultation session on May 23rd at Weston. We are pleased to see new refinements in the area put aside partly for conservation of Aprasia parapulchella (pink tailed worm lizard), and in the alignments of river crossings.
However, FOG is concerned about an apparent lack of coordination between planning for the Molonglo Valley group centre and for the adjoining Molonglo River Park (which contains the highest value Aprasia habitat). FOG has obtained the latest publicly available information, the ESDD document “Molonglo Valley Stage 2 – Planning and design Framework April 2012, and notes in it many positive statements about coordination in concept and planning for Stages 2, 3 and the River Park. However, in FOG’s view, parallel planning for the areas needs to be far better demonstrated already at this conceptual stage. For example, high priority needs to be assigned to ensuring that both planned formal paths and informal non-vehicular movements from the group centre through any recreation facilities in the River Park have minimal impact on the sustainability and connectivity in the Aprasia habitat. From what our members saw at the recent public consultation session, the two planning concepts are not yet physically linked together. FOG is also concerned about conflict between some of the indicative connections to the River Park and open space network appearing on a diagram displayed on May 23rd, and the conservation of habitat for Aprasia.
It is inevitable that, given the Group Centre’s proximity to residential areas, informal paths across the river corridor will develop over time. Thoughtful design of formal paths will limit the development of informal paths by directing any away from the better areas of rocky natural grasslands housing the highest densities of Aprasia. For instance, a good path within the inner asset protection zones (using the bushfire management terminology) will tend to keep at least some recreational traffic inside the mapped boundaries of Stage 2 and out of the River Park. This is particularly important for this Group Centre segment of Stage 2 with its very long residential and transport interfaces to the Molonglo River corridor.
FOG also calls for tree plantings in the group centre, particularly those nearest to the river corridor, to be limited to species compatible with the conservation values and aims of the river park.
In summary, planning for Stage 2 Group Centre is clearly transforming fast from conceptual to actual level of plan. FOG knows of no publicly available data or documents showing that planning of the adjoining conservation and open-space areas is proceeding at comparable pace. This contradicts a specific Key Consideration (3.1 in the planning and design framework) which was intended to protect environmental and landscape attributes from being compromised by Stage 2 development. In particular, FOG wishes to express concerns relating to natural environment, matters of NES, and bushfire management. FOG has no specific views about the three questions on planning of the Group Centre posed for the community on the ACT Government’s Time-To-Talk website.
John Fitz Gerald
12 June 2012