Controversial strategy is back

COFFS Harbour's controversial draft Priority Habitat and Corridors Strategy (PHACS) will reappear at tonight's Coffs Harbour City Council meeting.

The council will hear a progress report on the 2010-2030 strategy, including its preparation, strategic implementation and public consultation requirements.

The strategy identifies areas of high conservation value within the Coffs Harbour local government area and the corridors or links which allow animals, insects and birds to move between them, maintaining the diversity of plants and animals over the long term.

Since the issue was debated by councillors in April last year, Coffs Harbour City Council staff have been refining the PHACS and carrying out ground truthing to support and update the vegetation mapping that underpins the strategy.

Much of the controversy over the original draft strategy centred on the divergence between what was on the ground versus what was on the maps and what would be permissible within different PHACS zones.

PHACS was last debated at a council meeting on April 22, 2010, when the councillors resolved that the PHACS and its draft mapping would be the subject of further negotiations with the Department of Planning as part of the standard instrument local environmental plan process, with the note that finalisation was not required at that stage. The revised PHACS was due to be submitted to the councillors in May 2010, with public consultation to follow and formal adoption in July 2010.

That process was derailed by a May 11, 2010, letter from the Department of Planning to the council expressing concern that re-exhibiting the PHACS would hold up the citywide standard instrument LEP.

Added to the concerns about the mapping, it was decided not to use the PHACS as part of the local environment plan.

Tonight's meeting will be held at 5pm at the Coffs Harbour City Council Chambers.

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