Kay Davison on the edge of Hearnes Lake near the proposed development site.
Kay Davison on the edge of Hearnes Lake near the proposed development site. Trevor Veale

Govt 'should buy sensitive land'

ENVIRONMENTALLY sensitive land on the Northern Beaches should be bought by the NSW Government, says a spokesman for the Coffs Harbour and Bellingen branch of the National Parks Association.

NPA spokesman Ashley Love said buying parcels of land at Hearnes Lake, Emerald Beach North and the South Moonee Forest which were currently the subject of widely challenged Part 3A planning applications over sensitive coastal environments, would protect those environments and provide green belts between villages on the Northern Beaches.

"The NPA believes those properties should be purchased and incorporated in the adjoining Coffs Coast Regional Park and Moonee Nature Reserve," Mr Love said.

"The RTA is required, in accordance with the approval for the Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade, to prepare a Biodiversity Offsets Package by January 13, 2011.

"The package must include a minimum of 98.8ha of compensatory habitat to provide for clearing along the highway corridor.

"The properties, with their mix of tall blackbutt-dominated eucalypt forest; floodplain and estuarine communities match well the habitats being extensively cleared during the highway upgrade."

Mr Love said the highway upgrade approval, given by now NSW premier Kristina Keneally during her time as Planning Minister, provided for the involvement of the Department of Environment Climate Change and water and the Marine Parks Authority in the selection of compensatory habitat areas, with the final approval to be given by the Department of Planning.

He said as well as helping to protect water quality and fish nurseries for the Solitary Islands Marine Park and permanently protecting the sensitive coastal environment, such a move would distance the Keneally Government from allegations that contributions from developers were influencing the Part 3A approvals process.

Local residents and environmentalists are protesting about a proposal for a 280-lot subdivision south of Hearnes Lake and north of Sandy Beach and will hold a meeting at Hearnes Lake at 11am on Saturday to consider further action.

Hearnes Lake Road resident Kay Davison said the proposed subdivision showed housing lots on dunal swales and in areas which would be under water when the intermittently opening and closing lake was closed and at its high water level.

Sandy Beach resident Teena Mudiman said in 31 years of overlooking the area, she had seen the whole site under water a number of times.

Emerald Beach-based ecologist David Scotts said the Hearnes Lake site had been degraded over several decades by grazing and removal of underbrush, but was easily renewable and it was an important habitat for frogs, including the wallum froglet, birds and bats.

He said development of the areas  and removal of the food sources they   provided, especially in autumn and winter, could cause problems in other placessuch as orchards or towns.

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