COFFS Harbour City Council has had seven reports on public display over the Christmas period which will significantly affect the natural landscape of Coffs Harbour.
Only strong community opposition will save important natural areas proposed for development. Submissions must be made to the council before the end of January.
A key example is the Draft Industrial Lands Strategy.
The Strategy identifies lands of high conservation value zoned for industrial use at Coffs Harbour Airport, Hamilton Drive, Englands Road, Isles and Mansbridge Drives and other areas.
The majority of these areas are low lying and perform the vital function of filtering water from existing industrial areas as well as providing habitat.
The area of wetland and heathland vegetation at the end of Christmas Bells Road is of particular value.
Other areas of natural beauty will also be proposed for development around the airport when a master plan for the area is released later this year.
The significance of the airport area for natural and cultural heritage was highlighted in the late seventies when the areas were proposed as the Boambee Basin Nature Reserve.
These values are well documented in the Environment Impact Assessment report prepared for the airport expansion and in more recent studies commissioned by council.
These areas will be under immense threat from sea level rise and should be zoned immediately for environmental protection.
These areas contain habitat for koalas and other threatened fauna such as the grass owl, coastal planigale, squirrel glider, wallum froglet, grey-headed flying fox, blossom bat and regent honeyeater.
Areas identified as primary koala habitat in the Koala Plan of Management are mapped as available for industrial development. Vegetation- and koala-habitat mapping, previously available on council's website, has been removed and would have been invaluable in preparing submissions on this and other strategies.
Some are non-vegetated, but are adjacent to waterways or primary koala habitat.
Buffers to these areas are needed to improve water quality, enable safe movement of koalas and bushfire protection for residents.
The remaining natural areas between Boambee and Sawtell Headland and Tolhurst Lake must be added to the Coffs Coast Regional Park or a Nature Reserve.
Large areas are already public land and the remaining private land could be progressively purchased from Section 94 contributions combined with State and Federal Government funding. • Contributed by Kevin Taylor, Ecological Consultant and member of the Coffs Harbour Bellingen Branch of the National Parks Association.