Wildlife corridors are back on the council agenda

COFFS Harbour's controversial wildlife corridors are returning to the council's agenda this week, in a watered-down form

Three councillors have put forward a rescission motion for tomorrow's meeting.

Councillors Sally Townley, Bob Palmer and Rodney Degens are proposing to move that the council rescind its May 28 move to merely 'note' the corridor mapping which has been undertaken.

They will then move that the council endorse the Landscape Corridors of the Coffs Harbour Local Government Area final report and digital mapping layer for voluntary purposes only and not for regulatory uses like planning, land use or policy development.

This means the mapped corridors would be used only for voluntary landholder weed control, bush regeneration and revegetation work.

The motion includes that the council prepare a composite terrestrial biodiversity assets and ecological significance mapping layer as the next step in implementing the council's adopted biodiversity action strategy 2012-20130, without the landscape corridors as a consideration.

The mapped wildlife corridors are intended to identify the best connections in the landscape to guide investment in biodiversity preservation projects over the next 50-100 years, but some landholders fear they will curtail activities on their land.

Kris Hely, who has applied to address tomorrow's meeting on the topic, said new funding from state and federal government sources were now targeted towards corridors and she had calculated that a decision not to proceed with corridors in Coffs Harbour could cost the local economy about $3 million a year, money which came from external sources.

Ms Hely said her own small bush regeneration company had been working in the field locally for 17 years and had employed 16 people for the last five years.

Other items on tomorrow's agenda include a motion by Cr Sally Townley for council staff to prepare a report on a possible rate rebate of $3-$5000 for solar installations on commercial properties of more than 10kW,using money from the Renewable Energy Reserve Fund.

Also on the agenda is the Fit for the Future improvement proposal, which is the alternative to a merger for Coffs Harbour City Council.

While the council was assessed in February by the Independent Local Government Review as having the scale and capacity to operate without an immediate merger with another council, Coffs Harbour still has to prepare an improvement program for submission to the state government by June 30.

Also on tomorrow's agenda include a motion by Cr Sally Townley for council staff to prepare a report on a possible rate rebate of $3-$5000 for solar installations on commercial properties of more than 10kW,using money from the Renewable Energy Reserve Fund.

Other matters up for decision include remuneration for councillors; rates and charges for 2015-2016, granting of voluntary pension rebates and the revised 2015-16 delivery program.

Also included on the business paper are policies for water restrictions, recycled water and private sewer pump stations as well as recycled water management.



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