Our biggest concern is the loss of tree canopy cover and vegetation, which increases dangerous urban heat and reduces rainfall. There are more heat related deaths in WA than there are road fatalities. Most of Perth’s tree removals are happening on privately owned land. The State Government has a duty to protect citizens and mitigate urban heat. It is not enough to focus on bushland areas and street trees, WA urgently needs tree protection laws and Local Governments cannot enforce them without State Government (WAPC) approval.
See article on the Conversation – Perth Green Growth Plan puts strategic environmental assessments to the city test
Also see, WAToday article – WA government ‘asleep at wheel’ on Perth tree protection: Bayswater Councillor, some excellent points by Cr Chris Cornish.
The Urban Bushland Council has done an excellent assessment on how it will affect natural areas.
Following is a submission example by Planning & Environmental Lawyer, Sandra Boulter, who has worked as a Director in Local Government, which she put together very quickly, but it contains some critical points to consider;
“To: Draft Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million Department of the Premier and Cabinet Locked Bag 3001 WEST PERTH WA 6872
Submission on the Draft Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million December 2015
This is a general submission against using Planning Polices and Action Plans as a mechanism for protection of Perth and Peel Region human, flora and fauna living places, absent any real enforceable legal nexus between planning and development in Western Australia.
Just look at the poor outcomes and loss so far, with this approach.
In no particular order but following the synopsis summary:
1. We need a development assessment approach to development in WA, at present we have a development approval process. This approach has already seen such irretrievable loss.
2. Protecting our natural environment requires identification of connectivity and wildlife corridors between nature reserves, and what each LG needs to do in terms of wildlife corridors through its area
3. Liveable Neighbourhoods need abundant tranquil quiet green spaces, and wildlife places and corridors.
4. “Cutting red tape” as expressed in the draft document signals ignoring the rules, regulations and standards that protect green spaces and residential amenity, and flora and fauna. This phrase always fills me with horror.
5. If red tape is going to be cut, then there must be a corresponding right for third parties to appeal the outcomes of cutting red tape, to the State Administrative Tribunal against development, subdivision and scheme amendment approvals.
6. Conservation action must include identification of wildlife corridors between the reserves – as they cannot work if they are islands, and appropriate planting in those corridors and identification of feral species and weeds that pose a threat to indigenous flora and fauna and what can be done about it.
7. Local knowledge and understanding is critical and local governments should be resourced to respond to these impacts and have appeal rights against DAP, WAPC and Ministerial decisions that have adverse impact on local amenity and environmental assets in breach of the polices proposed to be adopted by this draft Plan.
8. Federal government has the money, state governments have the power and local governments will inherit any of the problems arising from this plan, so local government input and appeal rights is essential.
9. All Local Planning Schemes and Reserves control should foster planting of, protection of and enhancement of tree canopies and wildlife understories and minimum levels for soft landscaping on each subdivided lot. Quality outcomes cannot be achieved without this nor can mitigation of climate change and mitigation of heat island impacts be achieved.
10. Certainty for developers is not important -they develop for profit and then leave us with the problems. DAP decisions are spoiling any chance of acceptance of state based planning by communities because local and State planning policies are ignored or not given adequate weight by DAP and WAPC decision makers, generally with impunity, as will happen with this plan.
11. There is little role for any planning policy – even the highest order State Planning Policies such as Liveable Neighbourhoods – if there is no legal nexus between the policies and development, subdivision and scheme amendment decision making. It is all very well to make the best planning policies in the world but if they are not binding on developers, then are not worth the paper they are printed on. For example, if the planning policies are departed from they should generate a third party appeal right in the SAT, especially from local government. NIMBYs have a very important role in exposing development that is non-compliant with planning policy and should be entitled to challenge such decisions.
12. “Integrated and long–term planning is critical to delivering a compact, liveable and consolidated city and effective environmental protection” is important but we do not have it absent the legal nexus identified above. You might need to put the expanding population somewhere but you need to do this in a sensitive well thought out way or you create more problems – not create an expectation through Planning Policies that this is how it will work – that is just not the experience on the ground. And we have all watched Utopia, which has many elements of truth in my experience.
13. The Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) opinion on many environmental matters has been challenged in the Supreme Court recently and their opinions holds little weight with me given the way it is currently set up by government. EPA decisions should be able to be challenged in the SAT.
14. Having the Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million being exempt from the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is wrong and dangerous, simply on the basis of an unenforceable plan – just look at the recent 29 species added to the endangered list and the real risk to Koalas recently identified in Queensland. This exemption will be a developer’s dream to increase profit at the expense of WA’s at risk flora and fauna. Our local EPA is weak and under-resourced, we must have the EPBC applying to protect the remaining wildlife habitats in the Perth and Peel region.
15. The commitments such as the retention of Bush Forever sites and important populations of threatened species and ecological communities are irrelevant if they only have the weight of planning policies.
16. The draft Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million will support the population growing by almost 70 per cent with clearing of only a further three per cent of the coastal plain and further clearing of less than one per cent east of the Darling scarp. Given what we have already lost, % is unacceptable form of measurement and it should not be measured in % terms but in habitat and corridor terms, and residential amenity in terms of Urban Forest cover.
17. The Conservation Program is set out in the draft Strategic Conservation Plan and draft Action Plan H is only in a non-binding plan and is of little use in truly protecting what should be protected.
18. The 170,000 hectares of new conservation reserves includes establishing secure tenure and management arrangements for Bush Forever sites and establishing the Peel Regional Park, as well as major expansions to existing national parks and nature reserves. It is only Nature Reserves that cannot be used or developed without an act of parliament and regional parks do not have sufficient – if any – protection against development. They are like plans – can be ignored or overcome.
19. What real protection will the “marine management area will be established for the Peel Harvey estuary and its major tributaries, to improve protection of this internationally renowned wetland system and its extensive and diverse birdlife” while continuing to support recreational and commercial fishing?
20. “Reducing nutrient inflow into the Swan Canning and Peel Harvey estuaries is essential to improving the long–term health of these systems. The draft plan commits to the introduction of targeted mandatory soil testing for agricultural properties of 40 hectares or greater in size in the Swan Canning and Peel Harvey coastal plain catchments, as well as long-term drainage intervention programs in both systems and a suite of other high priority measures to improve water quality”. Even if this is in a plan, what real impact will it have. What will be the real and effective consequences if the plan is departed from or the targeted mandatory soil testing is not done?
21. How will the Conservation Category Wetlands … continue to be protected and a revised wetland buffer policy will be developed and implemented through the land use planning process by policy and planning where no-one can complain with legal effect about breach of such plans and policy?
22. The same argument applies to any plan or policy for Protecting Carnaby’s cockatoo [as a] central focus through a Strategic Conservation Plan. How is it binding on developers? Who can enforce it? Can third parties enforce it?
23. Currently, EPA environmental assessment in the Perth and Peel regions occurs on an incremental and fragmented basis because of the way it is set up, poor resources and no right of third party appeal against their decisions.
24. This draft Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan does not give certainty of high residential outcomes and good environmental outcomes because its policies and plans are not enforceable by third parties, because as per usual the developers will really be in charge not the planners or the Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million December 2015.”