The Community Environment Network (CEN), the Central Coast’s peak environmental organisation, will continue to work for the permanent protection of Porters Creek Wetland following Central Coast Council’s decision to walk away from a Conservation Agreement and return to the priorities of the former Wyong Shire Council.
“Agenda item 4.10, which was added to the agenda late and without notice, recommended putting a stop to a near-complete conservation agreement to give Porters Creek Wetland permanent protection,” said CEN Executive Member, Mr Mike Campbell.
“The community had no warning of this complete change of direction in relation to protecting the Central Coast’s largest freshwater wetland,” Mr Campbell said. “CEN had been writing to Mr Persson since his arrival in October and had met with him in December to seek assurances that the Conservation Agreement for Porters Creek Wetland, that was ready for sign off before the commencement of administration, would be finalised without delay.
“Mr Persson seemed supportive but then maps related to the Conservation Agreement were placed on exhibition – a step CEN understands was completely unnecessary and of no real value to the community.
“It was shocking to see the Administrator adopt a staff recommendation not only to stop the Conservation Agreement but to spend $5 million of restricted funds on a masterplan for the Warnervale ALA at a time when the Council has to repay $150 million in commercial borrowings, raise rates, increase fees, cut services and dispense with 15 to 20 per cent of its employees,” he said.
“The community was told only months ago that land at Sparks Rd, Warnervale and Warren Rd, Warnervale, had to be sold to fix Central Coast Council’s financial crisis and yet the Administrator has agreed to withdraw those properties for sale so they can become part of the expanded airport.
“It is concerning that Mr Persson has accepted a recommendation from the same staff that have ignored multiple Council resolutions and stymied efforts to complete a Conservation Agreement for Porters Creek Wetland with the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) for the past two years.
“The importance of sustaining Porters Creek Wetland cannot be understated. It is vital to the water quality and health of the whole Tuggerah Lakes system. It is our region’s backup water supply during drought. Its protection is fundamental to the future biodiversity of this region.
“The wetland is already under immense pressure from surrounding development so the need for permanent protection is clear.
“Mr Persson assured the meeting that he did not believe the ALA would pose a threat to the wetland. If that is the case why does the Conservation Agreement need to be shelved?
“The Community Environment Network will do all we can to get to the bottom of why the idea of an expanded airport has once again taken priority over the wishes of the community, fiscal responsibility and the needs of the environment.”