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SEQ Regional Plan Review - submission terms of reference

Last Updated on Monday, 12 March 2012 14:20

act_now.gifDeputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Paul Lucas in a recent media release said that the great value of the current SEQ Regional Plan is its protection of 80 per cent of the region from urban development.  Closing date for comment on this initial stage was Friday 6 June COB (close of business) and the proforma is here.

Queenslanders concerned about ecologically sustainable development are encouraged to read the TOR - terms of refernce - and submit their own priorities - not limit comments to those on form provided.

If you believed the opening statement you would wonder what is all this fuss surrounding the SEQ Regional Plan all about. While to say 80% of the region is protected from urban development maybe correct, to say it is protected from development due to urban growth is NOT! The fact of the matter is not all is well in SEQ and its all because of our unsustainable population growth, and because plans like the SEQ Regional Plan encourage the same old same old; business as usual; development at any cost; follow the fool's dream of endless growth.

Some facts to ponder ---

The fact is, many of our waterways through the SEQ region (as per SEQ Regional Plan) and SEQ Bioregion are not in good shape.

The fact is, only about 26% of SEQ is remnant bushland and yet we are continuing to clear native vegetation at an alarming rate for dams, roads, power lines, quarries and pasture all for the purpose of supporting SEQ's unsustainable growth.

The fact is that of the 2,189,850 ha of land in SEQ, only 13% is classed as national parks and forest reserves and therefore fully protected.

The rest, 4% is other State land, 65% is grazing and forestry land, 5% is cropping land and 2% percent as water and transport land, and 11% is urban and rural transport land (almost us much as our protected estate). By 2026 urban land will cover 12.6% of SEQ and will continue to grow.

To put the real spotlight on growth consider the growth rate of 2%.  Using  the rule of 70 - this is used to work out the time to double your population, simply divide 70 by the annual growth rate. Take the lowly growth rate of 2% for example, it will take 35 years to double your population. So in 2026 SEQ's population will be 3.5 million, in 2061 it will be 7 million and in 2096 14 million. What a lovely crowded place we will have.

What is needed to improve upon the SEQ Regional Plan and aspire towards a more ecologically sustainable outcome?

  • The SEQ Regional Plan must be built upon the goal of Ecological Sustainable Development, that is, all development must improve the total quality of life, both now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends.
  • The SEQ Regions Carrying Capacity must be understood and the same achieved through the SEQ Regional Plan.
  • The Actions within the Healthy Waterways Strategy 2007 - 2012 must be supported by the SEQ Regional Plan.

http://www.healthywaterways.org/strategy_pdfs.html

  • The SEQ Natural Resource Management Plan Resource Condition Targets must be supported by the SEQ Regional Plan.
  • The expert findings and recommendations incorporated into the ‘State of the Region Report' (to be released in July) must be addressed by the SEQ Regional Plan.
  • The SEQ Regional Plan must incorporate SEQ Catchments Constraint mapping.
  • The SEQ Regional Plan must incorporate SEQ Catchments Eco system services mapping.
  • Endangered Regional Ecosystems and Of Concern must be fully protected from any further developments.
  • Significant and regional biodiversity and wildlife corridors must be fully protected under the SEQ Regional Plan.
  • Endangered and Vulnerable species must be given strong protection under the SEQ Regional Plan.
  • The SEQ koala and its habitat must be fully protected via the SEQ Regional Plan.
  • The SEQ Regional Plan must incorporate the recommendations of the joint submission made by the environmental sector via QCC on the review of the State Coastal Plan.
  • Coastal wetlands of State Significance must be fully protected by the SEQ Regional Plan.
  • As per the overwhelming public response made to the review of the State Coastal Plan, no further canal estates will be permitted.
  • The SEQ Regional Plan must seek to enforce a target for public transport use and green energy of use in SEQ.
  • The SEQ Regional Plan must protect more open space and recreational land but not use national parks or land for conservation to make up the current shortfall in open space and recreational land.

 BACKGROUND OVERVIEW

South East Queensland region (SEQ region as per SEQ Regional Plan) continues to experience high growth. The following annual growth rates: 2% Brisbane, 3.8% Gold Coast, 3.6% Sunshine Coast and 3.0% Moreton Bay [1] will see the population for these regions double within 35 years, 18.4 years, 19.4 years and 23.3 years respectively. Little wonder that about 3,550 hectares of remnant vegetation was lost between 2001 - 2003, [2] while in the SEQ Bioregion 17,620 ha of woody vegetation was lost in the same period [3] (6,214 ha in the SEQ region [4]). These losses have been increasing in the bioregion since 1999 and for the period 2003 - 2004 almost 21,000 ha was lost [5] and in 2004 - 2005 21,400 ha [6].  Clearing in the SEQ region, SEQNRM region to be exact, increased in 2003 - 2004 to 8,207 ha and then decreased in 2004 - 2005 to 5,498 ha.  By 2026 60,000 ha of bushland and open space in SEQ will be lost to urbanization [7]. The servicing of this increased urbanization will see negative impacts increase in the SEQ bioregion. Clearly, the lack of control on growth is having a significant negative impact on biodiversity.

SEQ Regional Nature Conservation Strategy is acknowledged as a positive step towards biodiversity protection, but specific legislation to enforce biodiversity protection doesn't exist. The Vegetation Management Act 1999 hasn't fully protected Endangered and Of Concern Ecosystems in SEQ, while the lack of prioritization between State Planning Policies results in conflicts and negates or diminishes biodiversity protection objectives.

The SEQ koala has declined from common to vulnerable, with the Koala Coast koala population declining by 26% in seven years. Unless further action is taken the Koala Coast urban koala population will be extinct by 2020 and the rural population effectively extinct by 2043. [8] This population is genetically distinct from other SEQ koala populations, a point unfortunately neither acknowledged in legislation nor affording increased protection.

SEQ enjoys good quality air [9] but given SEQ's growing population this will be increasingly difficult to maintain.

Development continues to take precedent over protection of amenity and biodiversity along SEQ's coastline. Port of Brisbane expansion, 2nd runway, fresh water extraction, marina expansion as well as urban encroachment onto floodplains and remaining SEQ's coastal rural / bushland landscapes, emphasize the weakness in coastal resource protection legislation.   Currently less than 1% of Moreton Bay is fully protected but this is expected to increase to 15%. However, this is still well short of the 30% recommended by contemporary scientific literature. Turtle deaths in Moreton Bay are high, with 131 turtle deaths reported between Sept 2007 - Dec. and Moreton Bay dugong fatalities are the highest in Queensland. Coastal planning remains

incomplete and poorly linked to the planning cycle and lacks performance indicators to encourage improvements. Planning for climate change along the coast is ad hoc and limited.

While the Healthy Waterways program has significantly increased our knowledge of SEQ waterways and wetlands, insufficient investment in the management of stormwater pollution and riparian habitat rehabilitation jeopardizes long term objectives. Despite the optimism, Moreton Bay's overall health slides slowly backwards (report card: B+ 2003, B- 2007) [10] likewise for our freshwater streams, Ecosystem Health Index was 0.83 in 2003; 0.81 in 2004; 0.80 in 2005 and 0.79 in 2006. It is estimated by 2026 point source and diffuse pollution will increase by 50% and 20% respectively due to population growth. 

[1] http://www.localgovernment.qld.gov.au/docs/planning/information_and_forecasting/QPU-11-nov-2007/full-report.pdf

[2] QLD 2007 State of the Environment Report. EPA.

[3] Land Cover Change in Queensland 2001 - 2003. Natural Resource Sciences.  Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

[4] Land Cover Change in Queensland 2001 - 2003. Natural Resource Sciences.  Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

[5] Companion Spreadsheet for SLATS 2003-2004 Report

[6] Land Cover Change in Queensland 2004-2005. A Statewide Landcover and Trees Study Report. Natural Resources and Water.

[7] Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program. Annual Technical Report 2005 - 06. South East Queensland Healthy Waterways Partnership, Brisbane.

[8] Koala Futures Discussion Paper. Redland Shire Council.

[9] http://www.oesr.qld.gov.au/queensland-by-theme/environment/tables/seq-gladstone-mt-isa-air-quality/index.shtml

 [10] http://www.ehmp.org/annual_report_cards.html

 

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