Amendment 25 to LEP 1991 Finalised
The 5 December 2000 Council meeting saw Councillors finalise
Amendment 25 to LEP (Local Environment Plan) 1991. This amendment has
been many years in the making and now goes to the Department of
Urban Affairs and Planning for ratification.
The Amendment was finalised on the casting vote of the Mayor,
after Councillors had voted six-six on a BMCS/RAID request that
Council reinstate clauses that had been changed between the time
the Amendment was on public exhibition and when it came before
Councillors in favour of the BMCS/RAID request were Clrs Greenhill,
Burridge, Henson, Searle, Gaul and Kozelj. Opposed were Clrs Hamilton,
van der Kley, Kime, Myles, Egan and Angel. When announcing the
tied vote, Mayor Angel announced that his casting vote would be
to maintain the status quo, which, in this case, was to re-instate
the clauses that had been on exhibition. His comments were greeted
with much applause from the large audience in the chamber.
Amendment 25 will improve the level of Environment protection
in the lands covered by LEP1991 - primarily the land on village
edges and the land between villages.
Much of this land is steeply sloping, has watercourses on it,
has rocky outcrops, or contains rare flora and fauna. This Amendment
recognises the importance of these features, and will limit the
amount of land clearing and subdivision that will be possible.
The clauses that Council reinstated had previously been agreed
by Council, had been on exhibition, and had drawn no adverse comment
from the Community. By ensuring that the finalised plan was consistent
with the version that was on public exhibition, approval by the
State Government must now be a mere formality. We are looking
forward to seeing this Amendment included in LEP1991 early in
the new year.
World Heritage Listing was announced just recently. One week
later, it would have been an amazing about-face for Council to
have passed a watered-down version of Amendment 25.
Another Council Vote
This long promised amendment to LEP 91 came before Council on
Tuesday 26 April. The first we knew that this was to happen was
the arrival of the business papers on the preceding Saturday -
the middle of the Easter/Anzac break. So the holiday period was
spent diligently reading Council Business Papers, with phones
running hot, discussing, networking and lobbying.
Council staff had recommended that Amendment 25 be approved for
public re-exhibition. Whilst the proposed amendment was substantially
the same as previous versions, there were some differences that
had to be carefully researched and considered.
The society and RAID requested that some wording that had been
in a previous version of the amendment be reinstated - to strengthen
the definition of development excluded land by allowing for buffers,
and by protecting land that contained rare species of flora.
Councillors were receptive, and agreed - though they did stipulate
that they would get a legal opinion about the legality of the
changes they were approving.
Amendment 25 is the best chance we have to protect marginal areas
from the over-development of urban sprawl; areas such as Winnicoopa
Road, Blaxland, and The Mall, Warrimoo. It is to be on exhibition
for 28 days, from a yet-to-be announced date. Submissions in support
of Amendment 25, or with any suggested changes, should be forwarded
to council when the exhibition period commences.
'Soon' Is Now Later
Despite assurances that Amendment 25 was nearing approval as
a legislated change to LEP 1991, a recent Court decision overturned
this expectation. In December 1999 Judge Cowdroy of the Land and
Environment Court ruled that Blue Mountains City Council had failed
to give proper notice to adjoining Councils about the Amendment,
and that the final plan ended up being different from that which
Widespread public support has been consistently expressed for
protection of sensitive vegetaftion, habitat for rare, endangered
or vulnerable flora and fauna, watercourses and steep slopes.
While it is part of the longer history of moves towards strengthening
Council's environmental legislation, Amendment 25 itself can be
traced back as far as March 1997 and has been endorsed by Council
at three separate meetings.
Despite the Judge's decision, Blue Mountains Conservation Society
is pleased that BMCC's Acting General Manager, Robert Greenwood,
has said "Council is still committed to achieving the environmental
protection aims that Amendment 25 tried to address" (BMG
15-Dec-1999) and that Council has recommenced the re-exhibition