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Council plots new direction
towards eco-rehabilitation

by Cameron Outridge

Caloundra City Council has made a major step forward in shaping the future of the Sunshine Coast as the green alternative to the Gold Coast, according to Caloundra City Councillor Andrew Champion. “It’s the blue print for the future and a defining point in the physical appearance of the Sunshine Coast,” Cr Champion said.

In a “landmark decision” Caloundra City Council endorsed a proposal from Cr Andrew Champion to support an investigation of the rehabilitation of up to 70 percent of two large parcels of rural land identified in its new City Plan. “Conventional urban development sees just 10 percent of land dedicated as park and 90 percent developed. Under my proposal, about 70 percent is natural with just 30 percent developed,’’ he said.

“Developers know that they have no development rights when land is zoned rural and that the state government’s new Office of Urban Management will prevent them from using their increasing land banks”. Identified as “future investigation areas” in the council’s town plan the lands are currently owned by several developers including Investa, Lensworth and Juniper.

“The land is currently zoned rural but has no development rights and like in Maroochy Shire is under pressure from developers,’’Cr Champion said. “Our council is unique in that it has identified which lands in the City are likely to come under pressure from developers in the future and what might be achieved by requiring intending developers to rehabilitate at their expense if they want to develop rural land.

“My proposal promotes a solution to the significant loss of habitat due to rural and urban clearing over the last 50 years in South East Queensland,” Cr Champion said. All up there is potentially 10,000 ha across the Sunshine Coast under cane and including the Caloundra Downs land.

In the NORSROC Sub Regional Framework area (Pine Rivers through to Noosa), only 17 percent of the sub region is identified as having protective tenure. “This threatens our ability to provide a sustainable environment for future generations to enjoy.

“I’d suggest we need about 50 to 60 percent of South East Queensland in protective tenure to be sustainable but the scientists will have to determine the actual percentage, either way you don’t have to be a genius to realize only 17 percent is too low”, he said. “Everyone talks about environmental sustainability but most of the talk is simply about protecting what we have left, which is tokenism,” Cr Champion said. “Just protecting what’s left isn’t good enough, we need to replace what we’ve lost over the years.

“If we are to be genuinely sustainable we need to restore massive areas of land with native forests, mangrove habitat, rainforests and other types of vegetation cover that restores biodiversity in a sanctuary status,’’ he said. “There’s a lot of research and studies yet to be done but if we work together, we might avoid destroying what we came here to enjoy”.

“Every one in my community over the last 20 years have told me that we don’t want to be like the Gold Coast. This will be the difference between us and the Gold Coast” said Cr Champion. We’ll have the development but on our terms,” he said.

Our thanks once again to Cameron & Tanya Outridge
of the Range News Newspaper for this story.