Government Spends $2.2 Million To Protect Emerald Beach Coastal Land

(L to R) local residents Mark Ingleby and Steve Tucker, Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh and Simon Hemer from NPWS at Emerald Beach on Tuesday.

 

THE NSW Government has purchased more than 40 hectares of pristine coastal land on the Coffs Coast to protect the habitat of some of Australia’s most threatened species.

The Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said the Government had spent $2.2 million buying two properties at Emerald Beach.

These properties were bought under the Coastal Lands Protection Scheme, which is used to acquire coastal land for public access, scenic value or environmental protection.

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Mr Singh said, “Buying this land is an important step in conserving our native flora and fauna in the local area.

“The community raised their concerns about allowing development on this land, and I’m glad it has now been preserved in perpetuity on behalf of the taxpayer,” he said.

The NSW Government has also released the NSW Coastal Lands Protection Scheme Guidelines, which includes a nomination form, to make it easier to protect and preserve coastal land.

Rob Stokes, the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, said that the scheme, with an annual budget of $3 million, allows identification, acquisition and protection of pristine coastal land for “generations to come”.

He said that, since the scheme began in 1973, the Government has spent more than $60 million acquiring over 15,000 hectares of coastal land.

“The scheme guidelines are designed to encourage councils and the community to identify valuable public coastal assets for potential purchase and protection.”

Jonathan Cassell, a local Emerald resident and United Residents Group of Emerald (URGE) spokesperson said, “This news is a result of the work of the Emerald Beach community who have over many years fought against the inappropriate development of this land.

“We appreciate the state government negotiating with the land owner to secure this property, but we would also like the Minister to acknowledge the inherent weaknesses in the current planning scheme that might have allowed this land to be developed, despite its uniqueness as a rare coastal heathland.

“Without the strength of current councillors like Sally Townley, this could have been developed regardless of the risks associated with coastal inundation.

“This wetland ecosystem deserved to be protected years ago and now we can all celebrate the wonderful fact it is now in public hands,” he said.

Mr Stokes said that the buyback would help protect native animals as well as provide public open space for the local community.

“More than one-third of this land includes trees that are used as habitat by koalas.

“The buyback will also support other endangered and threatened species including the glossy black cockatoo, the square-tailed kite and squirrel glider,” he continued.

“Ultimately, this purchase safeguards the land from future development.”

More information, including the guidelines, is at www.planning.nsw.gov.au/coastallandsprotectionscheme.

 

By Andrew VIVIAN

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