What the issue is
A proposed large housing development will destroy some of Callala Bay’s and the Shoalhaven’s unburnt forest and kill many endangered species living there. The development is presented as a "win-win for the community - potentially accelerating much-needed housing while protecting our pristine natural environment." (Department of Planning and Environment, 2022). But is it really a win-win for our community and the environment?
Time to Bust the Myths surrounding this claim while Callala’s community still has time to decide if another 380 houses is really what our village wants and needs.
CALL TO ACTION
Question the sales pitch. Learn the truth. And speak up with your opinion to the State Government by 5pm June 17 2022: https://pp.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/ppr/under-exhibition/planning- proposal-callala-bay-and-kinghorne-point-halloran-trust-lands-rezoning
Myth #1 - Developing Callala will help solve Shoalhaven’s housing crisis
Fact #1 - Shoalhaven urgently needs low-cost homes near transport and jobs.
Callala Bay’s bushland rezoning and development will NOT alleviate our region’s housing crisis. Instead, it will gradually release expensive land over 10-12 years. This real estate market strategy maintains high prices and targets the same affluent demographic already in Callala. Many investors will opt for holiday rental tenants rather than permanent residence as Callala is primarily and increasingly a tourist destination.
New housing IS urgently needed on cleared land, close to transport, jobs, high schools, shops and other services, as stated in the Jervis Bay Settlement Strategy (2003).
But a large housing development in Callala dramatically contradicts the Shoalhaven 2027 - Community Strategic Plan which states what the community has identified as being important:
Protection and restoration of the natural environment
Appropriate, sustainable development
Retain amenity of the area, keep the village feel
Restrict over-development in the coastal villages
Look after and improve where possible our unique environments
Development that is in keeping with our unique natural environment
Mitigate and adapt to climate change
Myth #2 – Developers will generously donate up to 1,081.57 hectares of land to National Parks
Fact #2 – To re-zone land, developers must by law ensure “no net loss” of habitat.
The Halloran land offered as a “biodiversity offset” is already deemed unsuitable for development under the Jervis Bay Settlement Strategy (2003) and Shoalhaven City Council’s policy not to develop new isolated residential areas. Therefore, protection of these areas is not actually protecting land from development. The aim of this Biodiversity Offset Scheme is to ensure developers “improve or maintain biodiversity value” by ensuring that another area of land is secured and managed to facilitate successful relocation of displaced species. However, this scheme is heavily criticised for being ecologically unrealistic and open to exploitation. The Halloran development plan to physically relocate habitat - including mature hollow-bearing trees - is not only fantasy but a futile attempt to divert from their stated assumption of “a complete loss of all biodiversity values” on the directly impacted 40.19ha development site.
Myth #3 - The development will comply with State and Local environmental assessment laws.
Fact #3 - The development relies on obsolete and incomplete data under the Biodiversity Offset Scheme which is currently under a Parliamentary Inquiry.
The Callala Bay Biodiversity Certification report by Eco Logical Australia (2019) is based on biological data collected in 2016/17 before the Currowan Bushfires (2019/20) where 80% of bushland was devastated across the Shoalhaven. East coast surveys since those bushfires show serious widespread decline of Yellow-bellied Gliders and Greater Gliders, a species already locally extinct from Booderee National Park and struggling to survive in Lake Conjola and Murramarang National Parks. Remaining unburned forests now have tremendous significance as wildlife refuges. Callala Bay’s tall coastal forest is particularly important for hosting healthy numbers of four species of gliding possums: Greater, Yellow-bellied, Sugar and Feathertail Gliders - plus countless other species of plants and animals dependent on this habitat.
The environmental assessment submitted by Eco Logical Australia used the flawed NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act “Biodiversity Offset Scheme” methodology that is currently the subject of a parliamentary inquiry to assess its integrity. In theory this scheme is meant to ensure “no net loss” and offsets allow developers to compensate for the environmental damage they cause in one area by undertaking work to deliver an equivalent environmental benefit in another. But offsetting is beset with problems, including a 20-year delay in delivering promised environmental protection and “double-dipping” by developers. In reality this scheme is flawed and has come under heavy criticism by environmental experts. Callala’s proposed residential development must be halted at least until these questions of science, planning and even corporate corruption are addressed.
Additionally, the federal government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) which is the main law that is supposed to protect and conserve the country’s important environmental ecosystems, including significant wildlife, plants, habitats and places was recently scrutinized by an independent reviewer and expert panel. The final report released in October 2020 found the following:
The EPBC Act is outdated and requires fundamental reform.
The EPBC Act does not enable the Commonwealth to effectively fulfill its environmental management responsibilities to protect nationally important matters.
The way the EPBC Act is implemented, results in piecemeal decisions.
The EPBC Act is a barrier to holistic environmental management.
The environment that we depend on, is suffering the death by a thousand cuts, quite literally.
Myth #4 – This is progress! There are plenty of trees so the animals can just live somewhere else.
Fact #4 – Forest cover is dramatically declining from urban sprawl and fire. Native fauna are territorial.
Land clearing in NSW has risen by nearly 60% since native vegetation conservation laws were relaxed in 2017, devastating wildlife and ecological diversity. Extinctions will dramatically escalate in Australia over the next two decades with at least 100 species at risk. Fauna and flora are often highly organised in their territories and do not easily transfer to another area. If animals and plants are not currently inhabiting an area, it is probably biologically unsuitable!
Callala Bay forest was spared during the 2019/2020 Currowan bushfire. But a horrifying 80% of the surrounding Shoalhaven habitat went up in flames, with the ecological impact of that event so enormous and unprecedented as to be impossible to calculate. This proposed area for development in Callala is crucial habitat for species including Greater Gliders, Yellow-bellied Gliders, Eastern Pygmy-possums, Powerful Owls, Glossy Black-cockatoos, Gang Gang Cockatoos, Grey-headed Flying-foxes and the Bauer’s Midge Orchids. Destroying some of our last remaining unburned forests in the Shoalhaven is not “progress” and we all bear a heavy responsibility to value and protect remaining healthy wildlife habitat for future generations.
The most crucial point is that Shoalhaven’s bushfires changed everything. Every tree and every animal counts! We are custodians of the environment for our future generations. If we don’t make a stand now to protect wild habitats, native species and our own backyards, they will be lost forever.
“It is no accident that the planet’s stability has wavered just as its biodiversity has declined – the two things are bound together. To restore stability to our planet, therefore, we must restore its biodiversity, the very thing we have removed. It is the only way out of this crises that we ourselves have created. We must rewild the world!”
Sir David Attenborough, A Life on Our Planet
CONTACT US at