WEPA recently held its 35th Annual General Meeting (21 March). President, Gay Spies provided members with a round-up of actions by the Executive over the past twelve months. She outlined a wide range of issues tackled during that time including:
- Earlier in the year WEPA members participated in meetings, demonstrations, petition writing and other forms of activism in opposition to the State Government’s Biodiversity Conservation package. We added WEPA’s voice to the almost 5,500 submissions which challenged the legislation.
Crown Land Reforms
- Concerns were raised in July 2016 about proposed changes to Crown Land management and fears that reforms would open up Crown Land (which includes over 70 packages such as parks and reserves in Willoughby) to sale and/or commercialisation.
- A WEPA submission was lodged in July to the NSW Parliamentary inquiry urging recognition of Crown Lands as vitally important to the ecological and social health of our neighbourhoods.
Greater Sydney Commission
- In July WEPA collaborated with the Lane Cove Bushland and Conservation Society to seek better community engagement with the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) prior to the release of the draft District Plans in November.
- WEPA committee members have since participated in a range of workshops and information sessions on the district plans. Gay noted that we appeared to be fortunate in having Deborah Dearing as the North District Commissioner. She has proven to be open and honest in her vision of the role of the GSC.
(WEPA made a submission to the GSC North District Plan at the end of March this year).
Channel 9 Development
- WEPA made a submission in August opposing any increase in the building storey height and apartment numbers of the proposed redevelopment on the Channel 9 site (6-30 Artarmon Road, Willoughby) above the 8 story and 400 apartment limits that were set by the Land & Environment Court and Planning Assessment Commission after extensive community consultation. Gay congratulated Bob Taffel for his advocacy on this matter.
Gore Hill submission
- In August, WEPA made a submission on the Draft Plan of Management and Landscape for the proposed Gore Hill redevelopment stressing the need to maintain mature native trees where possible and utilising native plants in landscaping.
- The proposed site for the sports centre has since been relocated in the plan.
Medium Density Housing submission
- In December WEPA commented on the draft Medium Density Housing Code which proposed the expansion of code-complying development for medium density housing (eg town-houses, two up/down) across all residential areas.
Willoughby Planning submission
- Most recently, WEPA provided WCC with comments on the Council Planning Strategy 2016-2036 and Willoughby Housing Position Statement.
- We stressed the need for Council to fully investigate the basis for the number of new dwellings proposed by the Government and to consider more fully the existing environmental qualities of the area in question and number and size of the proposed new open spaces.
- WEPA also commented on the preservation of heritage conservation areas, the lack of cycleway infrastructure and the needs of the disabled and elderly.
SOS Green Spaces Meeting
- WEPA members attended various SOS Green Spaces campaign meetings during the year and circulated information about the campaign to members.
- WEPA joined the Better Planning Network during the year.
- The NSW Government is proposing a number of significant changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Some changes of process are welcome but the Government has included proposals that threaten to override environmental protections, limit local planning powers and reduce transparency in decision making.
(WEPA subsequently made a submission on the proposed planning reforms at the end of March this year.)
Northern Beaches Tunnel
- Gay commented on the latest in a long line of proposals for a northern beaches road tunnel. She noted that the Castlecrag community had fought against earlier proposals which threatened to destroy bushland for the Warringah Freeway. The Premier has announced a tunnel to relieve congestion from the Northern Beaches (and open it up to further development).
- At this stage, the mapping released suggests the tunnel will go under Northbridge and Artarmon. There will be extensive tunnelling and stacks potentially placed on our green spaces. There are concerns that the plans as seen will permanently absorb Artarmon Park and a significant part of Artarmon Reserve.
WEPA Online communication
- The WEPA News and Bulletins are now sent electronically; the savings on postage is being put to other campaigns. Gay thanked Kathryn Foley who designed the news and bulletin and is instrumental in getting each issue out and Meredith Foley who prepares the content.
- WEPA also launched its new Facebook site last week. Go to https://www.facebook.com/wepa.org.au/ The Facebook site is designed to circulate material quickly to WEPA members and to reach a wider group within the WCC area.
- Business meetings were held bi-monthly during the year.
- Every second month, public meetings were held with speakers including Steve Austin on the use of canines for conservation; Andy Burton on local birds; and Dr Andrew Huggett on surveying fauna in the WCC area.
- A WEPA stall to provide information and collect petition signatures was included at the WCC Fauna Fair in March 2016.
- We also had a successful WEPA native plant stall during the WCC Spring Fair in September 2016. The Willoughby Spring Fair will now be known as the ‘Emerge Spring Festival’.
- Cotter Erickson spoke on behalf of the Executive in declaring that Gay was the heart and soul of WEPA. Gay thanked each of the members of the WEPA Executive for their contributions during the year.