2022 – March Report by Lois Levy
March Campaign Report 2022
Volunteers are wanted to help with all these campaign actions.
Submissions due – nil
Gecko Campaigns groups the matters that arise under four broad headings of climate change; biodiversity; protection of public open space; liveability and planning sustainability.
Strategy:- Goals – to increase public awareness; maintain research of Climate Council and Skeptical Science websites; investigate involvement in the GC student strike movement ; to develop a strategy to request a council/community climate action strategy.
GCCAN– Gecko will assist with publicizing the School Climate Strike being organized for 25th March at Jack Evans Harbour by a NSW school student. The floods have made organizing any march of any size impossible, but this effort deserves support.
Beacon project – Griffith Uni Beacon Team have asked that Gecko partner with them to host a webinar in March on the update to the IPPC Report specifically to our region. This is likely to be 31st March. Names of possible panellists were discussed.
Climate Action NOW signs – These will be distributed in the north of the city and other areas affected by floods. These are available at Gecko House now for people to put up in legal prominent places. A register must be signed when taking the signs so they can be tracked.
Coomera Connector: Gecko reps attended a Koala Management Strategy meeting with others involved in the Coomera Connector project. The issue of Spotter Catcher practices following removal of wildlife from development sites was discussed and the Spotter Catcher Code will be provided to the relevant companies. The issue of financial support to volunteer wildcare groups was said to be the responsibility of the infrastructure construction companies. Some 79 koalas have been tagged in the Stage 1 area so far and 54 in Stage 2 area. Many of the southern koalas have chlamydia and required treatment before being released. It is essential that all koalas released into the offset areas are disease free. BAAM (Biodiversity Assessment and Management Pty Ltd) has been appointed to find land suitable for offsets to the habitat destroyed by the road. The Public Environment Report is still a work in progress with sections being assessed by the Federal Dept. of Environment. A new project manager has been appointed for Stage 1.
Light Rail Stage 4 – The appointment for Gecko to meet with both the Minister for Main Roads and Transport and the Minister for Environment was cancelled due to the impact of the floods on these portfolios. We will await for a new date in a few months’ time. TMR are surveying the route.
Koala Forum: Gecko has been invited to attend a Coomera Koala Conservation Forum on 28th March which will discuss the strategies used by Federal, State and Local Government to protect the endangered koala on the Gold Coast. Protecting the remaining koalas in an area of high population growth which has also been subjected to bushfires and floods as well as development is a huge challenge.
Tourism in national parks: Gecko is has started planning for a forum on the impact of commercial tourism development in national parks. This will be held on Saturday 4th June at Robina Community Centre and is a follow up to the 2021 forum. There is Australia wide concern about the proliferation of commercial development in national parks.
Nerang National Park: Gecko was represented at Stakeholder group meeting recently and joins with other conservation groups in insisting that mountain bike trails are confined to Visitor Zone 5 map where the trails were built for the Commonwealth Games. The Indigenous groups are supporting this stand especially as the Mountain Bike Club wants to retain the “Lost World” trail through the most ecologically sensitive area in Visitor Zone 2 map, because it is a trail of international interest. Discussions are ongoing.
Tree Canopy Report: It is hoped that a speaker from Council will present progress on this Report at Gecko talks in early 2022. It is a very important initiative to combat heat stress from climate change.Gecko is still waiting for an answer from Council asking about the status of implementation of this report. There are some good recommendations about changes to the planning system to protect trees. https://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/documents/bf/urban-tree-canopy-study.pdf
Council Review of Our Natural City Strategy. Grounded Consultants will get this consultation out to the general public in 2022. We are also waiting on the Threatened Species Plan.
Water Mining Moratorium for Springbrook and Mt Tambourine: A response from the Minister indicates that this moratorium will continue until the university study into the impact of water mine bores on ecology is completed.
Ground Water Extraction at Springbrook (GWE). The court case was postponed due to a new report being submitted by the applicant at the last minute. This report now needs to be examined by the Respondent experts. The court hearing may be held in late May or early June.
Public Open Space
Currumbin Eco-Park –
An email has been received from the project officer which indicated that progress on face to face consultation has been delayed by the floods. Additional information should be on the website shortly https://haveyoursay.dsdilgp.qld.gov.au/currumbin-eco-parkland .Gecko is also calling for ecological studies to be updated prior to any further consultation so that we know what is there which needs to be protected.
Rock View Park, Palm Beach Spit – Gecko has had a meeting with Council officers about this small Oceanside park and confirmed that they are considering removing bushland planted by volunteers along the spit area to make a picnic areas. An ecology study has been done by BIOME, but is not available to the public yet. Gecko will join with other local groups in ensuring this small, but important habitat area is protected. There will be some public consultation. This situation is a direct result of Councillors failing to use the open space levy to purchase sufficient public open space over the past decade and now land prices are too high.
The Spit Master Plan – The consultation regarding Federation Walk Coastal Reserve will continue this week and it appears that Council officers and the conservation movement have diametrically opposed views. Gecko is opposed to the suggestions of car parks, picnic areas and concrete paths in the Coastal reserve. Council was not fully engaged in The Spit Master Plan process and appears determined to override it.
Bar on the Beach trial for Kurrawa Beach will continue until mid-March as the first 6 weeks were so wet that Council said reliable statistics could not be obtained. Gecko has written to the Deputy Premier and Minister for Environment outlining our opposition to this proposal. Gecko remains opposed to this beach bar, because of the precedent issue and because it is contrary to Local Law 10 and the Coastal management Policy. Many overseas countries are removing their bars on beach because of problems with rubbish and bad behaviour. Gecko has written to the Central Chamber of Commerce asking for their views since the beach bar is unfair competition with some of their members offering the same services. Council does not have State Government permission for this beach bar and is pretending that it is an event on the beach to get around this.
Liveability and a Green City
Amendments 2 &3 to the City Plan and other planning matters: Gecko attended a Zoom meeting hosted by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) at which it was stated that the Amendment package was not likely to be implemented till July 2022 with whatever changes the Dept. of Planning consider necessary. Gecko is working with the Community Alliance to get discussion happening with amendments 4 and 5 which will begin with matters relating to heritage and road widening and the neighbourhood framework. No-one in Council appears to be championing sustainability in development. Council officers spoke enthusiastically about the success of their 2 citizen based community reference groups in relation to development along the route of Stage 3 Light Rail. We await the outcomes. Council Officers also discussed the residential land review underway, an industrial development area investigation and the Gaven North and Highland Park Investigation areas.
The Infrastructure Plan is also under review as it is not keeping up with population growth and no doubt the floods will influence this. They are reviewing the Flood Code with new data and may have a forum mid-year. The Shaping SEQ Regional Plan is due for review and will feed into a review of GC City plan due by 2026.
Oxenford Quarry –. The company has lodged an appeal in the Planning and Environment Court and in the meantime Council has agreed to the quarry continuing to operate with stricter conditions for the next 2 years during the likely time period for the appeal. 24 Residents Against the Quarry Expansion are co-respondents and have sought legal advice about the extension of time.
The Community Alliance: A Palm Beach-Elanora Community group has formed and is focussed on gathering more members to become an incorporated group. The current focus is opposition to a development on corner of GC Highway and Palm Beach Ave, with a subgroup to focus on greening the suburbs. There are now about 300 people on the group’s data base. The Community Alliance will endeavour to set up more community groups throughout the city in the next two years. CA is seeking a meeting with Minister for Planning, Stephen Miles in the near future.
SEQ Community Alliance is another group of which Gecko is a member and we are assisting in planning a forum on the much needed reforms to the Planning Act.
Strategic Planning for the Campaign Team: Strategies for each of the goals are being developed and the update to the website for each area of endeavour is nearly complete.
We value that:-
All life on Earth has a right to exist in reasonable conditions and humans should not have the right to exploit other species or destroy their habitat.
Our work should be based on known science, respect for life and respectful communication with others
The work of other conservation and community groups and the opportunities for mutual support are recognised and appreciated.
Proactive work is preferable to reactive work
Goals: The Team’s goals for the four main areas of endeavor of Climate change; Biodiversity; public open space; planning.
Climate Change – to advocate, for effective action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to all levels of government and within all sectors of the community for the benefit of all living species.
Biodiversity – to advocate for the protection of all native species through increases in the extent of protected areas, such as land and marine national parks and conservation reserves, and improved funding for effective management. Better legislation is also needed for all areas of development.
Public Open Space – to advocate for the protection and increase of public open space and its vegetation for the health and well-being of the growing population. Further to advocate for the implementation of an urban forest policy and register of the city’s significant trees.
Livability and a Green City – to advocate for the adoption of sustainability objectives in city planning, infrastructure provision and development to ensure a livable and attractive city for residents and visitors.
New Portfolios Queensland State Cabinet: https://cabinet.qld.gov.au/ministers.aspx
Minister for Environment, Great Barrier Reef and Science, Megan Scanlan; Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey; Minister for Tourism Industry Development and Innovation and Minister for Sport, Stirling Hinchliffe; Minister for Resources, Scott Stewart; Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Michael de Brenni; Deputy Premier; Minister for State Development , Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, Stephen Miles.
A voice for the environment
Gecko campaigns on 4 core themes:
- Climate change/ global warming – to which we all contribute by our lifestyle choices, affects every aspect of our lives. Gecko’s Campaigners advocate for effective action at government and community level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Biodiversity Protection by working to protect our unique native plants and animals in conservation reserves, national parks, waterways and other areas.
- Protection of public open space by advocating for low impact use of conservation reserves, natural and recreational areas and expansion of these to keep pace with population growth for the health and wellbeing of our residents.
- Good planning for the present and future by working to maintain and sustain the liveability and attractiveness of the city through the implementation of fair and just planning legislation to deliver a clean, green city.