Redland City Council proposes to strengthen protection of urban habitats and wildlife corridors

Council is proposing to amend Redland City Plan to strengthen protection of the most important urban habitats and wildlife corridors on Redlands Coast.

Mayor Karen Williams said the proposed stronger protections under the major amendment to Redland City Plan would be submitted to Planning Minister Steven Miles for State Interest Review before being released for public consultation.

“This is the first step in changing the City Plan to bring in stronger protections and will be followed by public consultation in which the community can have their say on this proposal,” she said.

“We expect that public consultation will commence early in 2022.”

Cr Williams said the amendment reflected the findings and recommendations of a review requested by Council in November 2020 of options to improve statutory land use planning protections to environmental corridors within the urban footprint, as identified in the Wildlife Connections Plan 2018-2028.

“The proposed changes will only affect parts of properties that are currently mapped as having local or state environmental values and are located in the urban footprint of ShapingSEQ,” she said.

“These amendments ensure that native vegetation clearing in the city’s most important urban habitat and corridors that connect them are mapped in City Plan through a new category of Matters of Local Environmental Significance (MLES) called wildlife core and habitat and are subject to a higher level of regulation in City Plan.

“In effect, this will remove existing native vegetation clearing exemptions in these important mapped urban habitats and corridors, making all such clearing assessable against the environmental significance overlay of City Plan.

“To support stronger protections in these important urban habitats, the amendment proposes new assessment criteria to clearly require that any proposed clearing firstly avoids clearing native vegetation within a mapped MLES wildlife core and corridor habitat.

“Where this is not reasonably possible, the clearing will need to be minimised and mitigated, and an offset provided for any unavoidable loss of native vegetation.

“The amendment is proposed to apply to just over 1000 privately owned properties, with another 1080 publicly-owned properties.”

Cr Williams said Council has provided in-principle support for assisting private landowners affected by the proposed amendment should it be introduced following public consultation.

“To recognise the contribution that affected private landowners make to the protection of the city’s environmental values, an environmental rate concession, tied to the environmental levy, for all private properties that pay a general rate included in the amendment is considered most appropriate,” she said.

“Council will also write to each private landowner to highlight the environmental management support and assistance currently provided under Council’s Environmental Partnership Program.

“The amendment also updates mapped Matters of State Environmental Significance (MSES) in City Plan to reflect changes made to this state mapping since the City Plan commenced in 2018.

“It also proposes some minor changes to mapped MLES to update this mapping, particularly in areas of Mount Cotton that no longer contain these values.”

Cr Williams said Council would provide updates and background information on the amendment to the community via a project page on its Your Say website.

“This will outline the proposed changes as well as highlight the future opportunities for the community to provide comments as part of the statutory public consultation process in 2022, following completion of the State interest review,” she said.