22nd September signs that Tony Burke is listening. WSCA had been lobbying Tony Burke for nearly two years to ensure guarantees in place that all of the promised $530 million conservation fund be spent within Western Sydney to protect bushland remnants promised as offsets.
On 22nd December, the Western Sydney Conservation Alliance (WSCA) cautiously welcomes the announcement today by Tony Burke that he will sign off on the Strategic Assessment of the Sydney Growth Centres. WSCA had been lobbying Tony Burke for nearly two years warning him not to rush in and sign off on the plan unless guarantees were in place to ensure that all of the promised $530 million conservation fund (the money promised to offset the destruction of 2000 ha of bushland within the growth centres) was spent entirely within Western Sydney protecting bushland remnants promised as offsets.
The NSW Government had been shifting towards raiding this $530 million conservation offset fund and spending up to 75% of it outside of Western Sydney in order to get more bang for its buck.
"Tony Burke has listened to our concerns about this looming rip-off and has inserted new conditions into the plan guaranteeing that the entire $530 million fund would be spent in western Sydney. This may have saved thousands of hectares of rare bushland from the O'Farrell Government who intended to raid the $530 million conservation fund and spend it outside of western Sydney. The O'Farrell Government has a plan to increase urban sprawl in Western Sydney beyond development within the Growth Centres and that would have been made all the more easier if the majority of the $530 million fund disappeared from western Sydney.
Thanks to local Labor members
We specifically thank local Labor Members: Michelle Rowland, David Bradbury and Ed Husic for helping to stop this rip-off. They shared in our concerns about the inequity of the NSW Governments plans.
We believe the new conditions insisted upon by Tony Burke include that all the $530 million be spent in western Sydney and that only in exceptional circumstance could it be considered going off the Cumberland Plain to acquire offset lands. That exceptional circumstance would have to be approved by a new committee."
"That committee needs to be thoroughly transparent and it would be good if the community had a say in any decisions."
Growth Centers remain on-course for environmental disaster
"We must not lose sight though that the Sydney Growth Centres is an environmental disaster that will clear about 2000 ha of endangered woodland including about 9% of all remaining Cumberland Plain Woodland. So this announcement, whilst promising much in terms of a future conservation fund, also heralds the destruction of large areas of western Sydney's irreplaceable natural heritage"
Comments: Geoff Brown President WSCA - 0431 222602 www.wsca.org.au
Western Sydney Conservation Alliance Inc
22nd December 2011
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