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A section of Landing Lights Wetland.

The internationally significant Landing Lights wetland is currently threatened by development, even though it is Crown Land.  I wrote about the threat to the this very important wetland here – http://bit.ly/2jey4Xi

Bayside Council says, “To celebrate the completion of the Federal Government grant for Landing Lights Bayside Council will be hosting a community planting day.  This is a great opportunity to be part of the improvement of the biodiversity of the wetlands, by helping put some plants along the boardwalk “to create more native habitat & protect the salt marsh community.”

WHEN:          Friday 2nd June 2017

TIME:             10am – noon.
WHERE:        Landing Lights Wetland – enter from West Botany Street opposite Spring Street Banksia.
Wear appropriate clothing & shoes & bring drinking water.   Phone 9562 1703 for more information.

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A section of Landing Lights Wetland.

A small section of Landing Lights Wetland.

A view into the very large Spring Street Wetlands, which were officially opened in 1994.

A view into the very large Spring Street Wetlands, which were officially opened in 1994.  They have been deemed of “limited ecological value.”  Who decided this I don’t know.

Raised boardwalk Landing Lights Wetland with sign listing bird species in this area.

Raised boardwalk Landing Lights Wetland with a sign listing the bird species that live in this area.

Some local news to make you gasp.

Developer John Boyd Properties wants to have the Kogarah Golf Course moved so that they can build a 100-hectare development featuring 5,000 new dwellings & a new St George Stadium sports stadium at a cost of $100 million.  A development application was submitted to Bayside Council in November 2016.  See – http://bit.ly/2j6sY3e

“Peter Munro from the Cooks River Valley Association said there were two key issues: the impact of development on local species, and the alienation of public land“It’s such a fragile area,” he said. “Botany Bay and its environs contain some of the most important natural but threatened sites on the NSW coast, made all the more remarkable by the fact that the Bay is one of the more developed landscapes in Sydney. “Also once it becomes a golf course, there’s no broad community access. It’s closed to the public.”

The relocated golf course will be built “across 52 hectares of parkland in the southern precinct of the Cook Cove site, which takes in Barton Park, a number of wetlands, and the heritage-listed Arncliffe Market Gardens.”

To soften the community the developers say they will build a public walkway through the golf course, a bird-watching space near the Landing Lights Wetlands & ponds for the green & golden bell frogs.  The M5 6-lane motorway is expected to go through this area.

In the Development Application, the Spring Street Wetland was deemed of “limited ecological value” & so will be removed. This area is thick with trees & mangroves.  If you stand & listen, you can hear the tweeting of many little birds.  This habitat is perfect for them.  Undoubtedly other wildlife calls this area home, but I have not walked through this wetland.

The developer says that they will remediate Landing Lights Wetland, the surrounding saltmarsh & mangroves thereby creating new habitat for endangered green & golden bell frogs & migratory wading birds.

The fact is that all the wildlife that use & fly across the world from as far away as Siberia to the Landing Lights Wetland are doing really well without human intervention. Yes, many years ago a couple of roads have been built & there is a run-down empty stadium, but on the whole, the land has been left alone for decades, apart from remediation efforts by the council & the community.

Bayside Council (nee Rockdale Council) says on their website –

  • “Although highly urbanised, the City has retained several small bushland and wetland areas which play an important role in terms of providing food, habitat and shelter for native animals. These areas are deemed to have ‘conservation value’ (meaning they are worth preserving for future generations) because they represent ecosystems that would otherwise be lost.”
  • “These remaining natural areas are home to particularly diverse, endangered and/or vulnerable species of flora and fauna. A total of 180 native plant species and over 90 vertebrate species of terrestrial animals (not including marine fish) have been identified in the City’s bushland and wetlands.”
  • “Landing Lights Wetland (also known as Riverine Park Wetlands), located at Spring Street, Banksia is one of Council’s most environmentally significant natural areas. The site contains some of the last remaining saline wetlands on the Cooks River and includes vegetation identified as threatened under NSW legislation (salt-marsh).”
  • “The wetlands have aesthetic, heritage and environmental value. They form part of a system of tidal and freshwater swamps, and provide important habitats for a variety of animal and plant species, including common wetland birds and a number of protected migratory birds.”

I presume the birds, frogs & other wildlife will need to fit in to pockets created in the new golf course.  Seriously, how will this work?  How will they save & relocate the green & gold frog?  How will migratory birds adapt so fast to radical changes to their habitat that has been here for thousands of years?

The developer also says this area contaminates the Cooks River.  The Cooks River is contaminated by storm water outlets along the length of the river.  However, wetlands that have been here for thousands of years naturally & perfectly clean the water before it reaches Botany Bay.  I cannot see why it wouldn’t do the same for any water that goes from the wetlands to the river either.   It would be horrible to leave all the other pollution problems of the river as is & destroy remnant wetlands in the name of improving the water quality of the river.

This wet & boggy land will need to be filled in to allow people to play golf.    To me this is a tragedy.  Why is this precious remnant wetland even up for development? 

I understand the concerns of the Kogarah Golf Club for their security of tenure, as they rent from Sydney Airport & Bayside Council.   Their website says they have “been in existence for over 80 years,” so tenure seems pretty solid.    What is unfortunate is that the golf course has temporarily lost 9-holes to the building of the M5 twin tunnels as part of connecting the WestConnex motorway. There will also be a ventilation stack within the golf course, which is not good.   However, it comes down to a ventilation stack in a golf course or a ventilation stack in amongst high-rise housing.

And then there are the trees.   Like any golf course, Kogarah Golf Course has possibly thousands of trees & some of these trees are spectacular & should be classified as ‘significant’ & protected.  Many of these trees will likely be lost to high-rise development.   This whole green space will be lost to development.

It’s not a good counterargument to say that there will be new trees in the new golf course.  It takes time for new trees to grow & importantly, the destruction of remnant biodiversity rich wetlands for a golf course is a patently poor exchange.

In reality, all this environmental destruction will be happening so a developer can sell apartments that have water views of the Cooks River, Wolli Creek, Muddy Creek & of Botany Bay.  Water views spell MONEY – big money.  

My impression of Bayside Council when I have spoken with them is that they are fiercely protective & proud of their natural environment.  Their website confirms this.  They have done some brilliant work along the Wetland Highway & Botany Bay.  My hope is that Bayside Council refuse this development application, protect Landing Lights Wetland & the other wetlands & allow them to remain undeveloped into perpetuity.

Our city is changing fast & it is likely that in the next 10-15 years our suburbs will contain more high-rise than not.  Pockets of biodiversity rich habitat will become even more precious & rare.  These places will be vitally important to help the wildlife survive – else there will be very little of worth & no connectivity & we as a community will be much poorer as a result.

If you want to learn more & see the natural landscape that is at risk, you can watch ‘The Corridor.’  “The Corridor” explores the conflict between our desire to hold on to natural areas and the ever-pressing push for development, concentrating on one location, and one road.  The location is Rockdale, NSW, Australia. The road is the F6 extension.”  This video was made in 2015 before the issue of 5,000 new dwellings & the relocation of the golf course was publically raised.  It’s an interesting & informative video with anti-development & pro-development sides represented & is well worth watching.    – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDFXrqs5E-Q

You can download the development proposal here – http://bit.ly/2iORRgI While it all looks & sounds great, no new development can ever replace the wild nature of remnant lands.

Anyone can put in a submission regarding this development application because it is significant to the whole of Sydney.  You can send a submission to Bayside Council at council@bayside.nsw.gov.au quoting ‘DA-2017/179.’  The deadline for submissions is Friday 27th January 2017.  

DA image of relocation of Kogarah Golf Course.

DA image of relocation of Kogarah Golf Course.  The top shows the current location of the Kogarah Golf Course & the bottom image shows where it will be relocated to if the Development Application is approved by Bayside Council.  The land for the relocated golf course is massive & will require the destruction of biodiversity rich wetlands.  What is now 52 hectares of public land will be a private golf course & the current golf course will be high-rise housing.  This is not a win for the community, but more especially, it is devastating for the wildlife.

The current Kogarah Golf Course is just across the river from Sydney Airport. While we were on the southern side just outside the golf course, we could hear the planes revving loudly. It made us wonder how people could live here. The noise would be intolerable in our opinion.

The current Kogarah Golf Course is just across the river from Sydney Airport. While we were on the southern side just outside the golf course, we could hear the planes revving loudly.  It made us wonder how people could live here. The noise would be intolerable in our opinion.

Sign in the Riverine Parklands warming people of a massive fine or 2 years imprisonment if they damage the habitat in this location.

Sign in the Riverine Parklands warming people of a massive fine or 2 years imprisonment (or both) if they damage the habitat in this location, yet developers want this land to build a golf course.

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