Cumberland State Forest
In August 2019, The Forestry Corporation NSW submitted a planning proposal 13/2019/PLP to rezone and sell for housing development, 2 blocks of land currently contained within the Cumberland State Forest. If approved, this would set a dangerous precedent for selling off other blocks in the future. Rezoning would result in the loss of Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest.
13th April 2021
The proposal was discussed at the Council Meeting on 13th April 2021. It was decided to defer any decision on the planning proposal to a later date, because the forest is currently being considered for National Park status. The WPHVPA Vice-President addressed the Council Meeting:
'On behalf of the West Pennant Hills Valley Progress Association, I urge all Councillors to reject this Planning Proposal.
Spot rezoning is inconsistent with Council’s Strategic Plan.
Reducing our tree canopy is inconsistent with Council’s Strategic Plan.
The State Government is currently considering turning Cumberland State Forest into a National Park. It is inappropriate to support rezoning and selling-off parts of the forest before a decision about transferring it to National Park status has been made.
The argument that the proposal only affects land that is currently not accessible to the public is irrelevant. If the land is rezoned and sold for development, the public will never have access. But if Cumberland State Forest becomes a National Park, the public could have access to this land.
There is a suggestion that funds from the sale could be used to benefit Cumberland State Forest. But it is just a suggestion. There is no certainty that the funds will be used in this way. There is no certainty that the funds will be used to benefit the environment anywhere in NSW.
The proposed rezoning requires the removal of:
0.16ha of Blue Gum High Forest
0.29ha of Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest
That’s a total of 0.45ha.
Both Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest are listed as Critically Endangered Ecological Communities (CEEC) under the NSW Government Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
The only category worse than ‘Critically Endangered’ is ‘Extinction’
When the planning proposal for 55 Coonara Avenue was considered by DPIE last year, the proponent had to reduce the development footprint in order to avoid clearing Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest.
If DPIE wouldn’t allow Mirvac to clear CEEC on private land, we question why Council would consider allowing CEEC to be cleared on a chunk of the Cumberland State Forest.
Cumberland State Forest is already a very small forest. Let’s not make it any smaller.
The CEEC trees only need to be cleared if the land is rezoned. Please save these critically endangered trees by saying no to this proposal.
Thank you on behalf of the residents of West Pennant Hills Valley.'
Following the Council Meeting, the Committee made a statement to the press:
'We are pleased that Council chose not to approve forwarding the planning proposal to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment for a Gateway Determination until a decision has been made by the State Government about making CSF a National Park. However, given the areas proposed for rezoning contain Critically Endangered Ecological Communities (CEEC), we feel that a better decision would have been to reject the proposal outright and not just hold it in abeyance. Whilst we hope that elevating CSF to a National Park should give the forest, including the Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest CEEC that it contains, the best possible long-term security, we do not think that it is relevant to judging the current rezoning proposal. We believe that the proposal is wrong whether it becomes a National Park or stays a State Forest. The status of the CEEC under the NSW Government Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 should guide the decision irrespective of whether it is State Forest or a National Park. We will continue our fight to preserve all CEEC in our area.'
There are 10 documents for this proposal, plus a letter from Matt Kean, NSW Environment Minister:
Letter From Matt Kean re possibility of National Park status for CSF
Documents for 13/2019/PLP:
Biodiversity Assessment Report (revised September 2020)
Castle Hill Rd bushfire protection measures
Castle Hill Rd subdivision stage 1
Castle Hill Rd subdivision stage 2
Oratava Ave bushfire protection measures
Oratava Av subdivision stage 1
Oratave Ave subdivision stage 2