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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Minister rejects rezoning proposal

Media release
13 March 2009

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Environment Minister Peter Garrett has made a decision to ensure the future protection of the Booderee National Park by refusing a rezoning and development proposal at land near Jervis Bay, NSW.

Shoalhaven City Council proposed to rezone up to 1200 "Heritage Estates" allotments which were sold up to 20 years ago as rural land that could not be built on. The council proposal also included public infrastructure works.

"I know there is a long history to this proposed development and I'm aware of allegations that a number of landowners were led to believe they would be able to build on this land despite its rural zoning," Mr Garrett said.

"However, under the national environment law, I have decided that the proposed rezoning and development cannot proceed because of the unacceptable impacts on nationally threatened species and the ecological integrity of the nearby Booderee National Park.

"If this development were to go ahead it would have isolated Booderee National Park from important wildlife corridors that are critical to the survival of nationally protected plants and animals in the park and surrounding areas. These include the endangered eastern bristlebird, white-footed dunnart and the ground parrot.

"I am sympathetic to the many landowners affected by this decision and assure them that this has been a thorough and open process in which I've taken account of the formal scientific assessment, hundreds of public submissions and the expert advice of my department. I note that the consultant's report prepared for and submitted by the council also recommended against the proposed rezoning on environmental grounds.

"Additionally, I've considered the final comments from the council and I thank them for passing on informal submissions of landholders and other concerned residents.

"I understand this decision will disappoint people who purchased land hoping the zoning might one day be changed, but my responsibility under national environment law is to protect our environment and biodiversity, and that's what I've done.

"I urge property investors to exercise caution when purchasing land that might not be zoned for the purposes they intend to use it for or land that contains significant environmental values."

Commonwealth of Australia