Council recommends Scout land be added to Royal National Park

Sutherland Shire Council has recommended the former Scout land be acquired for addition to the Royal National Park.

On 10 November 2014, Council resolved to write to local state and federal parliamentarians asking them to support the acquisition of the former Scout land by the state government for addition to the surrounding Royal National Park.

The report adopted by Council, following public exhibition of the third draft local environment plan, included the following analysis:

The significant issue raised in submissions from the public, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and the Rural Fire Service (RFS) is the suitability of the site for eco-tourism development. The principal concerns are:

  • The ability of any eco-tourism development to provide for the bushfire protection measures necessary to protect such a development, particularly asset protection zones and access.
  • The environmental impact of the necessary bushfire protection works, in such an environmentally sensitive location.
  • That an eco-tourism development could not satisfy the zone objectives and other environmental controls in the draft LEP.

Given the site constraints and high conservation values of the site, there is considerable merit in providing opportunity for the State to acquire the land, if it became available. – Sutherland Shire Council

NSW OEH Submission

The OEH submission raises concerns in relation to the additional permitted use of ‘eco-tourist facility’ on the former Scout land at Bundeena.

In summary, the OEH recommends ‘that Council give much greater consideration to the proposal with a view to retaining the E2 zone across the site and deleting the relevant clauses in Schedule 1 that permit an eco-tourist facility with consent’.

 RFS Submission

“…it should be noted that development of the site for any purpose is problematic as the site is subject to a number of constraints. The site is subject to high bush fire risk and would require provision of appropriate Asset Protection Zones (APZs). Provisions of APZs may be difficult or impractical due to the presence of steep slopes and an Endangered Ecological Community. Additionally, road access to the site is not available at present”.

RVA Australia Pty Ltd (Owner of former Scout Land) Submission

The submission objects to the proposed E2 Environmental Conservation zoning of the property and adjoining paper roads, and advocates that they should be zoned RE2 private recreation.

The RVA submission also objects to the removal of ‘recreation camp’ as an Additional Permitted Use on their site under LEP3.

Report Conclusion

Given that the Rural Fire Service raise concerns even with the lower intensity ‘eco-tourist facility’ use to meet bushfire protection requirements, any previous assumption that a higher intensity use embodied by the ‘recreation camp’ definition could be developed on the site in a way which met the Rural Fire Service requirements, and was compatible with the environmental values of the site must be set aside.

As such, a ‘recreation camp’ cannot be reasonably considered as a viable use of the land, and as such it is arguable that its removal in practice is unlikely to have an impact on the ability of the land to be put to an economic use.

The land will remain zoned as E2 Environmental Conservation with “eco-tourist facilities” as an additional permissible use.

Council also adopted the following recommendation:

Recommendation: That Council write to State and Federal Members of Parliament seeking their help and support for the State to acquire the former Scout land at Bundeena so that it can be added to the Royal National Park. (Adopted, Council meeting, 10 Nov 2014).

What’s next?

The third draft Sutherland Shire Local Environment Plan (2013) is now with Pru Goward, NSW Minister for Planning, for her final approval. A number of unresolved issues have been referred to the Minister for her final determination, including the OEH objection to “eco-tourist facilities” as a permissible use of the former Scout land, and whether to extend this use onto the adjoining Sussex St unmade road reserve.