Queensland environment groups call for moratorium on growth in SEQ (JUN)
Thursday, 14 June 2007
Environment groups meeting at Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast last
Sunday, 10th June, called for a moratorium on Local Growth Management
Strategies (LGMS’s) under the South East Queensland Regional Plan until after
the local government elections in 2008, when local residents would have the
chance to vote for candidates based on their views regarding growth.
One of Australia’s leading scientists and finalist for Queenslander of the Year,
Professor Ian Lowe, speaker at the weekend conference, said that the existing
SEQ Regional Plan accepts the irreversible destruction of SEQ’s lifestyle and
biodiversity. “Our unique local natural assets are being destroyed by over-
development,” said Professor Lowe.
The State Government’s SEQ Regional Plan is requiring 60,000 hectares of
farmland, open space and bushland to be bulldozed and concreted to
accommodate over 550,000 new homes.
According to Sunshine Coast Environment Council spokesperson Keryn Jones,
environment groups reject the irresponsible population growth targets set for the
region through the SEQ Regional Plan and call upon the State and local
governments to immediately halt further progress on their respective Local Growth
Management Strategies until communities are better informed.
“The LGMS’s are the most important planning documents we will see in our lifetime
as they will open up new suburban developments in areas previously inaccessible
to developers, lead to high rise in suburban areas, and tie the region into
irreversible growth,” said Ms Jones. “Injurious affection laws, unique to
Queensland, mean that once land uses have been given the green light it can
never turn to orange or red without attracting compensation payouts of many
millions of dollars.”
Simon Baltais, President of Sustainable Population Australia SEQ Branch said that
the fundamental weakness of the SEQ Plan is that it doesn’t recognise SEQ’s
limits to growth. “SEQ will become very ugly and crowded,” he said. “Naturally,
many are opposed to these strategies going ahead until the numbers are
reconsidered in light of recent carrying capacity studies.”
Simon Baltais: mob: 0412-075-445
Keryn Jones: mob: 0418-982-158
Background paper attached: appeal for moratorium on LGMS
Re: 5thJune 2007 World Environment Day
Appeal to the Queensland Government
Take Action on Climate Change and Coastal Development
The South East Queensland Regional Plan prepared by the Queensland
Government has a population target of 3.96 million people for the region by 2026,
up by almost 1.2 million from the 2.78 million current residents. In effect, this
represents an average growth rate of 50%, although Beaudesert and Ipswich face
100% growth, and several other areas (notably the Gold and Sunshine Coasts)
also face extremely high growth rates.
Research conducted by Queensland University in 1996 and on-going studies since
indicate that the population of South East Queensland already exceeds the area’s
sustainable carrying capacity. The current and likely to be chronic shortage of
water is the blatant and most pressing indicator, but there are others equally
important, such as 75km² of bushland and agricultural land being converted into
housing and other urban purposes each year.
The SEQ Regional Plan even acknowledges that at least an additional 60,000
hectares of land – approximately 12.6% of the total area of SEQ – will be
converted to urban use by 2026. We will build more roads but they will be more
congested and more public monies will be spent on trying to maintain basic
services diverting funds away from services that actually enhance our
communities. Currently, infrastructure grids, like those for water, are being set up
to support floundering infrastructure and services in other communities at the
expense of diluting the quality of life in others.
In the Gold Coast alone there are predicted to be an additional 116,900 dwellings
over the next 20 years, accommodating a projected additional 244,000 persons by
2026, over 40% in Greenfield, previously undeveloped, sites.
There is widespread and genuine community fear that these high population
targets will soon push ecosystems to that tipping point. We recognise that many of
our most profitable and sustainable industries and the health of our communities
are underpinned by these natural systems.
The escalating level of public disquiet over population growth in South East
Queensland and the fact that consultation during preparation of the SEQ Regional
Plan did not include consultation on population levels, should trigger a total
reconsideration of the South East Queensland Regional Plan and its population
The number of residents to be accommodated needs to be reconsidered in light of
the SEQ Regional Nature Conservation Strategy, biodiversity mapping, climate
change predictions of increased drought, bushfire and flood, and ecological
Further, supporters of continued growth must be required to provide evidence that
such growth is not having a negative impact upon SEQ residents and the
environment upon which it relies.
Once gazetted, the Local Growth Management Strategies (LGMS) which Councils
are currently required to prepare under the South East Queensland Regional Plan
will open up new areas for development and lock in the high population growth.
Our organisations reject the irresponsible and unsustainable population growth
targets set for the region through the South East Queensland Regional Plan.
Accordingly we the undersigned, representing our respective memberships, call
upon the State and local governments to halt immediately further progress on their
respective Local Growth Management Strategies until after:
1. an extensive review of the figures to be accommodated, considering: the
impacts of climate change on the Region (reduced rainfall, increased extremes
of risk of bushfire and flooding); the value and extent of the Region’s
biodiversity and other nature conservation values; the ecological services
provided by natural areas; and, the requirement for open space for both
residents and visitors.
2. an extensive community education campaign has taken place throughout 2007-
2008 to provide residents and ratepayers full disclosure and understanding of
the social, environmental and economic impacts that overpopulation has
already caused, and will continue to cause into the future;
3. the people of Queensland have had the opportunity to assess candidates on
their position on the population issue and the March 2008 local government
elections and Council amalgamations have occurred; and,
4. legislation is enacted to allow local governments to prohibit development and to
remove injurious affection from the development process.