Conservation claims require comment

Thank you for reporting the Joint Regional Planning Panel hearing of the development application for a three-storey nursing home on rare endangered bushland.
Your article reported developer Mr Doug Thompson claiming he was a conservationist, a comment ignored by the panel members on the night, but not ignored by the public and one that requires comment in opposition.
Objector Ms Charmaine Beckett’s presentation about the ecologically endangered UCSW on site seemed irrelevant to Mr Thompson – which can be verified by the meeting’s recordings.
If Mr Thompson was a conservationist as claimed, I would expect that he would have taken action weeks, perhaps months, before the Panel hearing to ensure conservation was a strength of the proposed development.
Instead Mr Thompson waited until negotiations began between the Panel, the development team and Council staff to alert him to the fact that there were serious conservation issues yet to be addressed.
One issue has been reported, being the use of exotic species.
The other serious issue, not reported, is the removal of the boardwalk in the midst of an endangered ecological community.
That this development was supported in the council assessment in the midst of the UCSW indicates the disregard for ecology and the overwhelming support for development.
The interest of Mr Thompson was not alerted to the approved boardwalk development until the last stages of the development assessment process.
This is definitely not the actions of a sworn conservationist.
If you are not convinced, listen to a recording of the meeting.
Another issue not discussed at the hearing is why the proponent did not downscale the development to ensure protection of the UCSW.
Removal of a tree, questioned by Ms Beckett, raises questions about the ecological management of the site, over the long term.
This is an issue that requires specialist advice, which was not provided to or available to the Panel.
The issue of ecological character was not addressed by Mr Thompson and the large development team – again, a failing that a recognised conservation supporting developer would not make.
A full transcript of the hearing would have Peninsula News readers claiming the report was all fiction.
You had to be there to believe it was all true.
The attendance of Mr Thompson at the hearing was to showcase the development, and was fully exploited by the development team at every opportunity.

Letter, 30 Jan 2019
Norman Harris, Umina

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