10 August 2015
Security personnel prevented Greens Clr Hillary Morris, Greens MP David Shoebridge and residents from Mooney Mooney from accessing public land last Friday, August 7th, as they sought to examine Peat Island as part of a campaign to stop the overdevelopment of the gateway to the Central Coast.
In 2014 the State Government placed on display a planning proposal to sell Peat Island and surrounding public land, with plans for over 400 residences, a shopping centre and petrol station covering most of the visible land on the point and the Island. Gosford Council endorsed the plan in December 2014, although Hillary Morris and Labor Councillor Vicki Scott voted against it, and it has been sitting with the State government ever since.
Greens representatives met with Mooney Mooney residents on Friday to discuss the delayed proposal, and examine alternative uses for the land. Although access to the Island had been arranged, at the last minute the representative from the Department of Lands was not able to make the meeting. That didn’t stop security personnel from attempting to prevent the group from even accessing open public land where residents routinely walk their dogs.
Clr Hillary Morris and the Central Coast Greens are determined to keep Peat Island and Mooney Mooney from overdevelopment. These lands represent a unique and beautiful area that is valued for its natural assets and unique village style communities. Protection of the local environment is vital and the retention of the bushland areas which greet travellers as they cross the Hawkesbury is important for the local residents and the impact this makes as the gateway to the Coast. The ALP came out in support of the campaign during the election.
The public space could be redeveloped to provide for the existing identifiable community needs which include small scale commercial/retail facilities, passive recreation and sporting facilities, community meeting places and local services. Instead the State Government is determined to sell-off of public lands and enrich property developers, under the guise of providing community facilities. However, adding 400 more households to the area will not fix the existing problems. There may be potential capacity issues with local infrastructure including access to the train station, power, sewerage and telecommunications. Noise from the M1 is also an existing issue.
On the other hand, the heritage values of the area are very high, including Peat Island and local Aboriginal remains. They are valued by the local community as well as being important for NSW. It is believed that there are numerous graves on Peat Island, from its days as a hospital for the mentally ill.
There are excellent opportunities for tourism, particularly if it is in keeping with the unique environment and contributes to the recognition of local heritage. A marina that accommodates local river users is generally supported by the Greens, but not one built on mudflats as in the State Government proposal, although public access to the waterfront for passive recreation is essential.
“Peat Island is an ideal opportunity for the State Government to provide a tourist hub for the Hawkesbury River. It could provide accommodation for tourists and services for the local community. It could be an amazing place for visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of both our national parks and inlets.” Said Clr Hillary Morris.
“Peat Island is a pristine piece of public land and rather than opening the area up for public access the Baird Government is planning to sell it off for private development and private profit.
“The current planning proposal for Peat Island is so flawed and complex that it’s been stuck with the Department of Planning for more than 9 months now.
“The government and Gosford council need to take a step back and commit to a fresh plan that preserves Peat Island’s public space and heritage values.??”This is a unique opportunity for Peat Island to be opened up for sensitive tourism that promotes the site’s natural beauty, history and heritage. This would increase local employment and still leave opportunities for smaller scale residential development.??”Peat Island and its surrounds is rich with history and high in conservation value, it needs to be protected and preserved for the public not destroyed for developer-driven profits. ” Mr Shoebridge said.
Councillor, Gosford City Council