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Scotland Island - Western Shores - Mackeral Beach

- September 2007 -

Newsletter for Offshore Residents of Pittwater, Australia  Volume 9, Issue 246 September 2007     


Public Exhibition of the Mackerel Beach report

The following information hopefully provides clarification regarding the Public Exhibition of the Mackerel Beach report.

The issue of companion animal management at Mackerel Beach, in particular the management of dogs, required clarification and better definition. This is necessary at Mackerel Beach as there is a need to consider community concerns regarding dog control in the context of the overall bushland and beach amenity and the general access arrangements to public and private properties.

The following issues have been raised frequently in submissions to Council:

Why was it necessary to clarify where dogs are intended to be permitted at Mackerel Beach and to introduce the proposed management arrangement?

It was identified that there was an over-zealous provision in Council's Planning Control in that the part of the DCP covering Mackerel Beach, if administered 'to the letter of the law', would have precluded dog owners from being able to access their properties at Mackerel Beach with their dogs i.e. the Wildlife Protection Areas at Mackerel Beach also took in the road reserves, which obviously was not the intention and clearly would have been completely impractical to manage.

Clarification of where dogs are intended to be permitted at Mackerel Beach and under what management arrangements

In order to correct this oversight, it was considered that dogs be permitted on all road reserve locations provided that they are on a lead and under direct effective control. The areas where this applies includes the internal grassed public road reserves and the road reserve strip along the beachfront/foreshore. Further, noting the difficulty in delineating the land ownership distinction along the beachfront (split ownership of Council and Crown) and for ease of interpretation and management (by dog owners and compliance officers) the beach/foreshore location was taken as the land from the private waterfront property boundaries to the water's edge (noting the tidal range) and in lateral extent to the ends of the existing runs of private properties. This arrangement does not permit dog swimming but does facilitate the transfer of dogs from boats onto the beach and then to other destinations, again providing the dog(s) is on a lead and under direct effective control.

Clarification of Wildlife Protection areas at Mackerel Beach

Separate to the road reserves discussed above, at Mackerel Beach there are two Council owned land parcels that adjoin private property and the National Park. These parcels have basically the same natural biophysical attributes as the National Park and as such needed an equivalent level of wildlife protection. The state government relies on local government to ensure that the uses of adjoining public open space are compatible with the ongoing effective management of the adjacent national park. For this reason these parcels are proposed to be designated as Wildlife Protection Areas. As such these are areas where dogs are not permitted, as is the case within the National Park.

Why the suggestion of dedication of Council Wildlife Protection Area lands to the National Park (note, this does not include the road reserves)?

Noting the similarities of wildlife protection status on Council's land and those that apply to the National Park it was seen that there may be merit in having singular land tenure and management arrangements for what is ostensibly the same bushland of high ecological value but currently owned by different government agencies. Why duplicate management arrangements and have two separate organisations a seeking to achieve basically the same outcomes? It was for this reason that the Wildlife Protection Area land parcels at Mackerel Beach were suggested to form part of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Why was there an attached letter to the Minister?

Because of the current status of the Council owned land (which is subject to a Deed of Trust with the Ministerial Corporation), it was noted that the relevant State Government Minister, in this case the Hon. Frank Sartor, Minister for Planning, would be required to advise as to whether lifting the restrictions on Council's land could be considered. This is a necessary first step to determine whether it is legally possible for Council to dedicate the land as part of the national park. To correct a current misconception in the community, it should be noted that the subject letter has, in fact, not been sent to the Minister, however it does outline Council’s intended request of the Minister and as such is included as part of the current community consultation package.

Why reference to other Western Foreshore locations?

Given that other Western Foreshore settlements have similar issues as identified at Mackerel Beach it was foreshadowed that similar issues may arise. However the focus at this stage was Mackerel Beach. The other settlements would be the subject of further analysis, in conjunction with the community as to what should be Wildlife Protection Areas and whether to include such areas in the National Park.

What lands are generally intended to form part of further discussion?

Across the Western Foreshores there are multiple individual parcels of land of varying sizes and shapes that are either in private ownership, owned by Council or the National Park. The majority of this land is non waterfront and in some instances is a random mix of both Council and National Park lots. These are the primary Council land holdings that it was felt could be considered for National Park inclusion. In addition, along the foreshores there is also a scattering of Council and National Parks properties, some of which are located between residential lots or separated from other national park land by public roads. There should be further discussion as to the most appropriate type of longer term management for these lands given the current constraints that affect their use.

Why is there only a map set for Mackerel Beach and not the other Western Foreshore Settlements?

The reason is that at Mackerel Beach there has been more detailed analysis of the parcels to be designated as Wildlife Protection Areas, whereas at the other western foreshore settlements there is still a need for more detailed analysis. This analysis will need to engage the community, the Department of Planning and the National Parks & Wildlife Service. It may be that not all of Council's land should be put to wildlife protection at these other locations and that there may be some scope to achieve other community and environmental benefits and use for the subject land parcels, by more closely examining what land use patterns and management arrangements should be applied into the future.

Newsletter Design:Paul Purvis [0403-442-764]