Friday 9 February 2018
By Ginninderry Project Team

Ginninderry brings with it a great opportunity to protect, enhance and re-open Ginninderra Falls, via significant capital investment funded by the project and the establishment of a Conservation Management Trust, for its management in perpetuity.

The unique opportunity for Ginninderra Falls lies in the ability of the Parkwood Planning Proposal, the NSW component of the Ginninderry project, to provide the very significant funding required for both the initial capital works and the ongoing care, control and management of the conservation corridor.

A Conservation Management Trust is an emerging governance model for areas of high conservation and / or other intrinsic values, drawing on skills and participation from the public and private sectors. To provide the required knowledge base for proper management of Ginninderra Falls and its environs, a great deal of scientific investigation has already been completed, with further work ongoing. This work will ensure that all notable environmental, ecological and cultural features within the whole of the conservation corridor are identified, providing a robust evidence base for management of the Falls precinct and the corridor more generally.

Creation of the conservation area

The Ginninderry proposal, if approved, will result in the creation of a large, publicly accessible, conservation corridor which will include the Falls and Gorge. As noted above, all notable environmental, ecological and cultural features of the Ginninderry project site are to be incorporated within a 596ha conservation corridor spanning NSW and the ACT.

The boundaries of the proposed conservation corridor have been determined on the basis of detailed site investigations into the environmental values of the area and ongoing discussions with Government agencies. All of the land with significant environmental value as well as additional land that has been found to have aboriginal cultural significance, is to be included in the corridor.

The setback to the nearest homes from lower Ginninderra Creek and the Murrumbidgee River would range from about 250m to 1.5 kilometres (average distance about 650m) depending on the environmental and cultural heritage values of the land.

Funding of Ginninderry

The Ginninderry project is large and consequently the budget is substantial. Civil infrastructure will be provided and funded in the normal way by the Joint Venture (JV) between the ACT Government and Riverview Developments, along with the other landowners in NSW. Many thousands of jobs in construction, landscaping, home building and related industries will be created over the 35 to 40 year expected life of the project.

The JV will pay for all of the roads, underground services, parks, reserves, community facilities and open space. The JV will also pay for and construct all of the conservation and recreation facilities serving the conservation corridor, including paths, trails, lookouts, visitor amenities, a visitor centre and the like. Additionally, the JV has committed to providing funding to the Conservation Management Trust, from all land sales, which along with other funding sources will ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the Trust.

Facilities and services to new residents of Ginninderry will be funded by a number of means depending on the service. For example, user pays charges will apply for services such as water. Garbage collection will be funded through rates, public schools will be funded by the Government, while private child care facilities will be funded by the provider.

The NSW component of the Ginninderry project will not see residents moving in until about 2032, and growth will then take place through to completion in about 2055, with an expected population of 13,000. By 2036, in accordance with the Yass Settlement Strategy (recently endorsed by the Yass Valley Council), Murrumbateman will have grown to 10,000 people and the town of Yass will have grown to 20,000 people.

Measures to protect the natural, cultural and scenic values of the area

As with any project of this nature the Planning Proposal has been the subject of rigorous environmental scrutiny, in this case by the ACT Government, the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. The reports prepared for approval by these agencies are available on the Ginninderry website: Ginninderry.com – under the Planning section in the Reports Library.

In terms of addressing bush fire risk the Planning Proposal has taken into account the requirements specified by the relevant NSW (and ACT) emergency services agencies. The Ginninderry project has also commissioned leading bushfire experts to provide continuing advice on fire protection measures as the project proceeds.

While some groups have taken issue with elements of the Proposal, the Yass Valley Council, representing the people of the Yass Valley has provided its support enabling the Planning Proposal to be further considered by the NSW Government. Council will continue to listen to and consider the information put to them by all interested persons and groups.

Where is the NSW planning process up to?

The NSW Department of Planning Environment is currently subjecting the Parkwood Planning Proposal to a process of rigorous examination, prior to a formal public exhibition period where it will be open for public review and comment.

It is common for a rezoning proposal of this scale to include provisions specific to the area to which the rezoning applies, which may differ from the requirements in other parts of NSW. An example here is the inclusion of special provisions for development in the vicinity of the conservation zone edge, to ensure that development near the conservation zone has particular regard to potential impacts on the conservation corridor. The purpose of such provisions is to provide transparency and certainty for all stakeholders.

 

There are also no “let out” clauses in the planning proposal. The SP1 zone has been specifically included to accommodate management and visitor facilities (including eco-tourism facilities), outside of the conservation corridor, which would be in line with the Ginninderra Falls Association objective of a “major regional tourist destination”. These facilities are not permitted in the conservation zone, which will have a high level of conservation protection under an “E2” zoning. Development Control Plans that will provide additional controls over development will be considered and approved by Yass Valley Council over time, and involve public engagement processes.

All inputs to the planning processes are welcomed.

Status of Ginninderry actions in the ACT

A full suite of environmental assessment reports has been completed for the Ginninderry project; these are available on the Ginninderry website, Ginninderry.com – under the Planning section in the Reports Library.

Detailed aboriginal archaeological and cultural heritage studies have been carried out with full participation of aboriginal stakeholder groups. The project site does include important sites of aboriginal cultural heritage significance. These will be preserved strictly in accordance with the wishes of aboriginal stakeholder groups, including the Ngunawal people.

Based on the environmental assessment work, a Territory Plan Variation to enable the project (in the ACT) was approved in 2016. Shortly thereafter the National Capital Plan was also amended to facilitate Ginninderry. Approval for the whole of the project was granted by the Commonwealth Department of Environment (under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act) in 2017.

From a conservation perspective, the Territory Plan Variation (No. 351) included numerous protections, including the creation of an additional 70 hectare woodland component to the existing reserve to afford improved habitat protection for woodland birds, such as the scarlet robin. The Variation also provided a specific clearance zone to protect a little eagle nest site near Strathnairn.

If you want to know more about the project, there are a number of ways to go:

  • Call in to Win’s Creek Meadery at Murrumbateman between 11:00am — 1:00pm on Thursdays and Fridays or 12:00pm – 2:00pm on market days, see the site model and talk to a project team member (this display was previously at Trader and Co. in Yass from July to October 2017).

The information display can be visited anytime from 10am – 4pm on Thursday – Sunday, during Win’s Creek Meadery’s normal trading hours.

  • Call in to The Link building at Strathnairn on Stockdill Drive Holt; the project office is open to the public 7 days a week (9am -5pm Monday to Friday and 10am – 2pm Saturday and Sunday) and team members are available to meet with you and answer any questions.
  • Visit the website Ginninderry.com; it includes lots of general information and questions on detailed technical matters are addressed in the Reports library, under the Planning section.

Ginninderra Falls photo – Canberra Times / Jamila Toderas