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Sutherland Shire Council's Draft Management Plan

Sutherland Shire Environment Centre welcomes the opportunity to make a submission in relation to the draft documents, and would like to put forward the following comments:

•  Support the community in environmental initiatives. We support the introduction of an allocation from the Environment Fund to be used for seed funding for the initiation of projects which aim to improve the local environment. SSEC is often approached by individuals or small groups wanting assistance to initiate environmental projects. There is a wealth of good ideas within the community for positive environmental action - we hope the availability of seed funding will enable more on-ground activity.

We suggest Council consider, in the future, an allocation of funds towards community training courses in small project management. Great ideas are more likely to result in on-ground success when the individuals involved are empowered with the requisite facilitation and planning skills. A partnership between SSEC and Sutherland Shire Council could work to ensure these projects/initiatives are undertaken successfully.

•  Increased transport options/Maintain a healthy, active community. Increasing transport options is vital to a sustainable, healthy future for the Shire. SSEC supports the development of cycle routes and related facilities, and would encourage Council to rezone the undeveloped portion of the F6 corridor for non-freeway uses, such as cycle routes and pedestrian thoroughfares.

SSEC also urges Council to incorporate the Great Kai'mia Way within the plan to encourage a greater community familiarity with the Shire, as a means of improving community health through exercise, and improving sustainable access. The Great Kai'mia Way is over 200 kilometres of sustainable access routes to the foreshores of the Georges and Woronora Rivers , linking with the Illawarra Escarpment and Botany Bay . It is a vision of non-motorised movement through the valleys - on foot, by bicycle or canoe, respecting the ecological, cultural, social and heritage values of the area. It is also a vision about partnerships and community participation, about building an asset that respects the past, the current and future generations.

•  Water Conservation. Sutherland Shire Council needs to lead by example as one of the largest local government areas in Sydney . Access to fresh, clean water is a blessing, one that is largely taken for granted in Australia . There is little or no consideration within the community given to their responsibilities with regard to protecting this precious resource. Although there is mention within the Draft Management Plan of measures Council plan to take in regards to its own water usage, there is no mention of any Council plans to implement community education programs on water usage. Education programs of this kind would link well with Greenweb , encouraging the use of indigenous native plants in gardens would work to reduce domestic consumption, as native plants are adapted to drier conditions. Sutherland Council should also be seen taking an active role in encouraging local businesses and industry to implement water-saving measures.

•  Conserving native flora and fauna. Greenweb and Bushcare have shown to be very important for the conservation of the Shire's indigenous native flora and fauna, and SSEC supports their continuation. Appropriate measures need to be enforced to penalise those who remove native vegetation without a permit, as is often the case regarding water-view situations. These penalties should be reinforced within a regime that rewards residents who decide to retain, restore and reinstate native bushland. Maintaining biodiversity in the Shire should be a concern that underlies decision-making on urban development.

•  Moving towards a low waste future. The Council's aim to have zero waste to landfill from the domestic waste stream within the next 10 years is commendable. In order to achieve this, Shire consumption behaviour must change. Education programs will need to be based upon reducing consumption and emphasising responsible consumer decisions. Education will also need to extend beyond the consumer to local and regional retailers and businesses, highlighting producer responsibility to provide recyclable/reusable/biodegradable products. Such a significant undertaking will require Council to work with higher levels of government to effect change - SSEC would be an enthusiastic partner in this endeavour.

The Sustainable House project has the potential to become a powerful education tool in waste minimisation. SSEC hopes to work with Council to ensure the project comes to fruition.

Sutherland Shire Council has set commendable targets for itself and for the Shire. SSEC looks forward to working with Council to help achieve these goals.