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Ralphs Bay - Development Application

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Tags: Ralphs Bay, Planning

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, in March 2004 there was a very large community campaign that commenced in southern Tasmania to stop what could have been an incredibly damaging and inappropriate canal housing estate in the beautiful Ralphs Bay Conservation Area. The Save Ralphs Bay campaign was fought hard and long and before she was Leader of the Tasmanian Greens, Cassy O'Connor, was standing with the community all the way. In June 2010 the Greens formally confirmed that the Walker proposal was dead in the water.

Unfortunately, Ralphs Bay and the residents who were involved in that campaign have been shocked to hear that there is a proposal to privatise and degrade that beautiful conservation area space. A development application has been lodged for a 60-metre long private jetty on the Sandford side of Ralphs Bay, ostensibly for the berthing of private pleasure cruisers, although the enormous length of the jetty and the engineering of the structure and the ownership and development potential of nearby blocks of land raise questions about the real purpose for such a massive jetty.

We have been contacted by a substantial number of local residents who have used the area for generations for recreation and have enjoyed the beautiful pristine coastline of Ralphs Bay and the views from there. They are very upset about what is being proposed. I understand residents have been in contact with DPIPWE a number of times trying to find out about the Government's Crown land responsibilities but to date they have not received a response. The Greens have also written to the minister, Mr Jaensch, asking him for an explanation and whether Crown land consent has been given for this privatisation of Crown land for a jetty.

The proponents have provided a marine ecological assessment to council with their development application submission. It notes that the critically endangered spotted handfish has been recorded within 500 metres of the proposed private development. That was one of the reasons why the original Ralphs Bay canal estate was knocked back, amongst many others. The marine ecological assessment acknowledges the impact on the spotted handfish and recommends that construction only occur outside handfish breeding seasons from July to November and cites the known impact of turbidity and substrate disturbance on handfish reproduction.

The Save Ralphs Bay campaign brought together at the time a very large field of experts who identified the environmental harms of disturbing sediment and resuspending heavy metals which are there from a legacy of industrial use that have been locked away in the river beds. The construction of this proposed private jetty for pleasure cruisers would involve driving 11 steel piles deep into the river bed and clearly based on the developer's own report, this would have an impact on turbidity and stirring up the sediment and threatening the nearby spotted handfish and their delicate habitat. Suitable substrata are considered critical to their breeding success.

We want the Government to come clean about their involvement in this proposal. Has Crown land consent be given? Did they advertise about the application before they provided if they did provide consent? On what basis was it given if it was provided? Who have they consulted with about this privatisation proposal? What is being stitched up behind closed doors?

Residents are very concerned. It is very surprising for them to learn that Crown Land may have given consent already.

It is sitting with Clarence City Council. The development application has been put on hold but the community wants to know, is this another sordid tale like we have seen so many times in Clarence City Council, first with Kangaroo Bay in Bellerive and with Rosny Hill, which is still outstanding. The residents are taking that decision to RMPAT.

This leaves communities responsible for caring for their places. For looking after publicly owned land, conservation land. Again, the Government is doing deals behind closed doors regarding our Crown Land in beautiful conservation areas where people have lived for tens of thousands of years. Recently the people who are resident there have been caring for these places for decades.

This is not good enough. The minister has to come clean with the community on what deals have been done and on what basis could Crown consent possibly be provided for a private jetty in a position like this.