Weston Creek Community Council
your local voice
Postal Address: PO Box 3701 Weston Creek 2611
Phone: 6288 8975
Fax: 6288 9179
28th March 2001
Jeff Carl, WCCC Chairperson, welcomed the committee, the numerous members of the public and guest speakers:
Bob Sutherland; Gary Caitcheon; Diana Patterson; Kerrie Tucker; Simon Corbell and Jacqui Burke.
Jeff Carl advised the meeting that the WCCC had changed its banking arrangements to reduce the impact of bank fees, which were to significantly increase on 2 April 2001. The WCCC has moved its accounts from St George (formerly Advance Bank – with whom the account has been since the inception of the WCCC) to CPS Credit Union. As the WCCC requires two signatures for transactions the account is considered a business account and no banks have the ability/ interest to assist voluntary associations. The CPS account has the lowest across the counter fees.
Residents who receive the WCCC electronic newsletter and have SPIRIT as their Internet Service Provider (ISP) need to advise the WCCC of their new ISP (by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mr Carl thanked Mr Lincoln Hawkins, Executive Director of PALM, for the contribution towards the cost of printing and distributing the yellow WCCC flyer throughout Weston Creek this week. Attendees who did not receive one in their letterbox (those with NO JUNK MAIL) are welcome to have one of the spares at this meeting.
Mr Carl distributed to the meeting, the minutes of the February 2001 meeting, the minutes of the October 2000 meeting which contained details of the forestry logging operation and an agenda for this meeting.
Planning and Land Management (PALM)
Mr Ian Wood-Bradley indicated that he would give an overview of ACTCode 2 and then take questions. ACTCode 2 is a grouping of policies, regulations and guidelines, which sit within the broad framework of the ACT territory plan. ACTCode 2 has been worked on by PALM for a number of years and will replace ACTCode, which was introduced with the original Territory Plan.
Although the suggested amendments in ACTCode 2 have been in public circulation since October 2000 and public information sessions have been held conducted by PALM; it is now in March 2001 that ACTCode 2 begins six months of formal public consultation. It is now intended that ACTCode 2 will have interim effect from the date that it is gazetted until September 2001.
ACTCode 2 consolidates a number of residential policies and land use guidelines. The Lansdowne Guidelines did not have the status of policies at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and ACTCode 2 gives that status. The code also aims to maintain the streetscape of Canberra.
The code is ‘performance based’ and advises the intended outcome, ie it has ‘intent’; and suggested ‘acceptable solutions’. The code encourages innovation; other ‘acceptable solutions’, which achieve the intended outcomes, can also be considered. In new estates the code attempts to create the environment of Canberra’s older streetscapes.
There are 30 elements in ACTCode 2, which deal with streetscape and these range from dwellings in general to specific details of street design and construction. The code is an attempt to lift the quality and sustainability in planning. The paramount importance is to achieve high quality urban planning and design. ACTCode 2 integrates neighbourhood planning and residential policies with good design.
Public open space is an issue which ACTCode 2 concentrates on improving – this should not be considered ‘left-over’ space which is not well used. The proportions of public open space in suburbs are of importance as well as its access and quality. ACTCode 2 aims to locate areas of public open space within 200-400 metres from every residence such that all members of the local community can use them. In the National Standards the recommended distance is within 300-500m.
Streets are another area that ACTCode 2 addresses. Streets need to be safe and efficient for moving traffic as well as cope with parking, have good landscape and provide for utilities and drainage. The aim is to avoid streets just for traffic. The typical street of 13m width in ACTCode 2 is now 18m to allow street plantings of trees with spreading crowns similar to that existing in the older suburbs of Canberra.
In addition streetscape is of importance in existing areas such as Weston Creek. Issues which will be taken into account in exiting areas are setbacks (which will be retained at 6m), views, trees and the impact of the proposed development on existing residences. The no-fence character is intended to remain to achieve informal landscaping in streets. The plot ratio for buildings is set at 35%.
Section master plans in ACTCode 2 have received a lot of coverage. These are where it is intended to re-develop a complete block – usually defined as being bounded on all sides by streets. The plot ratio can change from 35% in section master plans. A section master plan needs the specific approval of the Minister.
Australian Federal Police
Mr Carl invited Sergeant John Greenaway of the Woden Station Crime Prevention Team to provide the meeting with a brief update. The revamping of the organisation of the Southern District Police Command continues. "Operation Anchorage’ has had amazing success with criminal activity being greatly reduced in Weston Creek.
Woden Interchange has improved with less loitering; possibly due to the selection of piped music. There have also been improvements around Cooleman Court.
Significant Tree Register
Mr Stephen Hughes indicated that he would give an overview of the ACT Government Trees Policy and then take questions. The Significant Tree Register is one of the strategies in the Trees Policy. The trees policy was also addressing the issues of the loss of trees during urban redevelopment and the provision of space for trees in new urban developments.
Tree protection is a recent innovation in the ACT. The original work An appropriate tree management and protection policy for the ACT made 27 recommendations relating to managing trees and one was the significant tree register. The tree policy covers all areas of government from Urban Services through to schools management and other activities of government.
A ‘tree management network’ will be convened and chaired by Environment ACT. The network will develop an annual action plan and include a range of representative groups such as ACT for Trees. The network will foster partnerships to protect trees in the ACT. Industry accreditation for tree surgeons will also be introduced. It is not intended to be an over-regulatory approach but work in cooperation with the National Arborists Association.
Information on the significant tree register and the tree management network are available on the Internet at the Environment ACT website.
The significant tree register will have criteria for trees to be included in the register:
The Legislative Assembly will set these and an independent committee will add trees to the register without referral back to the Assembly. It is envisaged that the register could have up to 20,000 trees.
Mr Carl thanked Mr Ian Wood-Bradley of PALM and Mr Stephen Hughes of Environment ACT for attending the meeting and their presentations.
Aerial Spraying of Narrabundah Hill pine forest (near Duffy)
Mr Carl advised the meeting that Ms Julie Docker, a resident of Duffy had approached the WCCC to request an opportunity to address a public meeting of the Council. The issue is the proposed aerial spraying of Narrabundah Hill with herbicides after the forests were logged.
The WCCC had at its October 2000 meeting ACT Forests as the guest speakers to talk to the community on the logging operation during 2001 and 2002. The Executive of the WCCC and representatives of ACT Forests had also attended a meeting of concerned Duffy residents on a Saturday morning in February. Mr Carl also advised that ACT Forests had been invited to tonight’s meeting to listen to residents' concerns (as conveyed by Ms Docker) and may wish to address some of these concerns at this meeting. Attendees needed to be aware that ACT Forests were working on different scenarios on treating the area but these are not available as yet.
Ms Julie Docker read from a prepared statement for 14.5 minutes. That statement is attached to these minutes.
Mr Tony Bartlett, Director ACT Forests advised the meeting that the agency was, as Mr Carl earlier indicated, investigating a range of work practices in the area. He also advised the meeting that the helicopter spraying was the most cost-effective means of applying the herbicide. It was safer and cheaper than men with hand held spraying, and used less herbicide.
Mr David Jamieson provided, using slides and overheads, the meeting with technical information on helicopter spraying, civil aviation practises/rules, the codes of practice for the use of chemicals and the types of chemicals used.
Residents asked a number of questions of Mr Bartlett on the work program. Mr Bartlett advised that ACT Forests were here to listen to the residents concerns and provide technical details of spraying. The issues raised by residents have been the subject of a number of discussions and residents are aware that ACT Forests are forward planning the 2002 work plan and information would be provided when available.
Residents indicated that they would like a political debate rather than continuing just a technical debate. Mr Carl offered the WCCC to host another community meeting later in the year, possibly November. Some residents indicated that this was too late for the work program. The ACT Legislative Assembly election is in October and the WCCC is hosting a ’meet the candidates’ meeting in September. Mr Carl advised the meeting that it would be extremely unlikely that the issue would be subject to a political debate in the lead up to the election – the reason being that ACT Forests are adhering to all the guidelines and regulations of the National Register of Chemicals and the guidelines on air safety of aerial spraying. ACT Forests would be invited to the August 2000 meeting to discuss their work program progress.
Any other business
There was no other business
Next Meeting will be 23rd May 2001 - the AGM
(As the 4th Wednesday of the month in April is Anzac Day there will be no meeting)
Meeting closed at 10.20 pm
(Electronic copy below supplied to the WCCC for inclusion in the Minutes)
Speech to be given on behalf of residents
at a meeting organised by
Weston Creek Community Council
28th March 2001
Before beginning I would like to express my thanks to Jeff Carl for allowing us to speak tonight at the WCCC meeting, and I would like to say that I am speaking tonight on behalf of a group of residents who are opposed to the aerial spraying of the pine forest.
In January this year a group of concerned residents of Duffy and Rivett met in one of our houses and wrote to the ACT Forests wishing to express their concerns. We had just found out about the prospect of aerial spraying on Narrabundah Hill, the pine forest off Eucumbene Drive at the edge of Duffy, and wanted more information.
In that letter we began by stating that we appreciate the fact that the Plantation is a commercial enterprise to which we are not opposed, and we also appreciate the fact, as do all the nearby residents who use it, that ACT Forests take care of a beautiful forest on our doorstep which we use for recreational purposes.
The trouble is that this forest is on our doorstep, and suddenly this beautiful forest has turned from being a source of great delight to one of great concern. We believe that is unacceptable to have aerial spraying next to a residential area. Duffy is adjacent to the plantation, Rivett is very close nearby and there is only Eucumbene Drive to separate the suburb from the pine forest.
Aerial spraying will bring great risk, and while there will be a buffer zone of 150 metres, we believe that this will be far too small. It is unacceptable to put public health at risk when ACT Forests have a duty of care to protect it. The basic problem is that ACT Forests are running the operation as if there were no suburb on their doorstep.
We have written more than one letter to ACT Forests and in their replies they tell us they will use low flying helicopters and choose what is called the ‘right climactic conditions’; in the last letter to us they state that they believe strongly there will be ‘no aerial drift’. Unfortunately, ACT Forests have provided no evidence or proof from former aerial spraying of the area that there will be no aerial drift, and it is hard evidence that we need when our health and that of our children’s are the issue.
We believe that the variables in this situation are too great. From our understanding there must be a slight breeze for the spraying to be effective at all. The smallest sudden gust could carry the herbicide away from the forest and towards the suburb. Vaporisation too is a risk, and it must be remembered that much of the forest is on a high hill overlooking Weston Creek.
An American study has shown that 40-80% of spray misses the target area. We have been in consultation with Mariann Loyd-Smith from the National Toxics Network from whom we learned that from studies that have been done in the United States drift has been measured up to 800 metres (the maximum amount tested).
ACT Forests have replied by saying this may have been done with old technology, but since they have not done any tests of their own how can we have confidence that they are right? The three herbicides to be used in the aerial spraying are: Hexazinone (Velpar), Glyphosate (Round up), Metasulfuron methyl (Brush off). Hexazinone is very poorly absorbed by soil particles, is very soluble in water, and is slowly degraded, so is likely to be mobile in most soils and has the potential to contaminate ground water.
In 1999 the chief of National Forests in California declared a moratorium on aerial application of hexazinone after its off-target impact on waterways. It can now only be used under special conditions. There is then a further risk to the residents in the run off after heavy rain of water and so one would expect to birds and animal life. Hexazinone will be sprayed in pellets so when ACT Forest say there will be one spraying of about two hours in fact there will be two.
Another concern is that while all three chemicals have been approved by the National Registration Authority, no one knows the effects of using a mixture of all three together. From the National Toxics Network we know that there have been no human or environmental studies done on this mixture!!!! We are also not dealing only with these chemicals in the mixture, for there is a wide range of solvents and surfactants included in the formulation which may well have side effects but they are not disclosed under commercial confidentiality arrangements.
People could reply that these herbicides are used in private gardens, and that herbicides are used by the council to kill weeds on pathways. There are, however, many people who choose not to use these herbicides. Ground spraying of paths may well have risks to health which have not yet come to light, but in this case we have a public body, not individuals, using aerial spraying of herbicide next to a residential area. To our way of thinking there are unacceptable health risks involved. There are risks involved to those residents allergic to the spray, but there could be unknown health risks such as asthma and allergies which come to light after spraying has taken place. Babies, children, pregnant women and older people would be specially at risk.
What no one can give us a guarantee on are the long term effects on the health of residents. We all know that herbicides in the past were supposedly safe but are now on the banned list. It has recently come to my notice the recent banning of a pesticide in the United States. The US Environment Agency has just entered into a agreement with Dow Agro Sciences to ban the domestic use of the pesticide and common termite treatment chlorpyrifos in homes, hospitals and preschools in the US. The products of the chemical in the US were found in 100% of a sample of 416 children tested in the US in 1998, aged from 0 to 6 years. (Toxics Network News Journal, August 2001,p.1)
I realise we are dealing with herbicides and not pesticides, but who is to say what will be the effects of these chemicals on us in twenty, thirty years time? A major concern in all this is the health of the children. There are no tests that can say that aerial spraying of herbicides is safe for twenty, thirty, forty years into the future. Already we have heard that some parents at the Duffy Pre-School are saying that the children should be kept inside on the day that the proposed aerial spraying will take place. We owe it to the following generations that we take a brave and just stand on this issue in order to protect them. Thus the right response must be caution and no aerial spraying. It is another risk which must also be taken into consideration. There is the risk of accidents happening. We do not know if there will be the right mixture of the herbicides, or if a helicopter will lose control. We always have the awful example of the hospital implosion before us.
So far I have spoken mainly of health risks to people and there is no time to consider the risk to frogs, to insects, birds and other animals using the plantation. Another concern of ours is that so far ACT Forests has not sent out a flyer to the residents informing them they intend to aerial spray Narrabundah Hill. We understand that they will do this two weeks before spraying. They tell us they have consulted but we have been the ones in our letters to the paper, and a public meeting organised by ourselves, to make this of public knowledge and concern.
True ACT Forests mentioned this in a meeting in October of 2000, there is this meeting which has not been taken up mainly with the issue, but this is hardly adequate consultation for such a serious health issue. What else is planned? We want evidence that ACT Forests, the Department of Urban Services and ACT Health Protection Service are listening to our concerns — and that the Minister of Urban Services in particular, Brendan Smyth, will respond to us in this election year. What then should a duty of care and a proper consultation process mean to the residents of Weston Creek by the Department of Urban Services, by ACT Forests and by the ACT Health Protection Service?
We state that: there should be no aerial spraying for the reasons outlined above, but specially for the risks posed to children and pregnant women and old people with lung problems. There is a need to look into progressive alternatives to aerial spraying. Would ACT Forests have the expertise and the will to look for alternatives? We believe they should be given extra money by Urban Services to carry out such research and/ or seek consultants. There should be an improved consultation process which must look into the long terms use of the forest.
ACT Forests should set up of a task force of representatives from ACT Forests, health specialists, specialists perhaps from the universities and the CSIRO and community residents as well, including people who use the forests recreationally. A long-term solution must be found. To go ahead with spraying with a community opposed can only lead to a long-standing hostile process and there will always be a new generation to take up this problem. What of the future? We as residents who live near the forest must continue to conduct a campaign to say continually no to aerial spraying. We urge all here to help us and to initiate actions to achieve this. Many of us say there should be a much greater buffer zone, others would like the area turned into a recreational area. Most of all we await concrete proposals from ACT Forests. In a recent Canberra Times interview, Tony Bartlett, head of ACT Forests, said that there would be a compromise. It has now been over two months since residents’ concerns over aerial spraying were first raised. When will ACT Forests be ready to offer a compromise and properly consult with residents over its adoption?
28 March 2001