Bush, wetlands now on solid ground with zoning

Bush, wetlands now on solid ground with zoning

PROTECTED: Environmentalists Neil Jones, Margaret Weaver, Ian Starr, Ros Valentine, Stephen Nugent and Fiona Hawke at the Ploughmans Wetlands, which has been zoned as a public recreation area. Photo: MARK LOGAN 0302mlploughmans1THE environment and the community have had a win with two prominent stretches of land saved from future development.

Under Orange’s recently approved Local Environmental Plan (LEP), the Bloomfield bushland is now an environmental conservation zone and Ploughmans Wetlands has been zoned as a public recreation area.

“It’s exceptionally good news, it’s the best outcome we could hope for,” Orange councillor and Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange president Neil Jones said.

“We now have publicly zoned land from Wentworth Estate to Ploughmans Valley, it opens up huge opportunities for walkways and cycleways.”

Under the new zoning all residential and commercial development is banned at the bushlands, while the wetlands can only have recreation or eco-tourist facilities.

Cr Jones said both areas will have enormous benefits for the community and environment.

“It ensures these areas of open space and remnant bushlands will be protected for all time,” he said.

“There were fears the land could be earmarked for commercial and residential development.”

The bushland’s close proximity to the hospital, Bloomfield campus, future Ronald McDonald House and Western Care Lodge will be of ongoing benefit, Cr Jones said, with future walking tracks in the area a possible outlet for patients and visitors.

“There are wonderful opportunities for bushland experiences,” he said.

Cr Jones admits there will be “enormous challenges” to maintain the area including controlling the exotic woody weeds.

He hopes the chief advocates of the area, the Bloomfield Bushland Advancement Group, will be able to form a community based bushland care group including staff from the health campus.

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