Environment

The Bay’s Environment

 

The Catherine Hill Bay Heritage Conservation Area is located east of the Pacific Highway on the South Wallarah Peninsula , between the Wallarah National Park in the north and Munmorah State Conservation Area in the south. This area has long been identified by the State Government as the coastal “book-end” of an intercity Environmental Zone between the Central Coast and Hunter Valley urban areas.These two parks along with the nearby Lake Macquarie State Conservation Area and the South Wallarah Area itself comprise the largest area of coastal vegetation between the Hawkesbury River and the Hunter River .Most of the South Wallarah is a former underground coal mining lease with most of the freehold title held by various mining companies until recent times. This prolonged ownership helped insulate and protect the area from surface development pressures.When it became clear in 2000 that coal mining land might be sold to developers when mining ceased, community groups in northern Wyong Shire and southern Lake Macquarie formed the Wallarah Peninsula Alliance (WPA) to protect and conserve the South Wallarah environment.In 2004 the WPA nominated the coal lease area as a National Park.

As a consequence, a formal Conservation Assessment of the area was made in 2005 by the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation. This described the area’s key significance as being “in the connection between the coast and Lake Macquarie and between the three conservation areas.”

The Assessment concluded that the South Wallarah contained four “threatened” plant species, known habitat for nine threatened fauna species and potential habitat for at least seven more. “Four State listed endangered ecological communities occur across the study area and five of the vegetation communities occurring on the site are considered to be naturally rare”, the report said.

The Department’s position is that South Wallarah “is of extremely high conservation value and that development opportunities across the site are limited due to the potential for incremental habitat loss and fragmentation.”

‘Limited development opportunities are provided for within current land zonings in the Wyong and Lake Macquarie Local Environment Plans which cover the area, and the (department) supports the approach taken by both Councils to recognize the conservation significance of the area in their planning instruments”.

Significantly, the Heritage Office’s assessment of the area’s significance includes environmental, ecological and landscape considerations.

 

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