An urgent plea for Cumberland State Forest to be named as a National Park has been made by Hills Shire Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne to the NSW Environment Minister, Matt Kean.
The request to see the State Forest transferred to the National Parks and Wildlife Service comes after The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment announced it was considering fast-tracking a high density proposal at 55 Coonara Avenue, in West Pennant Hills through the assessment process as part of the Planning Assessment Acceleration Scheme.
The Mirvac proposal, which backs onto the Cumberland State Forest at the former IBM site, is one of 24 ‘shovel ready’ projects under consideration in the second tranche of the Scheme – a program designed to kick-start the NSW economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cumberland State Forest is the largest metropolitan forest in the country and is home to an array of threatened flora and fauna species as well as two threatened ecological communities.
“More than ever before, we need to protect our local green spaces as we take on more of Sydney’s housing growth,” said the Mayor.
“Cumberland is the only urban forest in Australia and boasts an abundance of birdlife, as well as rare native flora and fauna.
“Council would like to see the ownership of the Cumberland State Forest transferred to the National Parks and Wildlife Service to protect this pristine forest, which is loved by residents from the Hills and across the region.
“As we grow, it’s increasingly important that we retain and protect our green spaces so that they can remain intact for current and future generations. It’s also paramount that residents, especially those who will be living in higher density housing in the future, have access to these valuable sites, especially the Cumberland State Forest, for education, conservation and active and passive recreation.“
While she praised the NSW Government on working on ways to get the economy moving again, she hoped the Department would side with council’s decision.
“Unless Mirvac has resolved the inherent fundamental problems with its Coonara proposal, Council will continue to stand by its decision,” she said.
“Council resolved in November that the Mirvac proposal should not proceed and the community has been against this development right from the start.”