Split-zoning option to assist private land conservation efforts

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Private land conservation policy changes ratified at Council’s Ordinary Meeting will boost Noosa Council’s efforts to protect more fauna habitat and expand wildlife corridors across the shire.

Property owners who are keen to safeguard areas of their land that have significant environmental values can now apply to have those sections rezoned for conservation by way of amendments to the planning scheme.

“Split-zoning – where you have different parts of the one property zoned separately – is an avenue of protection not previously available to us because the State Government didn’t support it,” Development Assessment Manager Kerri Coyle said.

“However, things have changed, and we can now zone part of a rural property for conservation purposes while the land with the house is separately zoned as rural residential, for example.

“Voluntary Conservation Agreements (VCAs) have typically been the avenue that property owners who want to add high-level protection to their land can take. But establishing them can be costly and there’s a legal process to have the VCA attached to the land title.

“This alternative, rezoning sections of a property, can be done as part of the periodic amendments that Council makes to Noosa’s planning scheme. In many cases this approach will be simpler and cheaper and it will provide equally strong protection,” Ms Coyle said.

“We’re pleased to take advantage of split zoning to support private land conservation. We’ve updated our policies to ensure property owners who protect their land this way get access to the same funding and expert advice that VCA property owners enjoy.”

Mayor Tony Wellington said Council was keen to pursue all private land conservation avenues available.

“Anything new that we can do to support private land conservation ultimately helps Council’s efforts to protect wildlife corridors,” he said. “What’s more it reduces the need for Council to buy up large land parcels in order to safeguard important habitat.

“Over the years, Council has used its environment levy to purchase tracts of environmentally significant land. But of course that often comes with an ongoing maintenance burden. If we can help private landowners to protect important regional ecosystems, then that’s a huge win for the environment and the community, and it’s very cost effective.

“Many people come to live in Noosa because they really care about the natural environment. Thus we have many private landowners who are keen to protect parts of their own properties for conservation purposes. Split-zoning is now another tool we can consider in order to assist them.”

 
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