Page 2120 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 August 2022

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Black Mountain, and that without connectivity many animal species cannot find food, shelter or space to breed.

The petitioners asked the government to ensure that Stromlo blocks 402 and 403 undergo full ecological assessment. They further asked to ensure that urban development is not pursued on block 12 section 1 Denman Prospect until there is sufficient information to decide on the environmental significance of the block.

Another point in the petition was to ensure that the ecological considerations of Stromlo blocks 402 and 403 and Denman Prospect block 12 section 1 included the impacts on threatened species, critically endangered box-gum woodland, old-growth trees, landscape connectivity, and consideration of urban edge effects.

Finally, the petitioners asked for, following full ecological assessments, assurance that areas that have nationally outstanding ecosystems and species, formed mostly by non-human factors, are declared as nature reserves.

For those who live in the Molonglo Valley and for ecologically minded Canberrans across the territory, the preservation of high-value environmental land is a major issue. The importance placed on environmental factors thus far in the process of the western edge investigation highlights exactly this.

As the blocks colloquially known as Bluetts Block sit within the western edge investigation area, it is integral that, as the investigation proceeds, thorough consideration is given to the environmental realities of the space to the west of Belconnen, Molonglo, Weston Creek and Kambah.

The 2021 census showed that Canberra is growing, and growing at a faster rate than expected. The nearby Molonglo Valley grew by about 250 per cent between 2016 and 2021. Canberra is growing, and that is why it is important that we undertake these assessments.

Several weeks ago, preliminary reports on the western edge area were publicly released. These preliminary reports provide an initial informed understanding of the area, ranging from water values and landscape character to bushfire risk and ecology. The reports outline what work should be done as the investigation proceeds to gain a more detailed understanding of the environment across the entire space, including Bluetts Block. They are a positive start to the thorough and detailed environmental investigations that are planned as part of this process.

The ACT government’s commitment to planning for Canberra’s future and investigating the potential future uses of land, such as potential urban areas, environmental protection areas and nature reserves is both welcome and necessary. Signatories of this petition will be eagerly anticipating the next steps of the investigation, including the capability and sustainability assessment of the western edge that is underway, as well as the further studies that will be conducted.

I am proud to have sponsored this petition on behalf of 732 community members about the future of Bluetts Block. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to sign this petition. I look forward to the minister’s response, and I welcome the consideration of these matters by the committee.

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