By Sue Tolley. Cover photo by Rene` Vogelzang
Cheers went up last week around Jervis Bay as news spread that the iconic Moona Moona Creek and its beautiful family reserve was safe, for now, from massive inappropriate development. Council notified those who made submissions regarding the proposal that the owners of the land had withdrawn their DA.
Over 200 submissions were sent to Council mostly from local individuals, businesses and organisations but also regular visitors to the area. People from all sides of politics opposed this development; it appears it simply stretched the limits of local and even tourist tolerance too far. Wrong place, wrong style, wrong intention.
The concerns were many. Mostly they related to the creeping environmental destruction and land clearing of native bush so close to the integral filtration systems of a major waterway into Jervis Bay. Moona Moona Creek is one of several essential water flows into Jervis Bay that sustains the biodiversity of the Bay.
The development application, it was alleged, was grossly under costed thereby trying to avoid the more stringent planning processes that apply to large scale development. How could this not be considered large scale? It was oversized even for Council regulations, asked for exemptions to meet parking requirements, failed to convince the council there were adequate fire protection measures, failed to adequately consider Aboriginal cultural issues, had contentious water quality assurance plans, presented inadequate surveys into the possible threat to vulnerable or endangered flora and fauna species and so it goes on.
Not surprisingly, the multi-storey (four-level) hotel and compartment block, complete with restaurant, swimming/spa pool and a ‘tropical’ feel, didn’t engage a lot of support from the community. Locals lovingly describe the undeveloped haven as ‘Magic Moona’.
Of course, you can’t please everyone when it comes to design and style, but the many submissions that came from locals made it adamantly clear that huge developments such as this were out of character with the feel of the small town. They clearly said they did not want the look or feel of the Gold Coast, the Central Coast or any other coast; they are proud of their beloved South Coast.
No wonder there was a sense of celebration last week when Council notified the 200 plus opponents to the Moona development that the DA was “no more”.
This development proposal was the last straw for the worried Jervis Bay residents seeing one development after another approved by Council, which they believe are not what the majority of people want. They are certainly not what our vulnerable land and seascape needs, especially post fires, floods, Covid and the escalating climate emergency.
The Moona Moona DA certainly mobilised a lot of people into action. What started as a ‘save Moona’ campaign proliferated into what is now more broadly titled Keep Jervis Bay Unspoilt. Our Future Shoalhaven Inc has been supporting the campaign and recruited a team of people to investigate the Moona Moona Creek situation and beyond. The dire situation Jervis Bay is heading into became apparent, and together we can do more than merely stopping the Moona Moona hotel and units.
There is no intention to stop the campaign based on this particular DA. It is quite common for impossibly large developments to be submitted, which are later withdrawn and then resubmitted with minor changes. We intend to avoid past experiences where the Council examines the new DA, considers that the applicant has listened to the people, congratulates them and approves the amended DA which still eludes community concerns and is outside LEP constraints in many areas. Knowing this is important; keeping up our guard is essential. As summer hits and everyone wants to take a break, we must ensure that things don’t sneak under the radar.
Our Future Shoalhaven will most definitely maintain the Keep Jervis Bay Unspoil campaign and keep a close eye on Moona.
To join or find out more about the campaign contact firstname.lastname@example.org