CENTRAL COAST MAYOR Jane Smith spoke about the wetlands this week and said they were a critical part of our natural environment and important for biodiversity.
Davistown wetlands: Council in negotiations to buy land
More than 18 months after rare Davistown saltmarsh wetlands were put on the market for $124 million, Central Coast Council is inching toward buying them — but for how much?
More than 18 months after rare Davistown wetlands were put on the market with an asking price of $124 million, Central Coast Council is inching toward buying them.
*But the sale price is likely to be considerably less than that after the 19.26 hectares of environmentally sensitive land were passed in at auction in October 2017 with a single “lowball” bid of $7 million.
The land is also subject to complicated low density residential and conserservation zonings which are thought to make significant development unlikely.
Central Coast Council last week voted to investigate the “condition and status” of the land parcels in Lillipilli St, Pine Ave, Kincumber Cres, and Malinya Rd and to start negotiations with the land owner, Ettalong Beach businessman Tony Altavilla.
The matter was discussed in confidential session but council is seeking “a fair and reasonable price” to buy the land which, if successful, would be reclassified as community land and “binding protections” placed on it.
Save Davistown Wetlands Committee member Jo — Anne Lloyd said the community hoped agreement could be reached between council and the owner.
“We are waiting with bated breath with all our fingers and toes crossed” Mrs Lloyd said.
“At least the discussion is progressing — but our main issue is still the protection of the wetlands — ideally in public hands,” she said.
“If council is able to buy the wetlands, we hope they will not just leave them but will also look after them.”
Mrs Lloyd said the land could potentially be used for environmental education.”
Davistown wetlands were listed for sale under the name “Tidal Shoals” in 2017 with a slick advertising campaign promoting the land as an “opportunity for an astute investor or syndicate”.
Shortly after a packed public meeting was held with hundreds of people protesting about the sale of the land for possible development.
Central coast Mayor Jane Smith spoke about the wetlands this week and said they were a critical part of our natural environment and important for biodiversity.
“They provide habitat for animals and plants that may not be found elsewhere and important for the health of our estuaries,” Cr Smith said.
“Council has resolved to look to acquire the Davistown wetlands to ensure their permanent protection.
An important part of that resolution is that if they are acquired, the land is reclassified as community land and a binding conservation agreement is investigated so that they remain permanently protected in public hands,” she said.
“That is the outcome we want. Permanent protection for wetlands and our natural reserves is crucial and a priority for Council.
“Council recently reaffirmed its commitment to protect and improve the biodiversity and environmental value of the Coastal Open Space System (COSS) and COSS will be expanded into the north of the Central Coast.
“Council has already made moves to protect the Porters Creek wetland, the largest freshwater wetland on the Central Coast, too with a push for its reclassification to community land and for international recognition.”
■ Saltmarshes occur at the upper levels of intertidal zones and are often found on the landward side of mangroves.
■ There are an estimated 118 hectares of saltmarsh left in the Gosford area — including some at Davistown and Saratoga.
■ Other examples are protected in small reserves at Cockle Bay, on Riley’s Island and on Pelican Island.
■ One of the interesting characteristics of salt marches is that they contain a small number of plant types but all of them are uniquely adapted to dealing with their salty environment.
■ Saltmarshes act as fish nurseries for some juvenile commercial fish and crab species and reduce the among of sediments and nutrients which run off into the estuary.
■ Saltmarshes are listed as Endangered Ecological Communities in NSW as they are in danger of becoming extinct.