Strategic assessment of Heathcote Ridge, West Menai State Significant Site (Sydney, NSW)

On 16 November 2011, the Australian Government entered into an agreement with the Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council (GLALC) to undertake a strategic assessment of the proposed development at Heathcote Ridge, NSW in accordance with section 146 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The Heathcote Ridge Draft Program Report sets out the planning, development and conservation guidelines and principles for urban development, associated infrastructure and conservation zones at the Heathcote Ridge site.

Development proposed at Heathcote Ridge, West Menai

The Heathcote Ridge site contains 849 ha of mostly undeveloped land in the West Menai area, covering parts of the southern Sydney suburbs of Menai, Barden Ridge and Lucas Heights. The site is currently zoned '1(b) Rural (Future Urban)' under the Sutherland Shire LEP 2000.

The proponent, GLALC, is seeking to list the subject site as a State Significant Site and rezone the land to allow for:

  • 566 hectares of conservation land;
  • 182.7 hectares of residential land, proposed to accommodate approximately 2,400 dwellings;
  • 70 hectares of employment land, proposed to provide up to 15,000 jobs; and
  • New roads, bridges and community facilities.

More information about the proposed development is available at the Heathcote Ridge website.

Figure 1 – Location of Heathcote Ridge site, Sydney, NSW.

Map showing location of Heathcote Ridge development site, Sydney, NSW.

Source: Arben Management

Strategic assessment and public consultation processes

Environmental studies at the Heathcote Ridge site identified populations or habitat for several matters of national environmental significance, protected under the EPBC Act. These include the threatened ecological communities Shale Sandstone Transition Forest (endangered), Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest (critically endangered), and threatened species such as Acacia bynoeana (vulnerable) and Melaleuca deanii (vulnerable). Given the presence of these protected matters, the impacts of development at the Heathcote Ridge site were assessed under the EPBC Act.

Figure 2. Proposed Heathcote Ridge development overlay on aerial image.

Proposed Heathcote Ridge development overlay on aerial image

Source: Arben Management

The draft Heathcote Ridge Program Report and draft Heathcote Ridge Strategic Assessment Report, prepared as part of the EPBC Act strategic assessment, were on public exhibition from 14 December 2011 to 29 February 2012, to provide the opportunity for public submissions regarding the impacts of this proposal on matters of national environmental significance.

This was a joint exhibition and public comment process run by the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure that met the requirements of the EPBC Act and state planning processes. Public comments submitted and the response to submissions relating to the strategic assessment are contained in the document Response to EPBC Submissions Heathcote Ridge, West Menai

Endorsement and approval

On 30 May 2013, the Program Report for the Strategic Assessment of the Heathcote Ridge Development, West Menai, under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council, February 2013) was endorsed under the national environment law.

On 24 June 2013, an approval was granted for classes of actions under the endorsed program that allows for development and other related activities identified in the program to proceed without the need for further approval from the Australian Government environment minister.