Sunday, June 19, 2011

Don't sit back, make a difference

An issue with the modern generations is their inactivity in decision-making in either their neighbourhood, the political environment, their workplace, their family or anywhere decisions are required.

In discussion with some friends this morning we were chatting about some infrastructure development in their neighbourhood and the options that have been put forward by the infrastructure provider.  My friends were passionate about the option that was proposed through one of the last remaining patches of bushland/wetland in their area. That is, they don't want it to go through that area.

There are a number of options the infrastructure provider has put forward for comment and many others that have not been raised to the public. At present, placing the infrastructure through the environmental reserve is the easiest option and therefore one the project manager would definitely prefer. You may ask, why is the environmental reserve option the easiest option? Well, without any public outcry, the infrastructure provider would only have to deal with the local government, as the current custodian of this land, and this does not pose much restraint when community infrastructure is seeking an easement or land. It is certainly much easier to deal with than a commercial entity who is looking at lost profit and therefore potentially significant compensation or a number of home-owners who feel passionately about their home that they have lived in for the last X number of years. All the infrastructure developer would need to do is come up with a suitable compensatory package and certainly in my experience and many project managers' experience this is much cheaper and more politically stable option than dealing with the other landholders and economic interests.

I know that many people have concerns for the retention of environmental spaces and parks within their local neighbourhoods, but without communication of this concern to the decision makers and project managers these intact, environmental area will always end up having the conflicting landuse placed in them or being sacrificed to. They don't have a voice, they don't have traditional economic value and they certainly don't have anyone putting up significant or costly barriers to their resumption and/or development. There isn't anyone else but the general public and caring souls to defend these areas. Commercial activities/industries, schools, churches, recreation facilities all have significant groups of interested people attached to them and thus will always have a voice and someone defending their interests till the last battle. This doesn't seem to be the case for most environmental areas.

It is important to realise we are the voice of the environmental reserves, national parks, conservation reserves, wildlife, threatened plants and animals, marine parks, remote locations, environmental water allocations, groundwater quality, etc, etc. If we don't stand up and put our voice forward and express our concerns about particular developments within these area, the developments will also win and the environment will continue to lose. Economic interests will always prevail and our land will end up being over-developed, over-utilised, degraded, without recognition of the public's concerns for these areas and values.

Speak up! If there is a chance to put your view forward it is important to do so. And if there isn't an invited comment period take the first step and engage in the process. You can contact your local politicians, the infrastructure developers, the general land developer or the agent of land use change. Stand up and be heard! Take action now or it will be too late! Pin It

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