Tennyson Dunes - Conservation Reserve

I seek leave to make an explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation regarding the remnant dune system between Grange and Semaphore.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Honourable members may recall that an 11 hectare site which is often referred to as the Tennyson Dunes was declared a conservation reserve by this minister Hunter in September last year. This initiative had multipartisan support as it was a commitment from both major parties prior to the election—and I am assuming that the Greens supported that as well.

The Hon. M.C. Parnell interjecting:

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I have an indication of yes from the Leader of the Greens. However, this is not the only section of remnant coastal dunes on that part of our metropolitan coast. Sections of the same dunal system which are north and south of the conservation reserve are potentially under threat, depending on the type of construction of a shared pathway for the coastal park. I understand that proposed amendments to the management plan for those corridors by the City of Charles Sturt received 157 objections with only one in favour. I also understand that were these fragile remnants located outside the metropolitan area they would receive some protection under the Native Vegetation Act given the significant native vegetation contained therein.

A letter from Professor Chris Daniels to Ms Valerie Wales, who is of the Tennyson Dunes Support Group, dated 17 June 2014 refers to 22 hectares of primary dunes in that region, and he advocates for their protection. I quote from his letter:

The effect of bisecting the Dunes system centrally and along its length, with a raised cycle pathway will have the effect of:

1. subdividing the park…

2. Shared paths between cyclists and walkers, roller bladders, skate boarders and pram pushers will lead to collisions and injury…

3. There are very easy options for running the cycle path out of the dunes in the Tennyson Dunes section and then returning the cycle path to the coast, north and south of the Dunes. Hence all users can be serviced safely.

He then goes on to say:

There are significant risks associated with running a pathway through the dunes, which will simultaneously do significant damage. There are excellent and safer alternatives.

My questions are:

1. Has the state government undertaken an EIS or similar process for this project?

2. Is the expertise of Professor Daniels continuing to be sought regarding this specific matter?

3. Has the government considered whether any liabilities may arise from diminution of the dunal system, which may result in property damage during storms?

4. Who does the minister advise aggrieved constituents to contact in government, given that the local member seems to be in lock step with the City of Charles Sturt?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:30 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions, although there is some confusion in her mind, I suspect, in terms of the drafting of the questions. There is a number of issues to be dealt with here. One of them is in fact Tennyson Dunes itself. It is a very important biodiverse area, which we recognise generally as Tennyson Dunes. There are other remnant dunal systems which abut Tennyson Dunes, of course, and which are of a significantly lower biodiversity value and which do not have anything like the biodiversity value of the Tennyson Dunes system itself. Of course discussions then about the bicycle pathway or the coast park impinge on that discussion, whether we are talking about the low biodiversity section or the high biodiversity section, where there are different views.

I do understand, of course, that there are differences of views in the council area, a difference of views from local government, from residents and particularly from people who have for a long time been associated with Tennyson Dunes. I always pay a lot of attention to their views because they volunteer their time and their efforts to make sure that that fantastic section of the coast is looked after. They are a very important natural coastal reminder of the original dunes system that was once common along the Adelaide metropolitan coastline, but no more, but in recognition of their significance and to protect this area for the future I dedicated the Tennyson Dunes as a coastal conservation reserve under the Crown Lands Management Act, 2009 on 13 September 2015.

A Tennyson Dunes working group, including members from the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, the City of Charles Sturt and the Tennyson Dunes Group will be providing advice to me on the overall management of the Tennyson Dunes conservation reserve. Habitat restoration work at Tennyson Dunes is undertaken by the department in liaison with community groups and the City of Charles Sturt. This continued investment in the dunes, initiated by the Patawalonga and Torrens catchment water management boards and Coastcare in the 1990s, now continues. Additional resourcing has now been made available through the Adelaide Living Beaches program as well, I am advised.

The Tennyson Dunes Coast Park Concept Report was developed late last year after consultation with the Tennyson Dunes Group and the City of Charles Sturt. The concept plan proposes a shared use discovery trail be developed that promotes the unique environment and aesthetic values to be found in this dune reserve. Stakeholder engagement commenced in January of this year, and was completed, I am advised, on 8 April. The goal of this phase was to listen to key stakeholders on their views for potential routes of the pathway through the Tennyson conservation park.

I expect to receive a summary of that stakeholder engagement shortly. Once I receive and consider those views, I would be happy to update the honourable member and the chamber on this very important issue—and it is a very important issue—so that we get it right. By way of extra information, Tennyson Dunes has been nominated, I understand, to the South Australian Heritage Council for consideration as a potential entry in the South Australian Heritage Register as a state heritage place. As per the agreed South Australian Heritage Council schedule, the department will seek to undertake an assessment of the state heritage values of the dunes. If the South Australian Heritage Council determines that the dunes are of state heritage significance, they will provisionally be entered in the South Australian Heritage Registrar. That is a decision for the council, not for me.

Should the dunes provisionally be entered in the register, owners of the land and members of the public will have a period of three months to provide written representations to the council on whether the entry in the register should be confirmed as required under the act, and the council (the Heritage Council, not the local government council) will consider the available evidence and any submissions received before determining whether the provisional entry should be confirmed or removed from the register.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 14:34 ): By way of supplementary question arising from the minister's answer, given that he intimated in his response that the area that is not part of the coastal reserve system does not have the same level of biodiversity values, what assessments can he advise the council have been undertaken for him to have reached that conclusion?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:34 ): It is a conclusion that has been arrived at by the department and conveyed to me in their advice. I would say, if the honourable member is interested, I can ask for that information to be provided to her, but it would be information, I assume, that has been provided through DEWNR and the NRM board.