Sunday, March 1, 2009

North Richmond & Districts Community Action Association concerned about proposed development

Time to Save Yeomans' Keyline Farm

Yeomans' unique, world-class Keyline (landscape and dam) farming system is currently under major threat by a proposed housing development (at 108 Grose Vale Road) in North Richmond.

The recently formed ‘North Richmond and Districts Community Action Association' (NRDCAA) would like to inform our community, and beyond, that developers have applied (proposal DA0852/08) to build a Seniors Living Complex on medium density housing lots, on this unique property. They plan to bulldoze two of the original Keyline dams, which currently collect excess water (preventing flooding), and make it available for the maintenance of a healthy landscape and river system, and for local fire control and prevention.

Council were also briefed by the developer, which involves nearly 2,000 homes as the extended plan for the site in November 2008. This development would require the land to be rezoned; thereby destroying what should rightfully be conserved as a National Heritage site.

If we don't address this problem now by way of the HCC "Community Strategic Plan", this invaluable rural amenity could be lost forever. Let's not have another Pitt Town or Rouse Hill type over-development within our area. It would be a major catastrophe, not only for our municipality, but also for Australia and the world, if this proposal were to be approved.

Yobarnie, the site of Yeomans' [carbon] farming Keyline System, was established in the 1940s and ‘50s. At that time Yeomans led the world in designing landscapes that can capture carbon dioxide (more effectively than by planting trees - thereby effectively addressing the climate change challenge), prevent flooding and fire, create productive soils (much faster than had ever been achieved before: an inch of topsoil in three years; normally it takes over 1,000 years), and conserve biodiversity.

Australia, in having access to this working model of genuinely sustainable farm and landscape design and management, is in a more favourable position than the rest of the world, as we all face the challenges of climate change and water related crises. BUT, the value of this asset needs to be recognised, conserved, learned from, and the model further developed.

If this unique beacon of hope for the future is bulldozed and built over, Australia, and the rest of the world, will have lost its oldest and most important model of sustainable landscape and farm design and management.

Yeomans' Keyline System provided part of the inspiration and guidance for the subsequent development of Permaculture, which is increasingly being recognised as one of the most sustainable approaches to food and renewable energy production throughout the world.

More recently, Yeomans' discoveries have been tested favourably in Marin County by researchers at the University of California Berkeley (with the help of Darren Doherty from Victoria), in a project to capture carbon in ranch-land soils.

Given that Yeomans contributed more to solving our climate, water and fire problems than any other farmer, it would seem important to our national heritage that the farms on which he developed his Keyline system should be maintained as a National Heritage site for all present and future generations. If properly managed, this could also be expected to have huge tourism value, and the local environment will be able to continue to benefit from the environmental protection services provided by the property, including preventing pollutants seeping into the Hawkesbury River.

For further information please contact 0421 985 162

Time to act. Issued on Behalf of the North Richmond & District Community Action Association

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