Dear Mr Watson
I refer to your letter of 21 February 2017 to the Chief Minister and Minister Gentleman, and your letter of 28 January 2017 to all MLAs, about the Ginninderry development. As this matter falls within my portfolio responsibilities, I am responding to both letters on behalf of the ACT Government.
I have inspected Ginninderra Falls and am aware of the landscape and cultural significance of the falls and the Ginninderra Gorge. I have been briefed on the measures that are proposed to be put in place by the Ginninderry project, particularly the inclusion of the Falls and Gorge in a conservation corridor to be managed by an environmental management trust, and I am confident that these will be appropriate.
Planning for the area commenced in 2011 and included two public workshops: A Community Vision & Values workshop held at the Holt Hub on 11 November 2013 and a Planning and Design forum held over a three day period at the Belconnen CIT campus on 12 November 2013. These sessions were 'hands-on' planning workshops where the master planning for the site was developed with input from technical consultants, government agencies and community participants. I understand that you and your organisation were active participants in these sessions. The master planning process has been supported by a number of technical reports produced prior to the workshops and since. Those of particular relevance to the falls area are detailed in Attachment A.
You refer to the need for close negotiation between the ACT and NSW Governments to ensure that servicing arrangements are appropriately dealt with and I am pleased to advise you that this is well in hand. A working group comprising senior officials from the relevant ACT, NSW and Vass Valley Shire agencies was convened in 2015 and has worked through the various aspects of cross border servicing arrangements. The three Governments are now confident that satisfactory arrangements are, or can be, put in place.
I understand that, apart from material relating to Aboriginal cultural heritage that must remain confidential, all of this work has been made available to you and that you have participated in a regular series of meetings since 2011, generally monthly and ongoing, with the Ginninderry project team to discuss its implications. This has included a site visit to Apsley Fall in northern NSW, which was suggested by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage as a possible model for the visitor management at Ginninderra Falls. The above suggests that the response of the Ginninderry project team to the collection of background data, including a broad spectrum of community views has been well executed and thorough and that the views of you and your organisation, in particular, have been able to be put forward in a robust and constructive manner. I urge you to continue to maintain this dialogue and bring forward any specific issues you feel need further attention. In terms of your request for a Legislative Assembly inquiry, I do not believe that this approach is warranted at this time. There has already been extensive consideration given to the project through the statutory process required by the rezoning work leading to the Variation to the Territory Plan 351, and the assessment under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. There is also the rezoning process that is a matter for decision by the NSW Government and Yass Valley Shire Council. I am assured that the NSW planning process is rigorous and will include proper consideration of all relevant environmental matters. It will also include opportunities for public exhibition of planning proposals and for public comment, and I recommend you participate in this process.
I would be happy to meet with you and the Ginninderry Joint Venture partners to discuss this matter further. If you would like to meet, please contact my office on (02} 6205 0233 to arrange a convenient time.
Yvette Berry MLA
Deputy Chief Minister