This is the first State of Environment (SoE) Report for the Central Coast and includes the following seven key chapters:
- Climate and Energy
Each chapter follows the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) model with progress indicators used to summarise the environmental status, trend, and data/information reliability. Below is a summary of progress against each chapter:
Air quality for NSW is managed by NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. Based on the data, Central Coast air quality remains good, with a stable trend. The main impact on air quality for the Central Coast is increased use of private vehicles, wood smoke and industrial activity.
Biodiversity covers plants, animals, fungi, insects, microorganisms, their genes and the ecosystems they form. The indicators for Biodiversity (flora, fauna and ecological communities) are all tracking poor, with a getting worse trend for the Central Coast. Some of the pressures impacting biodiversity include climate change, disturbance of native vegetation by unauthorised activities, fragmentation and degradation, industrial and urban expansion, invasive plant and animal species, and human population growth. To protect and conserve these delicate ecosystems a draft Biodiversity Strategy has been developed, with a target to adopt in late 2020.
Climate and Energy
Climate and energy focusses on not just the community aspects of climate change, but also tracks Council’s corporate contribution to it. The indicators for Climate and Energy include greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and renewable energy. These are tracking moderate, with a getting better or stable trend across the community and Council. The main pressures include human population growth, energy use and on-road transport. In response, Council has also developed the Climate Change Policy which aims to mitigate and adapt to impacts related to emissions and climate change. The community and Council are both doing their part, with the number of solar system installations in this region increasing year on year.
The Land chapter covers the natural environment, open space and recreation and the volunteers that care and carry out land management activities. Across the various indicators which included adequate land and facilities available and volunteer numbers, the Central Coast is tracking good, with a stable trend. The main pressures that impact are human population growth and the need to balance land use, resourcing and volunteer management. A number of strategies are underway to ensure land is managed to meet current and future needs and that opportunities to expand volunteer programs are realised.
Transport allows people and goods to get from place to place, but the various modes of transportation can impact on the environment. The Central Coast is overwhelmingly reliant on private vehicles with indicators for the road network, use of public transport and other modes varying between good and moderate, and trending in a mostly stable pattern. NSW Transport has developed Future Transport 2056, which includes a range of infrastructure and service initiatives being delivered to meet future demand, whilst also encouraging travel by public and active transport (such as walking and cycling), rather than by private car.
Waste management across the Central Coast is tracking good to moderate, with a stable trend. Central Coast residents generated 168,243 tonnes of waste in 2018-19, of which 59% (98,511 tonnes) was sent to landfill and 41% (69,732 tonnes) was recovered. The Waste Strategy has been developed to explore opportunities to reduce and avoid waste, whilst ensuring flexibility to adapt to emerging trends or industry changes.
The Water chapter covers the various rivers, creeks, wetlands, lakes, estuaries, lagoons and beaches that collectively make up the Central Coast’s natural waterways. Across the nine ecological health and water quality indicators, two are tracking good, two are tracking poor and the remaining are variable, with a stable trend. The main pressures include natural hazards such as storm events or sea-level rises, development activities such as land clearing near coastal, estuary and catchment areas, and water pollution such as stormwater run-off or sewage overflows. To manage this, Council develops various floodplain, estuary, wetland and coastline strategic plans, which identify natural hazards, prioritise actions, guide the delivery of on ground works, monitor ecological health and water quality, and deliver programs to educate and engage the community.