Northern Beaches Council has resolved to prepare draft Plans of Management for areas proposed for a potential dog off-leash trial at Governor Phillip Park in Palm Beach and Mona Vale Beach (south).

Plans of Management are legally required before Council can make a decision to progress the potential trials.

Mayor Sue Heins said that Council carefully considered the outcomes of a comprehensive environmental assessment, diverse community feedback and other investigations.

“Before we make a decision about whether or not to proceed with a potential trial, we must prepare the plans of management, and this requires us to work through a number of mandatory processes carefully.”

“It’s important we balance the needs of dog owners with those of others in the community as well as look after our environment,” Mayor Heins said.

“Community feedback was detailed and varied. While we recognise a common concern from residents relating to dog owners not complying with the conditions of the trial, we acknowledge that there is also support for a trial.”

Council also sought feedback from the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, NSW Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, and Crown Lands.

One of the next steps involves negotiating with Crown Lands for Council to obtain care, control, and management of much of the land being considered under the draft plans of management and proposed trials.

Council undertook a comprehensive environmental assessment, also known as the Review of Environmental Factors (REF), of the two locations at Governor Phillip Park in Palm Beach and Mona Vale Beach (south). The community’s views were also considered and integrated as amendments to the environmental assessment.

“The environmental assessment revealed that the potential impacts of the proposed trials are considered unlikely to have significant impacts.

“We appreciate the community’s patience while we continue to explore the necessary steps and due diligence before we make any decision in relation to a potential trial,” Mayor Heins added.

Given the complexity of the regulations that Council has had to navigate, the work on the REF, legal pathways and community engagement have been extensive.

Preparing the plans of management will commence shortly.

About the community engagement:

Public exhibition of the draft environmental assessment ran between 11 August 2022 to 11 September 2022. Since then, Council reviewed all 879 submissions to ensure we fully understand the community’s views and identified 1583 issues that needed thorough consideration. These were grouped into some 18 themes, with the most common themes and percentage of overall comments being:

  • Compliance/social responsibility of owners (17%)
  • How soon can the trial start (16%)
  • Aesthetic and recreational quality value (14%)
  • Equality/user conflict/safety (11%)
  • Trial parameters (9%)
  • Assessing the trial (8%)
  • Biodiversity (8%)
  • Waste management (5%)
  • Traffic/access and parking (3%)

Less common themes were grouped under noise, Aboriginal archaeology, historical heritage, human health and water quality, socioeconomic/land use, infrastructure (fencing, signage, bins), construction (REF), policy regulation and consultation about the proposal.

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