Wednesday, 05 October 2022 12:29

Population growth, development are eating Sydney’s food belt Featured

Peri-urban agricultural land was reduced by 66% Peri-urban agricultural land was reduced by 66% Image by WSROC

Land on the fringes of Greater Sydney set aside for growing vegetables, eggs, flowers, and other agricultural commodities was reduced by two-thirds (66%) in just five years, according to a recent study into urban sprawl on the city’s outskirts.

The land — classified as ‘peri-urban agricultural’ — was reduced from 292,644 hectares to 99,519 hectares, a loss of 193,124 hectares driven mainly by urban development.

In general, the term ‘peri-urban agricultural land’ refers to areas beyond the metropolitan fringe, at the interface between city and country.

Most seriously affected by urban sprawl was agricultural land on the outskirts of Greater Western Sydney, whose population is expected to increase from its current 2.4 million to 4.1 million in 2041.

According to the speri urban view smalltudy, market forces are also incentivising the development of peri-urban agricultural land.

By simply rezoning ‘primary production’ land in Western Sydney’s Blacktown City area as ‘high-density residential’, its market value increases from $12,387 per hectare to nearly $10.5 million per hectare (as of 1 July 2020) – close to an 85,000 per cent increase!

However, according to the report, local councils are often powerless to prevent the loss of agricultural land, with many planning decisions imposed on them by the NSW Government.

The findings are contained in a study undertaken by Amy Lawton, of information and research service WESTIR Limited, and Nicky Morrison, of the School of Social Sciences at Western Sydney University.

According to the authors of the report, Greater Western Sydney has traditionally been seen as the ‘Food Bowl’ of the Sydney Metropolitan Region.

“However, food production loss in the region is predicted to continue due to ongoing population growth placing acute pressure on remaining agricultural and rural lands, particularly for housing.”

“Further, and like many city regions internationally, Sydney has been hit by several shocks and stresses in recent times, highlighting the potential role of peri-urban agricultural land and its activities to not only local food security but to the overall functioning and resilience of the city and its region.”

“The New South Wales government decision in 2006, to legislate two priority North West and South West Growth Areas, in particular, precipitated considerable loss of agricultural and rural lands to urban development in the GWS region.”

“Notable tensions exist between state and local government decision-making in managing population growth and housing pressures while trying to protect existing peri-urban agricultural land and activity,” say the authors.

The study used so-called ‘Mesh Block’ data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics between 2011 and 2016 and which broadly identifies land uses in categories such as residential, commercial, primary production and parkland.

Further analysis was undertaken using satellite imagery to measure changes to designated urban growth areas and peri-urban rural land in areas termed Metropolitan Rural Areas (MRAs).

For a full copy of the report, follow the link.

Last modified on Thursday, 06 October 2022 12:45

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