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Planning excellence for turtle protection

2023 Planning Excellence Awards, planning turtle protection.
Mayor Jack Dempsey, Bethany Williams-Holthouse, Evan Fritz, Andrew Beckenhauer, Michael Ellery and CEO Steve Johnston with the 2023 Planning Excellence Awards.

Council’s efforts to safeguard sea turtles along the Bundaberg Region coastline have set “a blueprint for the rest of the state” as the project was recognised for planning excellence.

Bundaberg Regional Council received two prestigious awards for its Reducing Urban Glow project at the 2023 Queensland Awards for Planning Excellence, hosted in Brisbane on Friday evening.

Reducing Urban Glow first received a commendation in the Improving Planning Processes category before taking out an Award for Planning Excellence in the Wendy Chadwick Encouragement Award.

Group Manager Development Michael Ellery said it was the second time his Bundaberg Regional Council team had won this award.

“Both the Reducing Urban Glow and Turtle Protection project and its implementation within the planning scheme represents a lot of hard work over a long time with an outstanding level of commitment shown by the whole team,” Mr Ellery said.

“This was a whole-of-Council approach with the economic development and planning teams working together to achieve what is now a blueprint for the rest of the state to follow.

“This project has really set the benchmark and I’m incredibly proud of this groundbreaking work.”

Mayor Jack Dempsey echoed these sentiments.

“Congratulations to the hardworking team that has worked hard for this achievement over six years, since 2017,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“This is further recognition of Council’s commitment to protecting and preserving this slice of paradise we call home while continuing to innovate and lead the way with best practice initiatives.”

In front of an audience of nearly 350 guests, the Bundaberg Regional Council initiative was recognised among the best planning initiatives for the growing Queensland population, with nearly 70 nominees competing for prestigious award categories.

The Reducing Urban Glow and Protection of Sea Turtles project clinched the esteemed Wendy Chadwick Encouragement Award with PIA Queensland noting the recognition marked a hard-won victory achieved over six years, responding to concerns over proposed developments near sea turtle nesting areas.’

As part of the project Bundaberg Regional Council made critical amendments to its Planning Scheme to enhance the protection of sea turtles, ensuring development activities did not adversely impact nesting or turtle activity.

The expert judges were thoroughly impressed by the collaborative efforts exhibited by the project, emphasizing Council's close collaboration with the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, the Department of Environment and Science, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, and other key stakeholders.

The judges also noted the significant influence of the project, highlighting that the new Overlay Code developed for the initiative was subsequently implemented by the State Government as a Model Code and it informed the Draft Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan.

“Congratulations to Bundaberg Regional Council for this well-deserved recognition,” the judges said.

“Their commitment to the protection of sea turtles sets a commendable example for responsible and sustainable urban development.”

PIA Queensland President Shannon Batch said, for close to four decades, the Queensland Awards for Planning Excellence program had showcased planning projects and stimulated community interest and awareness about the importance of planning.

“Each year, the awards provide us with the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the range of great planning work being undertaken within Queensland – particularly the diversity of work that planners do, and the different ways it touches our community,” Ms Batch said.

More about the Reducing Urban Glow project

As part of the Reducing Urban Glow project, Council installed world first lighting solutions along the Bargara urban foreshore including a blend of turtle sensitive lighting and smart technology.

Deployed on both the esplanade pathway and adjacent road corridor, the smart technology enabled LED lights to automatically reduce lighting impact on marine turtle populations, yet remained responsive to community needs by temporarily increasing lighting levels when pedestrians and vehicles pass through the area.

Read more about the project here.

More on the Awards for Planning Excellence

More information on the 2023 PIA Queensland Awards for Planning Excellence winners can be found at: https://www.planning.org.au/aboutpianew/qld-award-winners/2023-queensland-award-winners

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  1. Shame Bundaberg Council doesn’t protect Woodgate Beach so the turtles can lay eggs without dying of exhaustion trying because there’s no beach left!

  2. Whilst this article seems to imply that everything has now been done to ensure the ongoing survival of sea turtles, nothing could be further from the truth!

    One of the main key performance criteria of an initial commonwealth government program grant the production of an initial data base of light readings. Council has never completed this aspect of the funding.
    This is very unfortunate as you can’t assess whether the light is in fact impacting on sea turtles unless there is a data base of light levels to measure the current or proposed light levels against.

    This lack of a suitable promised data base has to be addressed, as does other serious ongoing work by council, regional property owners, and involved turtle researchers to ensure the long term survival of the endangered loggerhead turtles.

    The work far from being over, has only just begun and much still needs to be done.

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