Darwin Regional Land Use Plan
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DARWIN REGIONAL LAND USE PLAN 2015 66 Of far greater hazard in the Darwin Region is the risk associated with saltwater crocodiles. The extensive coastal areas and tidal wetlands provide an ideal habitat for these reptiles. After decades of protection, crocodile numbers have significantly increased and they are increasingly appearing in fishing and recreation areas, placing pressure on catch and relocate programs. No regional land use plan can mitigate all hazard risks associated with wildlife, especially when conservation of natural habitats and species is among policy objectives. However, this plan cannot ignore the increasing potential for crocodile attacks and opportunities to provide for water based activities in localities that would be easier to monitor. Marine stinging jellyfish are another significant hazard associated with the marine environment that seasonally impinges on residents and tourists enjoyment of the marine environment. Strategies to mitigate wildlife-related hazard risks have potential to align with protecting people and property from other marine-related hazards, in particular biting insects and cyclonic storm tide. Biting Insects A much less obvious but equally potentially dangerous wildlife group is biting insects, particularly midges and mosquitoes. Major breeding areas for midges include the mangroves and associated tidal wetlands. The mobility of midges is enhanced by prevailing winds making areas downwind particularly susceptible. Although there is no evidence that midges carry human disease, some individuals suffer an almost unbearable reaction to bites. While some mosquito species endemic in the Darwin Region can be added to the nuisance list, other species are known carriers of human diseases including Malaria, Ross River Virus and Murray Valley Encephalitis. Although vigilant management has limited the impact of these diseases to date the proximity of carrier breeding sites to human populations (particularly urban density residential) can create a significant health risk. The land use plan takes seriously the major nuisance and public health hazards associated with insect breeding areas in mangroves, tidal wetlands and freshwater lagoons. The Biting Insects Map shows indicative buffers around sources of potentially unacceptable levels of biting insects. As high levels of human exposure to biting insects in urban residential areas will not be accepted, future more detailed planning must include site-specific investigations of potential breeding sites and of solutions to minimise biting insect exposure. In particular the extent of future urban residential areas at Holtze, Murrumujuk, Weddell and beyond will depend on investigations to determine appropriate responses to biting insect hazards. Appropriate responses will be refined in consultation with medical entomologists. Natural Hazard Risks Desired Regional Outcome Development that provides appropriate security for people and property. History in many parts of the world demonstrates that hazard risks for people and property can be exacerbated by irresponsible, ill-considered and imprudent development in the context of risks associated with the natural environment. The land use plan is founded on a comprehensive land use structure where location of existing and proposed land uses is determined following detailed evaluation of opportunities and constraints. The plan will therefore have a significant role in minimising the potential for future development to create new and unacceptable risks for people and property. The plan considers the range of diverse and complex natural hazard risks to people and property in the Darwin Region. Risks include wildlife, biting insects, destructive weather events and climate change. Key Natural Hazard Risk Management Objectives Minimise the potential impacts of biting insects on community health and amenity, particularly in choosing the location for and design of urban residential development. Adopt responses to risk associated with natural disasters that accord with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Strategy for Disaster Resilience, including: limiting the intensification of land use within the 1 per cent Annual Exceedence Probability (AEP) flood and storm tide level and locating new development above these levels adopting design responses during more detailed planning and design for future development and on an individual site basis to minimise the potential for damage from destructive weather events Recognise strategic planning responses, including engineering solutions that can provide opportunities for marine recreational activities safe from the risks of crocodiles and marine stingers. Environment Related Wildlife Darwin Region is home to a rare combination of native wildlife that can be a hazard to health and in extreme circumstance to life itself. In common with much of the rest of Australia, open space and conservation areas in the urban area provide habitat for snakes. While non-venomous snakes assist in vermin control their venomous relatives do occasionally find their way into suburban gardens creating a potential hazard.
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