Soils of the plateau of the Central Coast, New South Wales

Soils of the plateau of the central coast
The Report on the Survey of Soils of the Central Coast Plateau of NSW not only shows soil types but also provides an indication of agricultural suitability of tracts of land using a rating from highly to less suitable along a scale of classes from 1 to 5 respectively.  It also shows the location of sensitive wetland areas.  Consequently, the Report provides the technical underpinning for Sydney Regional Environmental Plan No. 8 - Central Coast Plateau Areas (SREP 8 (1986).

The field work for this landscape study was undertaken by Cedric Hawkins and Nawash Haddad during 1980-81.  Laboratory assessment of soil properties continued until 1984.  The geology, geomorphology and pedological history of the area are examined to help explain the pattern and properties of the soils.  The morphological, physical and chemical properties of the soils are presented and discussed.

Undertaking the soil landscape study of the Somersby Plateau (Plateau) demonstrates the importance of connecting science and the development of resource management policy.  This comprehensive soil study not only shows soil types; it also provides an indication of agricultural suitability using a rating from highly suitable to less suitable on a scale of class 1 to class 5 respectively and the location of sensitive wetland areas.

In August 1986 the gazetting of Sydney Regional Environmental Plan No. 8 - Central Coast Plateau Areas (SREP 8) endeavoured to provide certainty for agricultural development and prevent sterilization of extractive resources.  A map of the agricultural suitability based on Butch Hawkins 300 soil pit samples dug to hard sandstone provided the basis for SREP 8 and enabled evidence-based land use planning.  The completion of this soil landscape report provides transparent access to the comprehensive scientific evaluation of the Plateau’s soil resources which underpins SREP8.

Initially SREP 8 controlled ad hoc non-primary industry development on identified prime agricultural land (class 1 to 3) through referral to the NSW Director-General (DG) of Agriculture.  Subsequent gazettal of the Wyong – Gosford Local Environmental Plan 2001 continues the aims of SREP 8 without the compulsory referral to the DG of Agriculture.  However, with the support of Gosford and Wyong Councils the referral of contentious development within agricultural zones that may impact on agricultural investment has successfully controlled non-complimentary agricultural / extractive industries development, and has managed for the future the valuable soil resources and rural land on the Plateau.

The soil landscape report for the Plateau is an important addition to the knowledge of soils within the greater Sydney region; the reference can continue to inform the preparation of policies such as the NSW Soils Policy and give support to land use planners and development consent authorities decision making.