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June 23, 2024

Ballina Coastcare holds out hope for environmental hotspot

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The future of 35 hectares of top environmental land surrounding Flat Rock Tent Park at north Angels Beach remains under a cloud, but there may be a distant glimmer of light, according to Ballina Coastcare.

Owned as freehold by Ballina Council, a proposal to reclassify the commercially unused sections of the land from Operational to Community land was knocked back by Council at its October meeting.

Despite a petition signed by more than 400 people and almost 18 months of lobbying, only one Greens councillor supported the motion.

But Ballina Coastcare secretary Dr Lee Andresen told Echonetdaily that he was convinced council could be persuaded on the issue ‘down the track’.

‘Council gave six reasons for knocking it back. We have made a substantial response demonstrating five of the reasons were either invalid or trivial,’ he said yesterday.

One reason council gave that Dr Andresen admitted did have merit was the impending finalisation of a shared foreshore cycle and walkway.

‘Part of the pathway will go through the council land. Council has argued it will be easier formally to put the path over the land while it is classified as Operational. They say that changing the classification beforehand could make the process “more cumbersome”.

‘This gives us hope that once the plans are in place for the shared pathway they might think again about reclassifying it.’

Cr Sharon Cadwallader, who is one of the representatives of B Ward in which the land is situated, broadly agreed that council could be open to considering reclassification once the pathway plans are complete.

But she also raised further issues that could stand in the way of imminent reclassification.

‘It would not be appropriate before the footprint of the shared pathway has been signed off – and that is yet to be considered’ she told Echonetdaily.

‘Also plans for Flat Rock Tent Park need to be fully developed.’

Cr Cadwallader would not be drawn on whether she thought the Flat Rock Tent Park could expand into some of the council land, which has the highest environmental rating of any land in the shire.

‘We’d be looking for a more comprehensive report from staff next time before we went ahead,’ she said.

Meanwhile, Ballina Coastcare has addressed a B-Ward advisory meeting. Dr Andresen said members ‘listened carefully to our appeal for the matter to be reconsidered.

‘They unanimously adopted a motion urging our three B-Ward councillors – Jeff Johnson, Sharon Cadwallader and Peter Moore – to either rescind the October resolution or else agree to support the issue being reconsidered after a fresh report to council in three months’ time.

‘That’s actually good news for the East Ballina community,’ he said.

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