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Byron Shire
April 16, 2024

Last ditch opposition to West Byron development

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[author]Ray Moynihan and Chris Dobney[/author]

With just two days remaining before the exhibition of plans for the proposed West Byron Development are due to close, North Coast Environment Council (NCEC) is the latest organisation to come out swinging against it.

And now Byron Shire Council has called for a halt to the rezoning.

NCEC President Susie Russell has raised the issue in relation to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, making the point that Australian governments are still largely in denial over global warming.

‘West Byron is a case in point,’ she says.

‘The development will see about 1000 homes, plus retail and industrial buildings, built on the floodplain of the Belongil Creek.

‘Developing the floodplain of a coastal estuary is not wise. With sea levels rising and rainfall intensifying due to climate change it will subject future landowners to massive risks and hardships.

‘Scientists have been telling us that one in a 100 year floods can [now] be expected every 20 years. This is consistent with what we are seeing in northern NSW.

‘If the NSW government accepts this “concept” and rezones this floodplain for residential, retail and industrial development, will the taxpayers of NSW be responsible for picking up the tab for flood damage to this suburban infrastructure?’

Council opposed

Meanwhile Byron Shire Council wants the state government to hold off considering the rezoning of West Byron until broad transport issues, including traffic by-passes, are resolved

In a motion which passed narrowly last Thursday, Council said the rezoning should not proceed until ‘adequate arrangements and funding’ are in place so transport issues can be addressed to the ‘satisfaction of Council and the community.’

Another motion from the Greens councillors rejecting the West Byron development was narrowly defeated.

Mayor and state member Jan Barham is strongly opposed to West Byron saying it is the ‘wrong location’ and the site is ‘inherently unsuitable’ because of its proximity to wildlife corridors, dangers to plant and animal life and threats to the health of the local waterways. ‘It would be irresponsibility for us to allow that site to be further developed,’ she said.

And Echonetdaily reported last Friday that local environmentalist Dailan Pugh has expressed grave fears about the potential for extra pollution flowing into the neighbouring estuary and wetlands. ‘It could well be the death of Belongil Creek,’ said Mr Pugh. See our video report and further comments from Mr Pugh by clicking on the picture above.

Echonetdaily requested an interview with the landowners, but was unable to talk to any of them. West Byron’s media relations are being managed by Ms Carolyn Swindell, from a firm called Charlie Sierra, which specialises in ‘reputation’ and ‘crisis’ management as well as communications.

According to its website, ‘Charlie Sierra can help you understand what your reputation is and help you chart the course for protecting and improving it.’ Along with media relations, the firm also boasts skills in ‘measuring and understanding how you’re currently viewed’ and ‘refining your company’s voice and using it to shift debate’.

Asked why the West Byron landowner’s group had hired a firm specialising in reputation and crisis management, Ms Swindell said she wore a ‘number of hats, not all at the same time’ and that she had provided ‘media relations support’ for the project since mid-2010.

For more information or to lodge an objection to the proposal visit the state government’s major projects website.

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