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Byron Shire
February 23, 2024

Lismore draft environmental plan back on display

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The draft passed with one amendment, moved by Cr Graham and seconded by Cr Marks, which will allow rural landowners to remove trees along fence lines without a Development Application (DA).

A motion by Cr Ekins to have the amendment withdrawn was lost.

Other issues covered by the amendment included the provision for churches to be built in light industrial zones.

Both Crs Graham and Ekins spoke passionately on the amendment, with Mayor Jenny Dowell at one stage advising Cr Ekins to speak ‘more respectfully’ and at another time bemusedly asking Cr Graham, who was talking about ‘the man on the land’, whether he would ever mention women.

There were two main changes to the DLEP from previous versions:

• the scaling back of rural zones to adopt the RU1 Primary Production zone as the main zone for the rural areas of Lismore; and

• the reduction in the area covered by the the E2 Environmental Conservation and E3 Environmental Management zones from 2.4 per cent of the Local Government Area (LGA) to just over one per cent.

A packed council chamber saw a public access session immediately before the council vote. Spaces were allowed for up to 30 ratepayers to address the council on their concerns but on the night only 14 people elected to speak.

Their concerns broadly mirrored those of the councillors, with farmers angry that they would lose control of treed areas of their land owing to the expansion of some environmental zones while conservationists were incited that the area under environmental zones had been drastically reduced.

Another issue of concern to farmers was the ban on building within riparian areas (including up to 40m from a waterway), although council staff said in this regard the DLEP only reflected existing state government legislation.

A small group from Rosebank argued that the northeast of the shire abutting Whian Whian State Forest and Nightcap National Park should retain the original proposed DLEP environmental conditions to maintain the integrity of the area and avert broad-scale development.

One speaker, Mal Fox, said ‘part of the reasoning behind the state government requiring new a new LEP was to increase environmental protection. This proposed LEP appears to reduce it.’

Kristin Den Exter from Wilsons River Landcare said, ‘Council has done a great job with its vision for biodiversity. But taking 2.4 per cent of land under environmental protection down to one per cent protection means mechanisms will not be there to ensure there will be no net biodiversity loss.’

A number of Lismore City residents were concerned that the new RU2 Rural Landscape Zone (which now only applies to flood-prone areas of urban Lismore) would rule out light industry, which is currently allowed.

Angela Albertini who runs an automotive business with her husband said the changes will impact on her ability to grow the business. She argued the RU2 rural landscape zone was inappropriate for areas in urban Lismore.

‘I’m sure council won’t be rezoning its own potential flood-prone land RU2,’ she argued.

Planning staff advised the hearing that the RU2 provisions do not rule out light industrial use, although they do rule out residential as the land potentially is flood prone.

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