Story Chris Dobney Photo Luis Feliu
Member for Ballina Don Page has weighed into a dispute between the Ballina Ratepayers Association and Ballina Shire Council.
In an open letter, the Association has called on Council to withdraw the shire’s draft Local Environment Plan (LEP), demanding further exhibition time and calling for more public discussion.
The letter claims many landholders whose properties are set to be rezoned E2 or E3 (environmental protection zones) have not been made aware by Council of the planned changes or their implications.
The Association describes the proposed rezonings as ‘highly suspect’ and claims an unnamed ‘minority group has unfairly and inappropriately swayed Council’s decision-making power and has clouded the judgment of staff.’
‘The proposed rezonings are not supported by any independent economic, environmental, social or other impact studies about the consequences of rezoning large tracts of land used for tourism and agriculture,’ the letter says.
Ballina MP and member for local government Don Page told ABC radio this morning that he had discussed the matter with the council’s planners and did have some issues about the implementation of E2 zonings in particular.
Mr Page said he was concerned that the more restrictive E2 zoning was being implemented too widely. The E3 zoning was mostly related to scenic escarpments and water catchment, and would allow all existing agricultural land uses to continue, he said.
He said he would raise the matter with the Department of Planning.
According to the NSW Department of Planning, E2 zoning ‘is for areas with high ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic values outside national parks and nature reserves. The zone provides the highest level of protection, management and restoration for such lands whilst allowing uses compatible with those values.’
The department says, ‘it is anticipated that many councils will generally have limited areas displaying the characteristics suitable for the application of the E2 zone’.
It says that E3 zoning ‘is for land where there are special ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic attributes or environmental hazards/processes that require careful consideration/management and for uses compatible with these values.’
Ballina residents protest proposed zoning changes under the shire’s new draft LEP at last week’s public access meeting.