NSW Greens planning spokesperson David Shoebridge yesterday met with Ballina Shire councillor Jeff Johnson to discuss the NSW government’s recent decision to ‘call in’ a controversial rezoning application at Skennars Head and the proposed rezoning of Dr Stewart’s farm at Sharpes Beach, even though Ballina Council was given until February next year to process the rezoning proposal.
The state government has now removed Ballina Council from the planning process and referred the matter to the government-appointed Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP).
‘This is a government that says one thing and then does the exact opposite,’ said Mr Johnson
Mr Shoebridge said that ‘despite a promise to return planning powers to local councils the O’Farrell government is proposing to gut one of the key planning laws, development control plans, relied on by local councils to protect local communities from overdevelopment’.
The two also raised the issue of coal-seam gas mining, which they said was another planning issue where the coalition government is ignoring the views of local councils.
‘What the CSG companies have planned for our region will not only have a detrimental effect on our environment and rural communities, but it will also put at risk our major economic drivers, being agricultural production and tourism’, said Mr Johnson.
What we are seeing is a government that is too close to vested interests, and too removed from the people that this government was elected to represent,’ said Mr Shoebridge.
‘Approving new CSG exploration licences and a production licence for Metgasco without independent environmental assessments or the support of the local community is a disgrace, particularly from the National Party MPs who claim to represent rural Australia,’ said Mr Johnson.