Byron Rural Action Group (BRAG) and Save North Coast Nature (SNCN) may not agree on a lot but both groups are welcoming the extension of public exhibition of Byron’s new draft LEP and the possibility of a public forum after the exhibition period.
Byron Shire Council announced earlier this week that the Draft Byron Local Environmental Plan 2012 (LEP) has been extended until Monday, 24 December 2012.
BRAG argued for the extension during Byron Council public access last Thursday and SNCN issued a media release earlier this week calling for a formal public hearing into the use of environmental zones and overlays in the draft LEP.
The extension of the draft LEP public exhibition period was brought before last week’s council meeting by deputy mayor Diane Woods and endorsed by Council.
Manager of land and natural environment, Sharyn French, said the public exhibition period had been extended in response to community requests.
‘Submissions to date have totalled approximately 200 and we are expecting many more by the end of the public exhibition period.’
BRAG spokesperson Rex Harris told Echonetdaily, ‘We did a presentation to council last Thursday and requested extension. It took a lot of work to get that to happen. [Council] changed the maps partway through the process and they could have been open to question on that.’
Ms French said the recent call for a formal public hearing from Save North Coast Nature into the environmental zones and overlays in the draft LEP would also be considered after the public exhibition period.
She added that the process is for the hearing to be undertaken after all submissions have been received and reported to Council.’
She said Council may then choose to hold a public hearing relating to significant issues raised in the community submissions. This would include the environmental zones as requested by the Save North Coast Nature group.
SNCN spokesperson Andy Baker told Echonetdaily, ‘Save North Coast Nature supports the extension as it will give landowners extra time to address any mapping inaccuracies on their properties, but it will also give the wider community time to let the NSW government know that we want our natural environment properly protected.’
He said the proposed meeting ‘offers a good chance in an independent situation to resolve a lot of the issues. Hopefully we can put a lot of the misunderstandings aside and sit down and work on the problems.’
The public hearing would be held prior to Council making alterations on the draft LEP.
Ms French said a Council-run workshop will be held this Saturday between environmental and rural groups to discuss the proposed environmental zones and how a balance could be achieved.
Presentations on the day will be filmed and made available to the public following the workshop.
In the meantime, Ms French urged interested people to review the draft LEP information (www.byron.nsw.gov.au) and make a submission prior to Monday 24 December 2012.