Murwillumbah’s old garbage tip site could become a motorbike track after Tweed Shire Council approved a five-year lease to pave the way for a junior motorcycle club to set up the first such facility in the shire.
But two of seven councillors opposed the plan due to concerns over the site’s contamination, the impact on an adjacent wetland and birdlife there as well as noise pollution.
The Tweed Valley Junior Motorcycle Club has long sought a site to establish a dirt track and recently officials held talks with council staff over leasing around five hectares of the old landfill site in Lundberg Drive, South Murwillumbah.
Councillors last Thursday approved granting the lease for $250 a year to help the club set up the facility, allowing the club to prepare and lodge a development application (DA) for the track on the council-owned land.
Cr Phil Youngblutt urged councillors to approve the lease, saying the landfill site was an ‘environmental disaster’ when it operated as a garbage tip, and ‘nothing compares to what was there before’.
But Crs Katie Milne and Gary Bagnall argued against the move, saying issues of contamination and the ecology of the area, which included a sensitive wetland, had not been properly addressed by council staff in their report.
Cr Bagnall said that since the dump closed some years ago, a number of birds used the site for nesting and the endangered melaleuca wetland nearby also contained a nursery for around 30 rare grey-headed bats.
He said he was aware council had capped and sealed the contaminated site but bulldozers could disturb soil during earthworks for drainage, which was a worry with children using the site.
Cr Milne said the adjacent area was zoned environmental protection due to its ecological significance and the site was too close to Murwillumbah, so the track had potential to spark noise complaints.
She said there was also no indication of the level of support from the community for such a lease.
But Cr Warren Polglase said the club needed a lease agreement before it could lodge a DA, which was when the merits of the proposal would be assessed and community input sought.
Cr Polglase said the track would create an opportunity for youngsters interested in riding motorbikes to learn the right way, in a purpose-built facility.
‘Aren’t we about trying to promote youth activities, and get youth off the streets?’
Supporters of the bike track say without one in the Tweed, many riders illegally take to national parks and state forests for the activity.
Council staff say the lease would help the establishment and ongoing operation of the facility ‘on land that would otherwise be unused or underutilised’.