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Byron Shire
August 1, 2021

Motorbike track ‘will harm bird life’

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The rare and vulnerable Pale-vented (Rufous-tailed) Bush-hen (Amaurornis moluccana) is believed to live in the wetland next to the old landfill site at Murwillumbah. Photo Ian Montgomery
The rare and vulnerable Pale-vented (Rufous-tailed) Bush-hen
(Amaurornis moluccana) is believed to live in the wetland next to the old landfill site at Murwillumbah. Photo Ian Montgomery

Luis Feliu

Concerns have been raised over the potential impacts that a proposed dirt motorcycle track on Murwillumbah’s former landfill site would have on several rare bird species living in an adjacent wetland.

If built, the track would cater for hundreds of motorbike riders from the Gold Coast who have proposed joining with a Tweed club after sites in southeast Queensland became unusable due to urban growth.

Tweed Shire Council early last year decided to support the leasing of the old landfill site, in Lundberg Drive on the outskirts of Murwillumbah, which was capped in 2010 after it was decommissioned.

The plan, pushed by pro-development councillors, involved leasing the site for use as a dirt motorbike track at $250 a year. It came after years of lobbying by motorbike club members who have wanted their own purpose-built track in the Tweed.

Council is currently undertaking a preliminary environmental impact assessment with a focus on the environmental habitat zone between the landfill site and Council nursery in a nearby industrial area.

But Council’s natural resources director David Oxenham told Council at its last meeting that a development application (DA) for the motorbike facility would need to include a much more comprehensive study than the current Council one, which has been estimated to cost almost $6,000.

Local birdwatchers who wanted to conduct their own survey of the habitat zone next to the landfill site have not been permitted to do so by Council.

BirdTweed, former the Tweed Bird Observers group, say there are almost 50 bird species known to be using the large tract of bushland, including the rare and vulnerable Pale-vented Bush-hen and Lewin’s Rail, which they have often heard from the nearby public road.

Other species include figbirds, whistlers, doves, egrets, ibis, honeyeaters, cuckoos and cockatoos.

Perfect habitat

The bird group says the wet, overgrown area, which is zoned E2 under the new draft Local Environment Plan (LEP), is perfect habitat for these species and should be retained undisturbed in any redevelopment of the area.

A workshop with motorbike club members over the plan late last year was told that environmental values, noise, ecological impacts and agricultural buffers would have to be dealt with as part of the DA process.

Cr Gary Bagnall, who with Greens Cr Katie Milne is taking up the fight to protect the bird habitat, told councillors the bushland site was ecologically important habitat for endangered species, including grey-headed bats who roost there.

‘By the sounds of it, the small protected area is a haven for wildlife, which have a right to live without this type of noise pollution,’ Cr Bagnall recently wrote to councillors.

‘Some of them are obviously nocturnal and have a right to peace and quite during sleeping hours.

‘In this era of disappearing species and habitat, we have a big responsibility of doing what we can in our little corner of the world and I agree with Cr Milne that these creatures should be protected by us councillors.

‘We are their only hope. I don’t even think an evaluation of the site is needed, although it would be interesting,’ he said.

Former general manager David Keenan said a motocross facility would boost the local economy through accommodation and supporting small businesses to service and support the sport, and could also reduce illegal motorbike uses in other areas, as well as provide safety training for riders.

Acting general manager Troy Green agrees with the need for such a facility.

Cr Bagnall, who pushed for the current preliminary assessment of the site, told the birdwatcher group that in his experience ‘developers get (environmental) consultants that tell them what they want’ for their DAs.

Track closed

He suggested that the background to the proposal was that a track used by a Gold Coast motorbike club with hundreds of members was recently closed owing to urban creep and the club had thus been ‘looking over the border for a new facility’.

He said the track would be used by ‘around 20 bikes racing at one time’ and would operate on some weekday afternoons and all weekend, and ‘will definitely be very noisy’.

Cr Bagnall said he was concerned the noise and dust from a motorbike track, as well as extra cars and people in the area, would affect the wildlife.

In the report on the proposal last year, Council staff said the landfill site had not been used for any purpose since closure and Council had ongoing commitments such as groundwater/surface water monitoring and weed control at the site, costing around $15,000 a year.

Staff said a motorcycle track would provide ‘an opportunity to generate income over this currently unused site’, but Cr Bagnall questioned this, saying ratepayers would not get value for money by charging such a ‘peppercorn rent’ of $250 a year.

However, staff said that under the proposed lease, the rent would rise to $1,200 a year for its five-year period, after which it could be renegotiated.


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  1. Well l know the council have made some bad decisions, but this is the worst yet, not only will the wild life suffer
    but also the people, motor bikes can be heard for miles this would be very annoying for the elderly (and this area
    is full of aging people) even if they try to block out the noise the people and wild life will still hear it and all for a lousy $250 or maybe $1,200 a year. I hope everyone will protest about it.

  2. Why is it the birds were fine with a land fill operation and all that goes with that, trucks, dust, noise etc, but wont be able to tolerate motorbikes. It never ceases to amaze me, we live in one of the least densely populated places in the world but there never seems to be a place that’s suitable to ride a dirt bike. Funny that. However there always seems to be enough room for mines, housing developments, bigger roads, shopping centres, etc that apparently have no significant impact on local flora and fauna.
    Dirt bike riders and 4wders are the true nature lovers, “greenies” if you will. They like nothing better than getting into the bush and want the bush preserved. Apart from the almost insignificant amount of damaged the actual track causes, the rest of the bush remains pristine.

  3. It seems there has been a lot of wildlife found since the last meeting . There was apparently some snakes and bats that were going to be affected now there are all these rare birds. It would seem if these animals have been settled there they would be used to the dust and noise from the tip site that was originally there. There is also some miss leading information about the amount of use the site will see. It will be used only on a Saturday and maybe a week day afternoon, and not by hundreds of people as the area is obviously not that big. As for the benefit to the community, the lease fee is minimal but the increase in business around the town from people eating and spending nights in accommodation. Maybe even bringing a bit of life into a struggling town. I am sure outweighs what these birds are offering. Not to mention giving the local kids an interest and somewhere legal and safe to spend their Saturday rather hanging around the streets. Sometimes I think some of our councillors lose site of the big picture and only focus on there own petty little agenda.

  4. 1200 bucks a year? wow, that’s a huge return, bugger the environment when that kinda money’s on the table! Bloody birds, who needs em? Let alone the poor humans who live nearby, bugger them too.
    The bit that makes me laugh is that it will boost accommodation! Who’s going to stay overnight in a town that’s less than an hour’s drive from home….

  5. this development is desperatly needed for local bike riders as there is no where else to ride bikes in a controlled safe environment.,motorcross clubs provide the highest safety standards to there members on a race day we have ambulance officers on site ,each bike is checked throughly ,it is the safest way to ride.
    if tracks are not allowed to open then people will ride in state forests or national parks .with no safety being provided kids will die in collisions.

  6. Dr Greg, It’s a industrial estate with no residential houses in the immediate area. It is a dump site. It is the bottom of the barrel, if we can’t have our club facility here where do you suggest? So many people are very quick to oppose the idea when they are completely un-educated about the sport. This sport has a false impression from the quick to judge people. We are not “Bikies” we are not “Hooligans” We are family friendly people who want to ride in a safe, professional and controlled area with our kids and enhance our up and coming talent. We are happy, fit, healthy athletes – Not drug using, drinking lunatics. People are driving from up to 5 and 6 hours away to compete at their sport and have money to spend.

  7. A safe legal motorcycle track in a controlled environment is something many hard working families have been patiently waiting for, for many years. With no legal tracks, riders (many of them kids) are ending up in our national parks, on the roads, and in other areas which we have no control over. To combat this issue, the local motorcycle club (run by tweed valley families) have been working hard since the late 1990’s to provide a safe, legal, and environmentally friendly park for the Kids, Mums, Dads, and riding community of the area.

    An Idea. If those that are truly concerned about helping the environment work together with the club, a positive outcome is 100% achievable. With help from some key environmentalists, the Tweed could lead the way in creating a facility that not only protects the existing flora and fauna but also re-establishes the environment that surrounds the track. Native trees, shrubs and ground cover could be planted to create a more park like area. For decades, Europe has used similiar concepts when creating ride parks winning the support of riders and environmentalists alike.

    Think also about this, if the club has a ride day there once a week, there would be 6 days when there is no-one there. Could the park be used by the local BMX club on sundays? What about local schools using the track for BMX on sports days? As part of a membership program, the club could plant a tree for each new member. Think 100 members equals 100 trees. These are just a few suggestions and I am sure there would be so many more great ideas out there.

    There is always a solution, we just need to be open minded and think outside the square. So for any environmental groups or individuals out there who feel they can help create a ride park in the best way possible, my name is Sam and my number is 0416 061 075. Lets work together and create a positive.

    Imagine, an empty dump site, transformed into a community ride park which is surrounded by nature. Much stranger things have happened…

  8. Funny that there’s been no comment about the noise impacts that will be imposed on the residents of Kielvale, South Murwillumbah and Wardrop Valley area. I’m sure they’ll love the whine of bike engines ruining their weekends and during the week as well.

  9. Helen there has been a lot of consideration given to the noise and there are currently plans being considered to deal with this problem. Noise is the only pollution that is a problem in this type of facility, as the ground is watered so that no dust can leave the site and fuelling is done in a contained area. The tracks and bikes these days are under a huge pressure to keep noise levels down using any methods they can. Standard mufflers that are supplied with the bikes are very good and must be used at such a facility or they will not be aloud to ride. Bike size is also taken into consideration as the little ones are not even heard at 70 m. It is the bigger bikes that cause the noise, so their ride times are normally reduced to 4 times a day for about a 10 to 15 minute intervals. We are not just a bunch of people trying to tear down a community and rip the place apart with no consideration to its residents, we are part of the same community we pay the same rates and are friends with the same people. We are just trying to create a place for our kids to ride safely. Dr Greg at the moment to take my son riding most of the time it is an overnight trip, we go into a town buy our food for the weekend and it is very common for us to book out a few complete motels when there is a race on. so why not invite the same people to our town and spend there money here. I am sure there might be a coffee shop or takeaway that would not mind the extra weekend trade.

  10. What the hell is wrong with everyone do you not understand that if this track doesn’t happen with this ever growing SPORT then we are going to see major impacts on our national parks and beaches ! there are not enough ranger to control the tweed shire and why should we waist police time and money chasing after kids and adults on dirt bikes when they could be out chasing the real crooks, also grant i think only operating on saturdays only and some weekday afternoons is a very selfish idea have a look at how successful QMP is out at boonah they operate from thurs-mon and have a camping ground and toilet facilities why can’t we have this in the tweed not to mention it his backed by 8 yes 8 local councils i wish our council will stop thinking about themselves and the youth of the future,you cannot shy away from motocross becoming one of the fastest growing sport and i’d rather be investing my money in a tweed business ather travelling interstate to QMP, parklands MX track or motorcross mountain all which are in QLD

  11. The kids of Northern NSW and the Gold Coast need somewhere legally where they can enjoy riding in a safe, locally supported environment. Like our native flora and fauna our kids too need protection and to be able to grow and are no less important.

    I would hope that the majority of residents of Murwillumbah and council would jump at the chance to encourage both an injection of youth and money into their local economy and to use a site which has no other viable option.

  12. What a load of BS . . . .more harm would be caused by riders tearing round the states national parks! And the birds survived just fine when all the bulldozers and trucks were working in the tip . . . Dont be foolish and support a track that will be beneficial to thousands of people!

  13. What a load of BS by Bagnall!

    In the far end of a heavy industrial area, next to cane fields, a gun club and an airport on an old tip site with no residential close by!

    Just shows how far some ideologically driven people are prepared to stretch the truth to support some quasi religious belief that “vehicles are devil spawn” doesn’t it!


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