Ballina Council shot itself in the foot last year when it submitted its new LEP to the state government but failed to zone two historic villages in a way that would protect them from CSG mining.
Newrybar and Tintenbar are potentially exposed to the controversial activity because they do not have the important R5 Large Lot Residential zoning, which protects similar sized villages in other shires.
In a game of catch-up, Ballina Council staff have produced a recommendation, to be presented to today’s council meeting, to write to the state government requesting the retrospective change.
‘In the preparation of the Ballina Local Environmental Plan 2012, the Council elected to not apply the R5 Large Lot Residential Zone to rural settlements,’ the report reads.
‘However, a number of these rural settlements are of a scale and character that is consistent with the above local R5 zone exclusions. It is suggested that such similarity exists where these rural settlements have a commercial hub, or attractor, and a school, as in the case of Tintenbar and Newrybar.
‘Consequently, this report recommends that Council make a submission to the government advocating that the rural settlements of Tintenbar and Newrybar be included in the CSG exclusion zones, to achieve consistency in the application of CSG exclusion areas in the region.’
The report also recommends that the council request an expansion of the areas excluded from CSG mining and prospecting to include regionally significant farmland as well as state-significant farmland.
Council manager Stephen Barnier told ABC radio this morning that ‘there are areas of the northern parts of our shire that did not get categorised under the state government’s policy as state-significant farmland but we know has been mapped as regionally significant farmland, and subject to agricultural production on a fairly intensive scale, and we’re suggesting that it’s very, very important to protect that’.
Staff also recommend a further briefing for councillors to bring them up to speed with the changes of state government policy around coal seam gas.