Lismore City councillors will tomorrow (Tuesday) decide whether council should take over ‘paper roads’ (Crown roads) in the Nimbin area.
The NSW Department of Trading and Investment (DTI) is embarking on a program to dispose of unformed Crown roads (paper roads) across the state.
There are hundreds of sections of unformed Crown roads throughout the Lismore local government area (LGA) that are identified for possible sale, which are currently leased or licensed to adjoining landholders.
The particular road for consideration at this week’s meeting is, but not limited to, Hutchison Road in Nimbin which the DTI has advertised its intention to close and sell that section of road to the adjoining land owner.
The road has been identified by Australian Long Forest Association (ALFA) for horse and/or walking trails.
ALFA is lobbying for the paper roads to remain in public ownership and have contacted council to take over the Crown road as a local road, although there has been no formal submission.
According to a Lismore City Council staff report, the current workload in the property area of council is significant, with native title claims and ongoing property matters in progress.
The report also states that while council empathises with the Nimbin community on the issue, staff consider it’s in conflict with the desires and longstanding use by adjoining land owners, especially where leases and licences have existed.
Council also said any consideration of taking over such unformed Crown road reserves by council would need to be on a case-by-case basis.
Another council staff report says the issue assumes there are only two choices: sell the road or council take over ownership.
Another option that should be considered, according to the report, is the status quo where the land remains as a Crown road for the benefit of the community.
DTI agrees with council taking over the land on condition it meet legal and surveying costs associated with the process and agrees to certain requirements regarding future upkeep and maintenance.
The move for council to take over ownership of paper trails is supported by the Nimbin Environment Centre (NEC) because it believes the local environment is under pressure from population growth and unsustainable development.
In a letter to council, NEC’s Philippe Dupuy listed further reasons for the retention of paper trails in the Nimbin area.
These included: reserving trails for low carbon peaceful activities that support healthy pastimes such as walking and bird watching; enhanced protection of flora and fauna and increased wildlife corridors; and a network of trails that connected to rail trails would be a tourist attraction.