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Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

Move to sell off ‘paper roads’ opposed

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The state government wants to sell off unformed or 'paper roads', but some community groups want them retained in public ownership for use as horse or walking trails. Photo BLMOregon/Flickr.com
The state government wants to sell off unformed or ‘paper roads’, but some community groups want them retained in public ownership for use as horse or walking trails. Photo BLMOregon/Flickr.com

Melissa Hargraves

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.




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  1. It is a nonsense that because someone has had use of this crown land for generations they have some moral right to the property and therefore some over-riding claim for the legal ownership.be theirs.

    Poppycock. It is land that belongs to the crown. If another public use arises such as building the actual road, a flora fauna corridor, or whatever so be it and tough doody on the landowner.

  2. Hi all. Not about Native Title. The request is actually about ONLY ONE particular reserve road which is in current regular community use and is at risk of sale. There is NOT and never has been any lease of license in relation to the road in question. In fact we cannot identify ANY local paper roads in the Nimbin catchment which are subject to any kind of lease or license..we have checked with Lands so we are not sure where this info comes from. This issue is not only about Nimbin. In the wider context of the Rail Trail proposal, the reserve roads network across the region offers potential to link the Rail Trail to locations across the region via walking.cycling./horseriding trails. Once the network is lost it will be gone forever. In the UK and many European countries it is possible to walk across the entire country via tracks and trails. Do we really want to live in a place where the only way to move around is by motor vehicles? Do we want cars to rule our world? Do we want to completely extinguish horseiding as a culture? Many of these roads are very old main routes eg the old postal route between Nimbin and Mullum and have historic value. Some have never been used. Some are still in regular use such as the one in question right now. The ownership of land changes regularly but the community as a whole lives on. We are talking about a community asset being at risk here.


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