There is no doubt that Byron Shire is a special place but that has not been an easy achievement.
Over the last 30 years there has been intensive assessment, analysis of planning issues and community consultation. The proposed West Byron lands development potential has been reviewed no less than three times in major studies. Each time it was considered through evidence and consultation as not suitable for intensive development, in fact much of it was proposed for rural zoning due to the constraints.
Some may not remember the development that took place under the council of the early nineties that approved development without the necessary essential infrastructure. This resulted in the pollution of Belongil, Tallow and Brunswick waterways and led to the sewerage moratorium, which meant no more development able to be approved until new sewerage plants were built. The new plants were designed with the guidance of extensive studies that considered the future growth of the shire.
As a member of the West Byron STP committee I can confirm that the potential of those lands was allocated in accordance with the assessments that determined only low-key and rural development for the West Byron lands. This means the STP does not have the physical capacity for this proposed development. The outcome of this could be pollution of Belongil and bay, again or a costly upgrade.
The award-winning Biodiversity Conservation Strategy identified a regional wildlife corridor, high conservation value vegetation, and core habitat for koalas and other vulnerable species on those lands. The Belongil catchment was determined as an acid sulfate hotspot in 1996 by the state government. Flood and climate change studies determined the risks on that land. Traffic studies identified the constraints that exist on Ewingsdale Road and also that a bypass will not resolve the traffic congestion.
Council rejected a previous rezoning request due to the planning risks and a commitment to protect and preserve the biodiversity, character and amenity of the area including the attraction for tourism. The proponents did not accept your council’s considered investigation and assessment and instead went to the state government to seek approval. This represents a denial of the evidence and the will of the community but if approved the impacts will be borne by all.
This current proposal is inappropriate and unsustainable. I encourage residents to make a submission and write to your local MP, Don Page and the planning minister. Don’t ignore the opportunity to be heard on this important issue, it could change Byron forever and there is no going back once it’s approved.
Jan Barham, Broken Head