Ballina Greens plan to take the fight to local council over its endorsement of a proposed major new transport and logistics centre at the western entrance to the town.
Cr Jeff Johnson told Thursday’s council meeting that he was ‘shocked’ fellow councillors want a new industrial zone hugging the Ballina Bypass in the middle of the flood plain.
‘We’re talking about 17 hectares of flood plain land to be filled to about three metres for a new industrial zone, I don’t think that’s the direction we should be taking,’ the Greens councillor said in opposing a motion to press ahead with the planning proposal for Teven Road.
‘Do we really want that as something people see when driving past Ballina as our signature development?’ Cr Johnson said.
‘I say leave the cane farms and existing business there, let’s not kill and industrialise a major proportion of flood plain,’ he added.
Cr Johnson said the development, which is still at an early planning stage, goes against the Big Prawn, beaches and ‘our town’ branding of Ballina.
‘It also goes against state government planning guidelines that say you don’t increase fill and development on flood plains,’ he said, suggesting Council look at alternative industrial land already for sale.
Ballina Greens will go it alone in its opposition to the development of the new transport facility, with the rest of the Council giving a ringing endorsement to the plans.
All other councillors said the current proposed location at Teven Road was strategically ‘perfect’.
Cr Susan Meehan said she ‘couldn’t believe that anybody would be doing something in our community which could hold back a potentially substantial economic driver for employment and new business’ in the northern rivers region.
Cr Ben Smith agreed, saying the development would ‘not be about just a few jobs, but about an entire new industry’ for Ballina and the region.
‘This is a completely different industry, with a whole range of skills sets and technologies, in a perfect location,’ Cr Smith said.
‘It’s exactly what we’re supposed to have in Ballina. The Big Prawn and the beaches are all very nice, but they’re only going to provide so many jobs.
‘We really need to have something else to drive this economy and actually have some sustainable employment in this area.’
Ballina mayor David Wright pointed to the flow on effects for the town if it gets the go ahead.
‘It will give a whole new completely different aspect to Ballina,’ Cr Wright said.
Cr Keith Johnson said logistics centres were major contributors to the reduction in the use of fuel and, if given the green light, would provide a huge jobs boost for Ballina.