Federal Richmond MP Justine Elliot has thrown her weight behind the campaign against the controversial West Byron housing development, saying it would be ‘irresponsible’ to rezone the site.
Mrs Elliot met with members of the Byron Residents’ Group (BRG) yesterday and inspected the site, saying afterward she fully supported the community’s opposition to the ‘oversize development’.
She said her concerns included the impact on koalas and their habitat, acid sulfate soil runoff, increased traffic congestion and the impact of buildings on flood-prone areas.
Public exhibition of the rezoning proposal for the 108-hectare site 2.5 kilometres west of the Byron Bay township closed on 31 January and the state planning department is now reviewing feedback and considering a recommendation.
The site is mostly owned by a consortium of local landowners, which proposed the rezoning to the government under its controversial ‘gateway’ planning policy. Hundreds of houses and a commercial precinct are planned.
Mrs Elliot said the rezoning was the responsibility of the state government and Nationals MP Don Page ‘and to date they’ve totally failed the people of Byron in pursuing this irresponsible rezoning’.
She called on the government to refuse the rezoning application and refer it back to Byron Shire Council ‘for proper community consultation’.
‘Quite frankly, I don’t trust the state government with this application – it should be referred back to the Byron Council and the community,’ she said.
Mrs Elliot’s meeting and tour yesterday followed an onsite inspection last week by Lennox Head-based MLC Catherine Cusack, who has also taken up the residents’ group’s concerns.
The residents say the proposed development allows for the destruction of almost a third of the core koala habitat identified.
It also includes intensive development in 70 per cent (21 hectares) of identified koala buffer zones and in key koala link areas that pass through the east of the site.
The BRG says it is lobbying against the rezoning until a proper assessment of the risk to koalas is conducted that conforms to Byron Council’s new Koala Plan Of Management.
They say also that there’s still no adequate assessment of the traffic impacts of West Byron.