As a Ballina Shire Councillor I take offence at Don Page’s letter comments that ‘Ballina and Byron shires zoned large areas of farming land as environmental zones in their draft LEPs’ and that Mr Page had to ‘intervene on this to protect farming and food production in the two shires’.
Let me say that I’m proud of our local farmers and greatly value their contribution to our economy.
Few areas in Australia have the unique combination of volcanic soils, a sub-tropical climate and a consistently high annual rainfall.
We can protect our high value environmental areas and maintain or increase our agricultural production. It has never been, and never will be, one or the other.
I have spoken to Ballina Council staff about the contents of Mr Page’s letter and they have confirmed that the Ballina LEP has an open zone (permissible use) for extensive agricultural production in the E 3 zones, which effectively created no additional restrictions on agricultural production.
For Mr Page to say that ‘food production’ has been put at risk is both misleading and a political ploy seeking to divide the community.
Calling council planners ‘dark green’, and saying that decisions are made based on a ‘whim’, are a smear on the profession and do him no credit.
After 18 months of inaction by the government and their ‘consultants’, councils and the public have been given three weeks to write a submission on the E zone review.
A total of 145 councils in NSW have submitted LEPs based on the government’s ‘one size fits all’ template that include a range of environmental zones and values within them, for example scenic escarpment, water catchment area, etc.
These environmental values have long been recognised in the Ballina 1987 LEP and it’s inconceivable that these environmental values would not be recognised on the north coast into the future.
It is only the five north coast councils that have had their environmental zones put on hold.
Was this decision, announced via a press release, politically motivated to draw attention away from our local National Party MPs’ support for the CSG industry (invasive gasfields) setting up camp in the northern rivers and beyond?
Cr Jeff Johnson, Lennox Head