Opponents of the proposed North Lismore plateau housing development will return to the NSW Land and Environment Court at the end of July in an effort to have the development’s approval overturned.
The development would provide 1550 new dwellings for a population of more than 3600 people, with cycleways and walkways connecting the plateau to the Lismore central business district.
But North Lismore Aboriginal man Michael (Mickey) Ryan, who maintains the plateau is sacred, has vowed to fight the development all the way.
He and his supporters have established a protest camp on the plateau, and have enlisted the support of the NSW Environment Defenders Office.
They had their first day in court last Friday.
The matter will return to court late in July.
One of the grounds of objection is that environmental zones were wrongly removed. The final plan considered by the Lismore City Council in August last year had 28.5 per cent of the area zoned for environmental conservation or management.
However, an amendment approved by Richard Pearson, a delegate of the NSW Minister of Planning Pru Goward’s office, deleted the references to the environmental zones.
The removal of the e-zones allegedly coincided with a review of e-zones across the north coast announced by former planning minister Brad Hazzard in late 2012.
But the NSW EDO maintains that the removal of the zones after the public consultation process had been completed made the final approval invalid.
In a summons to the minister, his delegate, the director general of the Department of Planning, the Lismore City Council, and the landowners, EDO principal solicitor Sue Higginson outlined the orders sought.
They are firstly a declaration that the Lismore Local Environment Plan 2012 (amendment no 3), published on the NSW legislation website on 21 February 2014, is invalid and of no effect, and secondly that costs be awarded to the applicant.
The summons alleges there was no community consultation around the removal of the environmental zones from the development’s planning proposal.
Mr Ryan believes this invalidated the planning minister’s approval, which was based on the altered proposal that had not gone on public display.
The original proposal went on exhibition last year and was subsequently approved by the NSW Planning Department in February.
A spokesperson for the Lismore City Council told Echonetdaily that the council would not be commenting on the court action, saying it was a matter for the minister’s office.
Meanwhile, the council last night approved borrowing more than $6 million to provide wastewater and water infrastructure for the proposed development, with a view to recouping the expenditure during the development of the plateau.