Ms Swindell, the ‘reputation manager’ for the West Byron developers, claims they have followed department of planning process ‘to the letter’. It is surprising that Ms Swindell says that ‘to our knowledge’the Preliminary Acid Sulfate Soil Study was put on exhibition in 2011 since the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) stated that:
‘no acid sulphate soil study has been included in the appendices to justify the conclusions reached in the planning report. Until a study is prepared or presented, consistent with OEH standards, the potential impacts cannot be reviewed.’
After later receiving a Preliminary ASS report, the EPA wrote ‘the extent of sampling is considered insufficient, compared with the requirement of the Assessment Guidelines in the Acid Sulfate Soils Manual 1998’. Those guidelines also state, in regard to rezoning, that ‘an Acid Sulfate Soils Study should be prepared when any intensification of land use on acid sulfate soils is proposed.’ The proponents’ inadequate report is hardly ‘to the letter’. No rezoning should be considered when even a preliminary study does not meet Department guidelines.
The developers’ original koala report by the respected Biolink consultants was, according to Ms Swindell, peer reviewed and then discounted. Who peer reviewed it and why was that review not part of the available documentation? The Biolink report was consistent with the Office of Environment and Heritage who, in their submission in 2012, described the area as Core Koala Habitat. The OEH was critical of the Environmental Assessment report prepared by the West Byron Landpartners, commenting that:
‘The [report] prepared by Landpartners … states that the koala population recorded on the site is most probably migratory rather than resident. This statement appears misleading and may lack scientific credibility given the historical and current use of the site by a number of koala individuals.’
The West Urban Release Area State Significant Site Study Guidelines say that, with regard to traffic and transport, the proposal must ‘include a traffic study in accordance with the RTA Guide to Traffic Generating Developments’. The West Byron developers’ traffic study does not conform to those guidelines – hardly following the process ‘to the letter’.
I am not, as Ms Swindell suggest, trying to ‘drum up community concern’ but rather the Byron Residents’ Group is responding to the will of the 2500 plus people who have signed our petitions so far. We have done genuine community consultation on a scale with which the developers cannot compare. We hear how Byron locals are astonished by the effrontery of a handful of developers who have dismissed Council’s recommendations and taken their irresponsible, oversized and unwanted proposal to the state government to decide.
Cate Coorey, president, Byron Residents’ Group