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Byron Shire
April 19, 2021

Iron Gates to ‘cost residents dearly’

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A section of the cleared land at Iron Gates, Evans Head. (supplied)
A section of the cleared land at Iron Gates, Evans Head. (photo supplied)

Darren Coyne

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has confirmed it is investigating clearing at the controversial Iron Gates site at Evans Head, but it could be ‘weeks or months’ before action is taken.

Echonetdaily reported early last month that a bulldozer had been spotted clearing vegetation at the site, which is bordered on three sides by national park, and fronts the Evans River.

Richmond Valley Council has also confirmed that it has held talks with the developer, the Ingles Group, about a possible development application for the site, despite previous legal action between the two parties.

Evans Head resident Dr Richard Gates, an opponent of the development from its inception, said ratepayers would end up footing the bill.

‘General manager Walker has indicated that Iron Gates could accommodate 170 to 180 houses,’ Dr Gates said.

At its recent meeting, the council considered a report in which staff outlined options that might be available to attract the developer.

One of those was to reduce the cost of sewerage works from $32,437 to $8,000 per tenement.

At those rates, Dr Gates argues that the council would be providing a subsidy of $4,154,290 for 170 houses, or $4,398,660 for 180 houses.

‘So Richmond Valley Council is prepared to subsidise a developer, most likely Iron Gates Pty Ltd, with a subsidy of somewhere between $4.15 and $4.4 million for residential development while at the same time imposing a 39.1 per cent special rate rise on one of the most disadvantaged local government areas in NSW’, Dr Gates said.

‘In effect this is a subsidy of between $189 and $200 paid by every man, woman and child in the whole local government area.

‘It is nothing less than a bloody disgrace.  Where are our councillors? And does IPART know about these discounts or did it take them into account in its decision to approve the massive rate rise?’

Meanwhile, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage is understood to have taken legal advice regarding the clearing.

A spokesperson told Echonetdaily that officers had met with the developer and had also inspected the site.

The spokesperson said however that it could be weeks or months before any action is taken.


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4 COMMENTS

  1. That’s about right regarding the EPA. There is an inquiry into its ability to handle cases like this.

    http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/743BDB8875807D85CA257CFC002142D1?open&refnavid=CO3_1

    The inquiry terms of reference are ostensibly to “measure the EPA’s recent performance against its objectives pursuant to section 6 of the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991”, with a particular focus on the following matters.

    (i) land contamination issues at Botany and Hillsdale

    (ii) EPA investigations and public statements about the effects of coal dust pollution in the Hunter

    (iii) EPA investigation into ground water contamination in the Pilliga by Santos’ coal seam gas exploration

    (iv) the prosecution of Du Pont (Australia) Ltd for the alleged offence of land pollution in the western Sydney suburb of Girraween

    (v) the regulation of cruise passenger ships at the White Bay Cruise Terminal at Balmain

    (vi) the regulation of forestry practices in Royal Camp State Forest

    It really is getting annoying to see corporations, politicians and mining companies handed get out of gaol free cards. It seems like the EPA and regulatory agencies pick and choose who they hold to account and it’s usually the average person.

  2. What b***!!! If they go any further with these development plans, I swear I’m gonna huff and puff and blow those houses down. All them rich pigs will be runnin’. Rant over

  3. About 10 years ago many others and I stood before the bulldozers to protest at this development. That was at the time when Byron Bay cared for the environment unlike now. Do we have to do it all over again?

  4. Yes Hope, it’s almost always the average person as they can’t fight back with million dollar lawyers…
    The EPA ‘act’ is now very similar to the way things are done in the US, the Erroneously Polluting Australia act…
    We ALL need to huff and puff and blow away the corruption that is filling our political and bureacratic systems!
    Rant only just beginning…

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