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Byron Shire
December 9, 2023

Tallowood residents fear old-growth, koala tree removal

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An aerial photograph of Tallowood Ridge Estate as shown on the developer's website tallowoodridge.com.au
An aerial photograph of Tallowood Ridge Estate as shown on the developer’s website tallowoodridge.com.au

A group of Mullumbimby Tallowood Ridge residents say they were advised during the sale that the ridgeline would be reserved as a wildlife corridor, a claim that is disputed by one of the developers, Eric Freeman.

The newly formed Tallowood Ridge Community Association say they are concerned that a three-lot subdivision along the estate’s ridgeline – called Stage 3C – may result in the removal of large trees by future lot owners to protect assets from fire and storm damage or building of sheds and granny flats at a later date.

In a statement, the residents say some of the old-growth trees on the ridge have already been fenced into private backyards, which prevents the general community from having access and fractures the existing wildlife corridor.

Resident Diane Hart said, ‘It’s a shame we can no longer wander through the trees on the ridgeline, which are now in yards. With no large trees along the rest of the gully it has been a beautiful place to walk and have picnics for many years. It would be very sad to see this kind of thing continue along the ridge. We want it to be available for the community and wildlife.’

Council’s executive manager of planning, Ray Darney, told The Echo that Council had recently received a modification to a previous approval for Tallowood Ridge.

‘Located near the ridge, the application is seeking to split a single block into three sites. Previously permission had been given for a single block only, due to the close proximity to the tree line.

‘The application is still being assessed and has not been approved or refused. If property buyers are considering these blocks, they need to be aware that there is no guarantee that they will be approved and need to read all contracts carefully,’ he said.

Meanwhile developer Eric Freeman told The Echo, ‘As part of the current Stage 3A release, Tallowood is dedicating the last, missing piece of the ridgeline road reserve (Lot 78 on the Plan), as part of the “Shelter Belt”.

‘The land we are dedicating is zoned 2(a) Urban Residential and is being dedicated as public open space. This completes the Shelter Belt along the ridgeline.

‘No native trees have been or will be removed from the Shelter Belt. In fact, quite the opposite: we will continue the rehabilitation of the Shelter Belt, stage by stage. We started by planting native trees in the Shelter Belt above stage one.

‘In the past three months, we completed the planting and mulching of a further 5,000 native trees along both banks of Tallowood Creek – this as a continuation of the 6,000 native trees we planted along both banks in Stage Two of Tallowood Ridge.

‘The Shelter Belt above Stage 3A is now completed and approved by Council.

‘All of the Tallowood and other native trees within the proposed three lots in Stage 3C are protected by the Biodiversity Conservation Management Plan (BCMP) approved by Council in December 2011 and cannot be removed.’

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  1. Sounds similar to our small neighbourhood at Ewingsdale where Eric Freeman also developed a decade ago. After all the land blocks were sold and houses built in Citriadora drive developer Eric Freeman sold our only half acre community park with our beloved 100 year old fig tree. This “neighbourhood park” was promised to remain open and available to the public. A lot of people bought here because of this most majestic fig tree and magnificent location.
    Now “our park” is on private property and inaccessible to residents. Wedding couple and visitors to the area try to have photos, kids want to play and elderly want to sit under it! Alas, Eric Freeman betrayed us and we will never forget it! Don’t let him sell off promised neighbourhood parks and Koala lands in Tallowood that would be unforgivable. Unfortunately we have a pro-development bloc in council who don’t respect natural bio-diversity. The council are not listening to us, they are not representing the Byron Shire residents whom elected them in. A council by-election would be the only fair thing to do for residents. Your tallowood community will need all the action possible to lobby council to stop selling off of this land.
    Documentary film maker David Bradbury made a film called “The Battle for Byron” you will see developer Eric Freeman in his private helicopter. http://www.frontlinefilms.com.au/videos/byron.htm
    Meanwhile here at Ewingsdale other developers are pursuing inappropriate high density development on Rural amenity land, adding thousands of cars to the already over burdened Ewingsdale road. and do you think the council will fix Ewingsdale Road Traffic situation first? Not likely!

  2. Read more about the Tallowood Ridge community’s concerns on their website here:


    The echo article doesn’t clearly mention the changes to the 10:50 fire rulings so even though the native trees are protected under the BCMP, if the new owner of the trees decided to build a shed or a granny flay within 10m of the trees in the future, the trees can be removed without permission. This information was confirmed by council staff.

    The 3 lots that Eric Freeman has squeezed in to the ridge and tree line don’t leave adequate space for houses to be build without impacting these old growth trees and place the houses right up on top of the ridgline.

    It is so disappointing to the community that this developer continues to say one thing and then do something else.

    Byron Shire knocked back a DA proposed by Eric Freeman in 2009 that would have seen the entire ridgeline converted in to an access road to more houses. Freeman took the Shire to court but the court upheld the Shires response and also stated that there was to be no further development on or near the ridgeline.
    Court hearing can be read here:

    The developer now has decided to continue to develop the ridge anyway.

    I am pleased that they are revegetating the cleared spaces but trees as big as the ones on these 3 lots are possibly over 100 years old. They are habitat homes to many bird species. Soon these trees will be lost forever if they are not protected.

  3. What surprises me is the photo coverage ‘world-wide’ of the G20 leading heads of government cuddling a Koala as this is significant to Australia being a world ‘icon’!
    However in our area of the Northern Rivers we seem to have little desire in government policy to allow for the Koala’s to co-habitat with us and to give access for Koala’s to move freely within their boundaries.
    Our concern is for us humans and our pets and to hell with the Koala’s, except when it comes to photo shoots with dignitaries and then we get that ‘warm-fuzzy-feeling’!

  4. If we truly cared about koalas and other wildlife, we would also be mindful not to let our dogs and cats roam freely.
    No good having the trees there for habitat, and then turning a blind eye as our domestic pets follow their instincts.

  5. Typical greedy developer. They know they can get away with it so they do what they like and trust they will get a slap on the wrist …. in Tweed shire a developer near Tyalgum is eradicating koala habitat and endangered rare trees and council is reluctant to sue now.


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