Byron Shire Council voted yesterday to refuse a highly contentious development proposal to turn a former sand quarry at Broken Head into a community title housing development.
The council also voted against a staff recommendation that the developers be given the opportunity to reconsider the proposal, with mayor Simon Richardson saying the developers should fix the site first and then wait ten years before they attempted another DA.
The mayor and the overwhelming majority of councillors were opposed to the development under any circumstances.
They further agreed to require the property owners demonstrate that they were adhering to the terms of their existing DA by remediating the former quarry and regenerating the ecologically endangered vegetation at the site.
Cr Chris Cubis alone failed to support the council resolution.
Jewel in the crown
In voicing his strong opposition to the proposal, mayor Simon Richardson said, ‘Byron is the third most bio diverse region in Australia and Broken head is our jewel in the crown. If ever a precautionary principle should apply it is in Broken Head.’
He added the idea of a development in ‘an incredibly constrained and bio-diverse area, adjacent to Aboriginal women’s sacred site is abhorrent.’
‘The close proximity to Taylors Lake and its cultural significance to our local Indigenous people is a concern.
‘I’ve never been there – and never will do – as it’s a sacred women’s site and that needs to be respected and protected.
‘The quarry was a contentious DA approval in the first place. We want to be assured, now the money and the work has dried up, that they’ve actually put money aside to fix the site. They’ve got remediation to do. Let’s see how that works and tell them to come back in 10 years,’ Cr Richardson said.
Former council staff ecologist David Millege spoke against the development during public access.
He said that the area contained five threatened rainforest plants, 15 threatened fauna species, and was itself an endangered ecological community.
‘Council’s requirements for progressive rehabilitation of the site have not been met,’ Mr Millege said.
‘We need this to enable viable populations in the long term. What has been done is tokenistic and ineffective. Approval would permanently disrupt the functioning of the wildlife corridor and possibly destroy it,’ he added.
‘The owners must be required to abide by requirements of the existing DA and remediate the land,’ Mr Millege said.
Speaking in support of the plan at public access, town planner Chris Power was forced to fall back on legalistic argument to make his case.
He claimed when the quarry was approved by the Land and Environment Court, it only had to be proven the proposed development ‘not inconsistent’ with the objectives of the [existing] zoning.
Under heavy questioning from councillors Mr Power was unable to provide details as to which parts of the site remained under native vegetation and which parts, if any, had been revegetated.
‘I don’t dispute not all the conditions [of the existing DA] have been complied with,’ he said in response to a question from Cr Paul Spooner.
Cr Dey asked if the proponents planned to fulfil the existing requirement for rehabilitation before any development commenced, to which Mr Power replied, ‘no the proposal is that the subdivision would go ahead and regeneration would subsequently accompany the [new] approved plan.’