By Darren Coyne
Approval of any development at the Iron Gates site at Evans Head would condone the clearing of native vegetation without permission, according to environmental campaigner Al Oshlack.
A development application for 178 lots on 18.2 hectares of the riverfront site has been lodged by Gold Coral Pty Ltd , and has been on display and before the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
Mr Oshlack, who stopped previous development proposals at the site with legal challenges in the NSW Land and Environment Court, also said the director of the company behind the development application had ‘a poor track record of complying with environmental and planning law’.
‘The applicant’s director (Graeme Angus Ingles) has failed to comply with court orders to remediate past damage to the site caused by unlawful activities,’ Mr Oshlack said in a submission objecting to the development application.
‘In addition to this, recent clearing of native vegetation on the site is currently under investigation by the NSW Government.
‘Approval of the application for development would condone the director’s previous unlawful activities in relation to the site, and would fail to deter the applicant from breaching the law in relation to this site.
‘It would also fail to deter other developers from breaching the law in relation to any future development in the region.’
Mr Oshlack maintains that the Iron Gates site is unsuitable for the type and scale of the proposed development.
‘The site contains habitat for a number of threatened species, including the koala, which is protected under both commonwealth and state law,’ he said.
He said a species impact statement should have been submitted with the development application, as required by section 78A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and he wants the application referred to the chief executive of the Office of Environment and Heritage for determination.
Mr Oshlack also criticised a flora and fauna assessment prepared for Gold Coral Pty Ltd by Planit Consulting.
He engaged Landmark Ecological Services, to review the assessment, and company found a ‘number of deficiencies, confusions and omissions’.
As well, his submission accuses Mr Ingles of ‘blatant disregard’ for the environment, and with court orders.
‘Approval of the application for development would condone the director’s previous environmental harm and unlawful activities in relation to the site, and his failure to comply with orders of the Court.,’ Mr Oshlack said.
‘Approval would also fail to deter the applicant from breaching the law in relation to this site. It would also fail to deter other developers from breaching the law in relation to any future development in the region.
‘I strongly recommend that the application be refused. Should the determining authority consider approving the development, a species impact statement should be required to be submitted by the applicant, and the application should be referred to the Office of Environment and Heritage.
Richmond Valley Council general manager John Walker has told the ABC that the new plans appeared to comply with current regulations.
He said the land had subsequently been zoned for residential land in the part that was subject to this DA, and other parts of the Iron Gates site had been rezoned as environmental zones.
Attempts to speak with Graeme Ingles have been unsuccessful.