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August 3, 2021

Approval of West Byron development in sensitive wetland is dubious

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Can the planning minister please explain with appropriate detail how the development application for what’s commonly known as the West Byron development in the Byron Shire of northern NSW was approved considering that this primarily housing development is in a environmentally sensitive wetland area with reportedly high acid sulfate soils?

Considering the NSW government’s 2021 Regional Action Plan Northern Rivers states that: ‘The Northern Rivers has the highest level of biodiversity in NSW and the third highest in Australia’, it is not surprising that there is ‘strong community support for protecting the Northern Rivers biologically diverse natural environment’ [p.17]

The action plan goes to state that government will ‘work with local stakeholders to improve environmental sustainability and respond to regional environmental issues’ [p18].

Can the NSW minister for the environment and assistant minister for planning please detail exactly how they are responding to regional environmental issues by approving an environmentally damaging and destructive development that has the potential to lead to the poisoning of the Cape Byron Marine Park due to the release of sulphuric acid into the Belongil Estuary following the disruption of the soil in the West Byron wetland?

Further, can the minister please explain precisely how placing a new housing development in a swamp makes for sensible new housing planning when there are far more appropriate parcels of land for new housing available?

Or why the development has been deemed ‘affordable housing’ considering the median price for a block of land is more than $500,000 and the significantly wealthy developer is set to gain $1 billion in gross income from the approval? Can the minister please detail how this is considered to be good for the regional and local economy?

Does the minister realise that if the Cape Byron Marine Park is poisoned, the beaches and bay area of Byron placed in jeopardy of aquatic pollution, and the already highly congested traffic entering the town of Byron Bay choked even further, that the main economy of the region being that of tourism will be terminally impacted?

Can the minister please explain why he has approved a development that may effectively destroy the town, the marine environment, and the broader region’s main economic generator?

As the NSW state election is approaching, can the minister please outline the rationale for his decision with this particular application, specifically considering his lack of formal qualification or education in environmental management or planning?

Timothy Winton-Brown, Brunswick Heads

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  1. Thanks, Tim — well said! Many people are raising the same questions. To date, there are no satisfactory replies from any member of government. This is an example of planning mayhem, acted out here and throughout the state.

    It is becoming a state election issue. Join the rally on 1 March in Byron Bay. The organizing groups are the Byron Young Residents Alliance and the Byron Residents Group. They are encouraging young people to sign up to vote as well as alerting voters everywhere to the very questions that you raise here.

  2. A huge groundswell of people resonate with your views Tim. It would seem that the reason these inappropriate developments continue to occur is also linked to the fragmentation of democratic institutions. The BIG BUCK RULES and it could be argued that this fact overpowers democratic representation/accountability. I offer this quote to you and readers which I noted in the SMH Jan 17-18 written by John Birmingham.

    “No-body knows what Planning Minister Pru Goward thinks, however. Under the legislation she can hand off final responsibility for any decision to her department and quite sincerely claim to have nothing to do with the final outcome. It’s as though the Planning Minister is in no way responsible for a monstrous over-development approved by the Dept of Planning”.

    The context of the article was referring to the over-development of Sydney; added to same is the influx of huge motorways destroying business and community. The Baird govt. calling for international capital to aid polluting motorways. According to Clover Moore, Baird is totally influenced by the proposed developers.

    So we have a Planning Minister feeding of the public tit who is free to sail away from responsibility. We appear to be governed by “shadow men (and women)” who genuflect before the power of $$$$. At the end of the day communities and the environment are destroyed and the culture of pre-ICAC clones still exists (this was recently noted by legal representative Fitzgerald; who investigated corruption in Queensland decades ago).

    We witness the fragmentation of democratically elected institutions. Given the above it seems to me time to call for a moratorium on all development until greater investigation is revealed into how decisions are made!!!!!!! We could cull Ministers from their jobs (more money for tax-payers and the needy).

    More to the point who wants to live in a claimed democracy that resorts to the iron-fist in the velvet glove in the name of governance.

  3. Well expressed Tim. This is a nightmare event planned by people who will be long gone with their profits before the reality of the devastation they have wreaked has sunk in. And all of it aided and abetted by the NSW state govt. We must as a community resist the uglification of the Northern Rivers by these neanderthals – actually the neanderthals would have been more sensitive to environment.

  4. We are being governed by unfettered market forces.

    Social and environmental disasters is all we’ll ever get while the corporations are running things via our so-called political representatives.

    As long as it remains legal for corporations to make large donations to political parties to keep them in power laws will be changed as required to facilitate their developments and protect their businesses.

    Despite all the horrendous corruption uncovered by ICAC people appear to be happy to keep voting for the ALP and LNP.

    Unless a very strong message is sent via the ballot box the consequences for future generations are unthinkable.


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