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