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Byron Shire
December 7, 2021

Opponents slam Iron Gates DA inadequacies

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A section of the Iron Gates site that was cleared last year without approvals. (supplied)
A section of the Iron Gates site that was cleared last year without approvals. (supplied)

Darren Coyne

Opponents of the Iron Gates development at Evans Head are demanding that the controversial proposal be re-advertised.

Dr Richard Gates.
Dr Richard Gates.

Dr Richard Gates from the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee said the Richmond Valley Council’s general manager John Walker had admitted that more information was being sought from the developer.

Mr Walker said in January that ‘following the completion of council’s own assessment (of the DA), and from issues raised in the submissions and by some government agencies more information was now being sought from Gold Coral (the proponent).

Mr Walker said issues raised included the adequacy of the flora and fauna assessment prepared by the applicant, through to the potential impacts of Iron Gates on future development of the Evans Head Aerodrome.

Concerns had also been raised about the proximity of the RAAF’s Evans Head bombing range, the impact of the outstanding court orders related to a previous DA on the land, Aboriginal cultural heritage and the impact of residential development, and the economic impacts of an increased population, as well as infrastructure issues.

Dr Gates said he was surprised that the council had sanctioned the advertisement of the DA when it was ‘abundantly clear’ that the application was inadequate.

‘Even ‘Blind Freddy’ could see that the application was not complete,’ Dr Gates said.

‘Council needs to explain to ratepayers why their time has been wasted on such a long-standing, controversial matter which has already cost them dearly.

‘A good example of the DA’s inadequacy is the proponent’s report entitled Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment dated September 2014.

‘By its own admission, it was not complete and an updated version was to be ‘resubmitted’ to council.

‘Surely this admission should have been reason enough for council to withhold advertisement of the DA until the report was complete..

The Echonetdaily reported in January that 60 submissions had been receieved during the DA’s advertising period.

After decades of uncertainty, the development came back on the radar in June last year after residents complained of alleged illegal clearing at the site.

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage confirmed it was investigating the clearing of the site, which is bordered by the Evans River, and national parks.

Despite that investigation, the development application was lodged and advertised by the new development company, Coast Coral Pty Ltd, which is headed up by Graeme Ingles, whose company Iron Gates Pty Ltd gained approval for 650 houses back in the 1990s.

At the time Mr Ingles was pushing for 800 lots on the site but activists blockaded the site and legal action was launched against the developer.

Dr Gates has also called on the council to reveal the size of the subsidy the council was planning to give the developer.

‘Council said last year in June that it was proposing to discount the sewerage charges from $32,437 to $8,000 per ET, a 75 per cent reduction which could amount to millions of dollars.

‘We need to hear what council has agreed to including other concessions it may have made.

‘It’s all a bit rich for council to be offering such a huge discount given the nearly 40 per cent rate hike it has imposed on ratepayers and the million dollars the Iron Gates has already cost ratepayers.’

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  1. This development application stinks of the development corruption days in the Tweed. It is reported that Mr Ingles illegally cleared native vegetation, twice. The first one was supposed to be remediated and that never happened. Why is this even still being allowed to continue? He is being investigated by the EPA which is a laugh. The EPA is found to be inadequate at enforcing environmental regulations. We need a major house cleaning in the state election so our tax payments are used to make sure that it’s not geared towards protecting developers, corporations, mining companies and special interest groups. Time that government stands up for the people as was meant with local and state government. Richmond Valley Council should do the right thing and not give this developer any concessions since it’s cost us so much money and the developer seems to have proven that he can’t be trusted!

  2. Dr Gates presents a thorough and accurate picture of what is going on just outside the small town of Evans Head. I would like to add a question. Why would anyone want to live there? It is in the middle of a swamp with an access road through wetlands! I have visited the area frequently during my thirteen years in Evans Head and have seen it flooded many times. I have been ‘chased out’ by mosquitoes & sand flies.
    I have a concern that if the proposed development goes ahead, potential purchasers will not know that their home insurance will be very high because of potential flooding. Some people in Woodburn have annual insurance bills of $8,000.00! Building higher or bringing in ‘fill’ does not seem to make a difference. When building in a fire prone area such as this, construction costs are higher because of fire regulations. This can add many thousands of dollars to the ‘build’.
    There are alternative development sites for new builds across the boarders in Ballina and Lismore Shires that are flood free and not fire prone and if being close to the ocean is important Ballina would tick all the boxes for a lower cost. There are also empty blocks in Evans Head and room to in-fill.
    I know that RVC is anxious to increase it’s rate base in order to remain viable as a local council but is it worth destroying a wildlife corridor containing many rare and endangered species, between the Bundjalung and Broadwater National Parks, and exposing one of the cleanest rivers in NSW to further pollution, to develop a site which has so much historical significance to the local Bandjalang families.
    People of the this region should raise their voices to stop this current development as they did back in the 1990s.

    • The remediation ordered by the Land and environment Court was never done and the new proponent is GoldCoral who’s managing director is Graham Ingles the bankrupt director of the previous Gold Coast development company and he fought the previous Richmond River Shire in court which cost the ratepayers $1 million. One has to wonder why they would still have any dealings with him on both a State and Local Government level or why he is still allowed to operate after multiple insolvencies

  3. In connection with the Irongates DA – Are RVC Councillors asleep at the wheel? Why does it fall to the residents to ask the obvious questions? Councillors whether or not they are championing the development owe it to current and future residents to inquire a bit beyond what is presented to them by the General Manager and staff. Is it lack of ability or willingness or something else that prevents Councillors from reading the DA and coming up with some rather blatant shortcomings and concerns? Councillors can demand information to understand the DA. Unlike residents, who must undertake the time delays and costs of Freedom of Information applications in extracting information from RVC. Why the rush and lack of transparency in this DA?

    • Well said Ian. Seems the council are slow learners? After spending years and $! million fighting Mr Ingles over the previous DA approval which was breached and the State Government should also pursue him for failing to do the remediation why is this proposal even under consideration?

  4. It was a clandestine action to push that dozer into a court protected site waiting for rehabilitation , it took some Gall to assume that if they pushed ahead with this secret agenda and get it up on Hookers wall as a going concern, that the land & environment court would withdraw its previous Order and give them the approvals they need. Either they are extraordinary naïve or are privy to some inside advise that gave them the hide to proceed with this extensive clearing and thinning out slopes in a koala habitat, without any effort to advise the necessary interest groups to regulate their movements with consideration for wildlife and aboriginal site impacts. It was a cowboy action, deliberately secretive with the intention to make the extensive clearing a reality then influence the consequences after the damage has been done. How many animals were injured and thrown in the fire that evening .I personally smelt a strong odour of cooking meat in one of the two fire’s on the evening after the main clearings in MAY. It seems so obvious to me that this clearing was an intentional act to deceive the public and push an agenda in contempt of an existing court order.


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