After six months of sending submissions, letters and petitions to the Department of Planning and Environment from which issued one pro-forma letter with no relevance to the West Byron development, as well as to the premier who forwarded his submission on to the DoPE, it appears that this department is the dead-letter dropbox of the NSW government.
A strategic decision was made to transfer communication and submissions to the Dept of Environment, which was promptly sent to the Office of Environment and Heritage. Finally a relevant communiqué, which did address many of the issues related to the development of West Byron, while also saying that the DoPE was the consent authority and communication needs to be addressed to them. This is how our efficient government departments work – all passing the buck to the dead-letter office of DoPE!
However, the OEH stated they had made several submissions to the DoPE on the West Byron Urban Release rezoning proposal and most of the interests that concerned them have been satisfactorily addressed, including sulfate soils and flooding issues. Some issues that still concerned them related to certain zoning areas that they recommended changing; having flexibility within the DCP to allow the consent authority to consider environmental impacts in line with the avoid-mitigate-offset approach and consideration given to both the E2 and E3 zones with respect to the rehabilitation of conservation areas.
Did the DoPE adopt any of their recommendations or did they fall on deaf ears in the DoPE’s dead-letter department? It seems that, as per Dailan Pugh’s letter in The Echo March 4, that it is still totally acceptable to rezone ‘a third of the koala habitat for houses and shops, to allow acid sulfate soils to be drained down to a metre without further assessment’.
This DCP is an affront to the long years of knowledge and expertise gained by all the environment scientists, biologists, and others who know what the dire consequences of such an intensive development will be.
It is an insult to the whole community who trusted the Baird government, who stated that they would not take LEPs away from communities (Quentin Dempster’s last 7.30 NSW program, Nov 2014). Shame on you, Pru Goward and premier Baird.
Robbie Winter-Blick, Byron Bay