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Byron Shire
September 19, 2021

Broken Head DA heads to court

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Arakwal Bundjalung women Theresa Nicholls and Aunty Dulcie Nicholls. Photo Tree Faerie
Arakwal Bundjalung women Theresa Nicholls and Aunty Dulcie Nicholls think the area surrounding the Ti Tree lake should remain undeveloped.

Eve Jeffery

A proposed housing development at the old Broken Head Quarry at Suffolk Park is causing headaches for Byron Shire Council and the local mob as the decision on its go-ahead will likely be made by people who don’t live here.

Last year’s decision by council to refuse the DA was unanimous, and there is strong opposition from residents, the Arakwal Bundjalung people and others who respect the traditional Aboriginal Ti Tree Lake birthing place that is part of the site.

Nevertheless, the unsuccessful applicants, EMGA Mitchell McLenanan Pty Ltd, are taking their argument for a subdivision to create 45 lots on Broken Head Road to court.

Greens MLC and a long time protector of the area Jan Barham has made submission to see the development stopped.

’I have been involved in the protection of Broken Head since the early nineties’, said Ms Barham. ‘The site is part of the significant biodiversity of the Broken Head area and the quarry has had a negative impact on the ecological values of the area.’

Arakwal Bundjalung elder Aunty Dulcie Nicholls says that many years ago she and her sisters had great hopes that the Broken Head Quarry site would be rehabilitated.

Ms Barham says that the area is part of a wildlife corridor and contains endangered flora and fauna. ‘The proposal for the extension of the quarry always identified an end point to the destruction of the site and required rehabilitation at the finalisation of the quarry approval.’

Byron Shire Council’s coordinator of legal services, Ralph James, said all lodged development applications (DA) are determined on merit. ‘Regarding the Broken Head Community Title DA, it was refused  for various reasons related to not fitting in with the 1988 LEP, planning strategies and environmental concerns.’

Mr James said the DA proponents have the right to challenge the determination in the Land and Environment Court, which then requires the council to defend its decision. ‘As part of that process, a court-directed conciliation conference will be held before a commissioner of the court. The conciliation conference allows the proponent, council, the objectors and state government agencies to meet and voice their concerns.’

The conciliation conference is part of the court process.

The proposed development is located within the boundaries of the Bundjalung of Byron Bay – Arakwal People native title claim area, which was originally lodged in 1994.

The claim group say they have concerns about the appropriateness and impact of the residential developments which are proposed at the site.

The Arakwal Elders say they always wanted the site rehabilitated to protect the cultural values of the area.

‘The traditional custodians of this country have serious concerns about the environmental impacts of any such development on their land and waters,’ they said in a statement.

Arakwal Bundjalung dubay: Nickolla, Theresa, Aunty Dulcie, Rhonda, Delta and Kaitlyn. Photo Tree Faerie.
Arakwal Bundjalung dubay: Nickolla, Theresa, Aunty Dulcie, Rhonda, Delta and Kaitlyn. The Ti Tree lake and surrounds are a sacred place for local women.

‘The claim group believe that the proposed developments will lead to too many houses being built in a part of their Country that is already suffering from over-development, including the Ti Tree Lake, which is one of the most significant sacred Aboriginal women’s sites in the Byron Shire,’ they added.

The Ti tree Aboriginal women’s lake was declared an Aboriginal Place in 2000 and native title claim group are working with key stakeholders to protect the cultural values of the Ti Tree Lake Aboriginal Place.

Echonetdaily contacted EMGA Mitchell McLenanan but at the time of publication had received no response.

‘The site has never been anticipated for residential development in any of the strategic planning processes of council over the last two decades’, says Jan Barham. ‘The site should be rehabilitated to protect and preserve the ecological values of the area’.


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  1. I understand that part of the DA for the quarry was to rehabilitate the site. This is an important part of best practice for mining areas once the company has had their turn. The mining company agreed to this back then. Have they put aside profits towards rehabilitation? Have they planned to honour the conditions of their consent? If not, why not? These are the explanations about corporate responsibility I imagine we all want to hear.

  2. We must preserve Aboriginal cultural heritage. Too much is lost already. Habitats must also be protected.

  3. Of course the environment must be preserved at all cost .
    That , is the imperative.
    Whether or not the aboriginal tribe consider claiming it as a “sacred site” is immaterial, as of course all Australia is a “sacred site”.


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