A majority of Lismore City councillors last night knocked back an attempt to do away with the recently approved Biodiversity Management Plan.
The BMS involves a special rate variation that aims to raise $500,000 for environmental works, mainly in rural areas.
The BMS was approved at last month’s council meeting but five dissenting councillors lodge a rescission motion against the decision.
That motion was debated last night, but the decision to adopt the plan was supported by a majority of the councillors.
They were mayor Jenny Dowell, Simon Clough, Vanessa Ekins, Isaac Smith, Ray Houston and Glenys Richie.
Cr Greg Bennett, Gianpiero Battista, Neil Marks, Graham Meinke and and Mathew Scheibel.
Following the meeting, mayor Dowel posted a message on her Facebook page saying the rescission motion had failed.
‘5 Councillors tried to overturn last month’s decision in support of the Biodiversity Management Strategy by lodging a rescission motion- we debated it at an extraordinary meeting tonight and it was lost so last month’s decision to support the BMS – and a special rate variation to implement it – stands,’ Cr Dowell said.
The BMS will be accompanied by a rate rise, which is expected to start on July 1 2016.
At the previous meeting, Crs Jenny Dowell, Isaac Smith, Ray Houston, Vanessa Ekins, Simon Clough and Glenys Richie supported the strategy.
Greens Cl Vanessa Ekins had argued the strategy was the culmination of eleven-year process that had involved three environmental committees and extensive consultation.
‘We want it, we need it, we can afford it,” she said.
‘Water, air and soil are important and they are under threat.’
But Cr Bennett, perhaps the most vocal critic, argued the BMS would do nothing to assist farmers.
He argued that farmers’ incomes had declined in real terms by around 60 per cent over the last 50 or so years, while their costs were up 20 per cent in real terms.
‘Full time farmers simply have no capacity to pay rate increases,’ he said.
However, supportive Cls argued that 70 per cent of money raised by the special rate would be earmarked for projects in the rural areas.