Community outrage over the management of public lands in Tweed and Byron shires has prompted a NSW MP to organise a series of forums on the issue next month.
Longstanding concerns over encroachments or ‘land grabs’ of public lands by state-government-run caravan parks on foreshore land at Brunswick Heads will be the focus of a forum in the coastal town on 19 August.
And the controversial transfer of a public reserve near the NSW-Queensland border at Tweed Heads to accommodate an expansion by the Gold Coast airport, which is feared will destroy a large swathe of saltmarsh vegetation and fish habitat, will be debated at a forum in Tweed Heads on 29 August.
North Coast Greens MLC, Jan Barham, who has arranged the forums, says the NSW government ‘is not meeting the objectives of the Crown Lands legislation that requires the best interests of the community and the environment to be maintained’. (see below)
Ms Barham, a former Byron shire mayor, said that in the Tweed there was community outrage over the airport expansion, which the federal government is supporting by allowing the transfer of the Crown reserve just south of main runway.
It has the potential for the destruction of significant saltmarsh vegetation and fish habitat.
‘In Byron Shire there has been ongoing concerns with the management of the Brunswick Heads caravan parks since the removal of council’s control in 2006,’ Ms Barham said.
‘The North Coast Holiday Park development proposals have proposed the denial of community access to the foreshore and over-development of the parks,’ she said.
‘The changes would affect the character of the town and the appeal for residents and visitors.
‘The proposed dredging of the Brunswick Heads harbour and river lacks appropriate environmental assessment and a long term management plan. There has also been a lack of community consultation.
‘Across the region, the government’s lack of progress in finalising a backlog of 26,000 Aboriginal Land claims is disgraceful and cultural heritage is at risk,’ she said.
Ms Barham also said the ‘north coast’s precious forests are again under threat’.
‘I have been raising in parliament the poor management of the state forests and the government’s lack of focus to ensure protection of environmental values,’ she said.
‘Now a proposal to change the forestry management protocols is raising fears that even more damage will be done to significant biodiversity,’ she said.
‘As a community we have a right to expect that the government will honour it’s legal requirements to protect and preserve public land in the interests of the people of the state.
‘We need to stand up for the protection of the “commons” and not let the state take for granted what belongs to the people of NSW and the future,’ Ms Barham said.
NSW Crown Lands Act 1989
Objects of Act
The objects of this Act are to ensure that Crown land is managed for the benefit of the people of New South Wales and in particular to provide for:
• a proper assessment of Crown land,
• the management of Crown land having regard to the principles of Crown land management contained in this Act,
(c) the proper development and conservation of Crown land having regard to those principles,
• the regulation of the conditions under which Crown land is permitted to be occupied, used, sold, leased, licensed or otherwise dealt with,
(e) the reservation or dedication of Crown land for public purposes and the management and use of the reserved or dedicated land, and
(f) the collection, recording and dissemination of information in relation to Crown land.
Principles of Crown land management
For the purposes of this Act, the principles of Crown land management are:
• that environmental protection principles be observed in relation to the management and administration of Crown land,
(b) that the natural resources of Crown land (including water, soil, flora, fauna and scenic quality) be conserved wherever possible,
• that public use and enjoyment of appropriate Crown land be encouraged,
(d) that, where appropriate, multiple use of Crown land be encouraged,
• that, where appropriate, Crown land should be used and managed in such a way that both the land and its resources are sustained in perpetuity, and
(f) that Crown land be occupied, used, sold, leased, licensed or otherwise dealt with in the best interests of the State consistent with the above principles.