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Byron Shire
September 17, 2021

Tweed’s scenic values eroded

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What are we shielding from view?

I refer to the article Coast Road’s scenic values threatened: mayor by Luis Feliu in Echonetdaily on November 13. This article highlighted the need for strategic planning to retain the scenic and environmental values of the Tweed Coast road corridor.

This need has arisen in the face of incremental, increasing pressure, as one by one, development approvals are granted that may meet the letter of the law, but none the less threaten the scenic, cultural and environmental values of the whole Tweed area.

Tweed Shire Council’s chief planner, Mr Vince Connell was reported as saying that ‘Historically, council has attempted to retain the existing vegetated setting along Tweed Coast Road, with the Casuarina and Salt developments originally being shielded from Tweed Coast Road with significant vegetation where possible.’

Shielding urban development, supermarkets, industrial development, service stations and the like from the view of passing motorists with vegetative screening is one consideration we can make in the quest to manage the unique natural environment of this area.

However, given the internationally recognised significance of this landscape, there are many more. For example, as described on the UNESCO website for this World Heritage listed area:

The Tweed Shield erosion caldera is possibly the best preserved erosion caldera in the world, notable for its size and age, for the presence of a prominent central mountain mass (Wollumbin/Mt Warning), and for the erosion of the caldera floor to basement rock. All three stages relating to the erosion of shield volcanoes (the planeze, residual and skeletal stages) are readily distinguishable. .

Appropriate development controls include not only ‘shielding’ things from view but also revealing what is wonderful to behold, without the main focus of interest being obscured by  inappropriate foreground inclusions such as large signs and buildings that block the potential for people to appreciate the World Heritage significance of what is being seen and experienced.

Echonetdaily quoted Tweed mayor Katie Milne and deputy mayor Gary Bagnall as saying that the Coles supermarket up the road at Casuarina, had significantly impacted on the integrity of the Tweed Coast Road and surrounding landscape and there was no reason to further erode the scenic drive between Kingscliff and the southern villages of the Tweed Coast.

In doing so, they are responsibly applying the principles of the NSW government’s North Coast Regional Planning Strategy and Urban Design Guidelines.

Let us look more closely at these principles and what we are shielding from view.

Let us apply these principles in conjunction with the World Heritage significance of this area to build sustainable local communities, where incremental development leads to strategic, increased support for the underlying integrity, biodiversity and beauty of the local planetary life support systems, rather than depletion and pauperisation of them.

nne Whittingham

Coolamon Scenic Drive


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  1. America has a huge network of highways that travel through scenic forests. There are even allotted parking ares so you can leave your car or RV and capture that perfect picture with the snow capped mountain and a waterfall framed just right. This type of manufactured ‘view from the road’ experience belies the extensive deforrestation and monoculture farming practices which are just out of view; like a movie set for the benefit for the tourists. Huge tracts of land along the coast are devoted to poor farming practices. There are no genuine incentives to replant watercourses and bring community back to the rural areas. Instead we focus on hiding yet another energy consuming urban development from which we commute to work and buy our food from the supermarket which trucks in food from far reaching places all over the country. This type of living is attractive because we can departmentalise the different tasks in life. One place is for sleeping , another for working, we categorise forests as wilderness as though they are somehow not civilised. Like the front yards of most of our urbane houses we are trying to show an image of who we are to the passer by. Some have high fences and locked gates. Some are manicured lawns and concrete paths. What they have in common is boundaries. Subdivision are not integrated with nature, nor are our farm lands. On the contrary we go to great lengths to apply zones to keep them separate and any attempt to merge different practices is met with layers of beaurocracy and disincentive. The true litmus test for diversity in both our rural and urban lands is, does council make it easier to mix food production with native flora and fauna and housing. Or does it complicate any attempt to be integrated in favour of compartmentalisation of land uses.


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