Tweed shire mayor Katie Milne and deputy mayor Gary Bagnall’s consistent voting in favour of the environment is commended.
Councillors Warren Polglase, Carolyn Byrne and Phil Youngblutt generally vote in favour of development, but at least we know what they stand for.
As for Cr Barry Longland, he was voted in with a promise of ‘policies that ensure our natural assets are preserved’. In September 2014 he stated ‘I am keen to protect koalas and have them thrive’.
However, he voted to leave the koala protection gates at the Black Rocks sports field open during the day, and then remove them, against the recommendations of council’s Koala Advisory Committee.
He voted for a koala grid and against a report into its suitability and efficacy. At the January and May 2015 council meetings he said the gates would be removed regardless of the findings of a study into Black Rocks koala numbers.
Contrary to recommendations of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, he voted against Cr Milne’s notice of motion for automated gates to be installed. He is now calling for a report into automated gates, with a council resolution still in place for a grid.
He would not wait for a soon-to-be-released study into noise impacts on koalas prior to approval of a Men’s Shed only 20m from primary koala habitat (incorrectly arguing at the 10 December 2015 council meeting that fire risk was not a problem because it would be 40-50m from the bushland).
And then the water issue: reneging on his negotiated agreement with mayor Milne for an independent review into sustainable water options.
It is up to the community to ensure that the councillors they vote in at the next election are trustworthy, well-informed, responsible and are not prepared to sacrifice the Tweed Shire’s natural assets in order that developers can make a fast buck.
David Norris , president, Threatened Species Conservation Society, Pottsville