The future of Kingscliff’s controversial Lot 490 is now in the hands of the Tweed-Byron Aboriginal Land Council.
The title deeds to the land were handed over Aboriginal elders at a ceremony last week by NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Leslie Williams and Tweed MP Geoff Provest.
Mr Provest said no issue had drawn more community attention or polarised opinions as much as Lot 490.
‘For more than a decade we have seen consultations, promises, protests and petitions in order to determine the future of the land and balance the conflicting proposals for its use,’ Mr Provest said.
Lot 490 is more correctly described as being Lots 1 and 2 DP1117599 and was formerly Crown Land. In 2005, the plan of management identified that Lot 1 should be used for tourist accommodation while Lot 2 should be managed for public recreation and environmental protection.
In 2008, the then Labor Government entered into an agreement with Leighton Properties for the development of a tourist resort on Lot 1 and in 2012, development consent was given. However, in late 2012 Leighton subsequently advised the government that it was not proceeding with the project.
Petitions calling for the property in its entirety to be protected were presented to Parliament on 13 August 2013 and 5 August 2014. However, on 13 June 2013, an Aboriginal land Claim was made over Lot 1 and Lot 2 and any future plans for the land were put on hold until this could be determined.
In October 2015, Labor introduced a bill into the NSW Parliament which would have seen Lot 490 become a National Park before the claim was determined. This would have constrained the ways the land could be used by the Aboriginal owners and was opposed by indigenous groups.
Mr Provest said it was now up to the Aboriginal people to determine the future of Lot 490.
NSW Aboriginal Affairs Minister Leslie Williams said that LALCs such as Tweed Byron LALC were able to use the land claims they were awarded to best suit their needs.
‘The land claims process exists as a compensatory measure to provide economic, social and cultural benefit to Aboriginal Communities,’ Mrs Williams said.
However, Mr Provest said that plans for the future use of the land must take environmental protections and zoning restrictions into account.
‘Lot 490 is now private property under the control of our local Land Council and I wish it well as it manages this important cultural asset,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Ron Cooper, spokesman for residents opposed to the development of Lot 490, said residents had never opposed the Aboriginal land claim, but were surprised that it moved so quickly up a list of outstanding land claims.
‘After Geoff Provest’s near death experience at the last election I think the state government wanted this issue off the table so it’s not hanging around at the next election,’ Mr Cooper said.
Mr Cooper said although a portion of the land was already zoned for a tourist development there was no indication that the Land Council would sell it.
‘Now they have to abide by normal development rules,’ he said.
Mr Cooper also indicated that the group opposed to the development of Lot 490 would be widening its interests and running candidates in the next council elections.