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Byron Shire
September 21, 2021

Group raises access issues over Evans Head workers’ donga

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The location of the proposed donga, adjacent to the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome. (supplied)
The location of the proposed donga, adjacent to the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome. (supplied)

Has Richmond Valley Council approved a ‘caravan park’ for Pacific Highway workers with no access from the site to the main road?

The Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee has acquired title searches for the land adjacent to the aerodrome that clearly state that there is a restriction on entry and access from the site to Woodburn Road.

Committee president Dr Richard Gates said there should be an investigation into the management of Richmond Valley Council with a particular focus on planning processes.

Dr Gates said the access issues were not raised in the two statements of environmental effects, despite the access issues being raised during the first round of public consultation.

‘Our town planner tells us that the DA should have been refused on these grounds alone yet council failed to insist that the developer and Newton Denny Chapelle address the matter,’ he said.

’What is going on here?’

Dr Gates said another report about fire risk by the Rural Fire Service, dated 15 January, and was also ignored.

‘There was a subsequent report on the development dated 8 March based on advice provided to them by council which was included in the consent conditions from council dated 24 March but none of this was available to the public so that they had the opportunity to comment.

Dr Gates said the plans for the development also changed after the opportunity for public comment closed.

He said the committee had lodged a freedom of information request on the matter.

‘The DA was going to the council meeting of 15 March but that didn’t happen.

‘But some nine days later council staff gave approval to the development behind closed doors and out of the public view. How come the change of tack?

‘It is now almost three weeks since council approved the development and there has been no letter from council informing us of the decision.  Seems that advice from council is all by press release.

‘All of this begs many questions such as why is council being so secretive, why did it keep important information from the public, why did it refuse to bring the DA to council but gave it the thumbs up some nine days after a council meeting? ‘And what is the involvement of councillors in all of this?

What did they know of the matter and what was asked of them behind closed doors?

‘In our view there is something seriously wrong with planning processes in Richmond Valley Council.  There are too many unanswered questions.  This is becoming more than a set of legal questions to be examined.

Dr Gates said the fact that so much was being kept secret from the public should set off alarm bells in any fair-minded citizen.

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