Opponents of a proposed residential development at the Iron Gates site in Evans Head are calling on the Environment Protection Authority to investigate new clearing at the site.
An aerial survey of the site indicates there has been clearing in recent weeks in the same areas that were cleared almost two years ago despite no approvals in place.
The site, which was subject to NSW Land and Environment Court challenges twenty years ago, has never been properly remediated, despite court orders.
Instead, the state government allowed the exhibition of a draft master plan for the subdivision, which would allow for 176 residential lots and four public reserves with fire trails.
The exhibition finished last month.
Yet despite the planning process being ongoing, opponents say work has been carried out as late as last week.
Evans Head Residents for Sustainable Development Inc. spokesman Dr Richard Gates said it was time for the EPA to properly investigate the clearing and determine whether it was legal or not.
‘It is of concern that here we are two years down the track since the original work was done and we haven’t had a peep out of the EPA,’ Dr Gates said.
‘Was the clearing legal or not? A clear answer is called for particularly given the history of the site and the outstanding rehabilitation Court Orders over the site from the Land and Environment Court from the late 90’s.
‘We not only need to have a decision but the public needs to hear what the basis of that decision is.’
Meanwhile, solicitors from the NSW Environmental Defenders Office, representing Evans Head resident Dr Peter Ashley, have lodged an appeal with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) seeking details of meetings between the developer and Richmond Valley councillors.
An EDO spokesperson said while the council had released details of meetings between council staff and the proponent, it maintained that records of councillors’ meetings were not held by the council and that the council’s function does not extend to inquiring into meetings held by councillors.
Dr Ashley has appealed to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) seeking a review of the council’s decision under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW).
Another planning meeting of NCAT is expected to be held today (19 April, 2016)