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January 26, 2022

Iron Gates opponents want EPA investigation details released

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An aerial photo showing further clearing at the Iron Gates site in April this year. The state government has announced it could not find enough evidence to show the clearing was illegal. (supplied)
An aerial photo showing further clearing at the Iron Gates site in April this year. The state government has announced it could not find enough evidence to show the clearing was illegal. (supplied)

Opponents of the proposed Iron Gates residential development in Evans Head want to know why the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) decided not to prosecute the developer for alleged illegal clearing on the environmentally sensitive site on the Evans River.

After two years investigating alleged illegal clearing under the Native Vegetation Act 2003 and the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, the EPA announced last week that no further action would be taken apart from .

Evans Head Residents for Sustainable Development Inc. spokesman Dr Peter Ashley said that in light of the contoversial nature of the proposed development and the time it had taken to investigate the clearing, the EPA should release the reasons for their decision.

Dr Ashley said although photographs clearly showed clearing at Iron Gates in 2014, the EPA has decided there was no case to answer despite saying they were negotiating with the site owner Goldcoral Pty Ltd, one of the Ingles Group of companies, about “remedial direction”.

He pointed out that another of the Ingles’ companies was the subject of a previous NSW Land & Environment Court judgement brought by the EPA over Iron Gates almost thirty years ago but no enforcement action was taken.

The most recent decision has been shrouded in secrecy with the EPA not wanting to reveal information in the public space.

‘It is concerning that after spending two years on their investigation without a word the EPA remain tight-lipped,’ Dr Ashley said.

‘Information on the EPA decision including details of any remedial directions are vital in the interests of accountability, transparency and the the public interest given the controversial nature of Iron Gates.

‘The community expects more from a government body such as the EPA.’

‘The EPA decision not only reflects poorly on the corporate character of the developer company Goldcoral Pty Ltd but also has significant ramifications for the proposed development.

‘Any remedial directions over the Iron Gates site need to be taken into account by the Department of Planning & Environment who are assessing the Iron Gates Draft Master Plan, as well as Richmond Valley Council in their assessment of the development application,’ Dr Ashley said.

 


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