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May 6, 2021

Lismore councillors push to reverse E-zone decision

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Vanessa Grindon-Ekins and Adam Guise have joined with Cr Ellie Bird to reverse a decision to make E zones voluntary. Photo Eve Jeffery.
Vanessa Grindon-Ekins and Adam Guise have joined with Cr Ellie Bird to reverse a decision to make E zones voluntary. Photo Eve Jeffery.

Three Lismore City councillors have signed a recission motion in an effort to overturn a decision made at the last council meeting making environmental zones on private land voluntary.

Greens Crs Vanessa Ekins and Adam Guise, along with Cr Ellie Bird, who ran on the Sustainable Futures ticket, were shocked at the decision of fellow ‘progressives’ last month when mayor Isaac Smith and Cr Darlene Cook sided with conservative councillors to make E-zones voluntary.

Staff had recommended that the council accept $40,000 from the Department of Planning to review proposed E-zones in the 2012 Local Environment Plan.

The proposed E-zones cover less than 1.5 per cent of the local government area and are backed by conservationists who want those areas protected and, where needed, rehabilitated.

Cr Smith defended his vote last month, saying unless properties were being managed for environmental protection they were not eligible to be counted as E-zones under a state government directive.

‘Staff say 60 to 65 per cent aren’t being managed for environmental considerations therefore they can’t have an E-zone based on the state government directive,’ he said.

‘We need to work with the landowners and have them onside for this.’

Cr Smith said it made more sense to have farmers voluntarily sign up to undertake conservation work on their properties.

Cr Greg Bennett, a fierce critic of E zones, has said he hopes the Labor councillors, Smith and Cook, hold firm on their decision to make E-zones voluntary.

Cr Neil Marks, who was successful in his alternative motion last month, said the decision was a ‘big win indeed as this has been going on for years and pulled sections of our community apart’

‘I proposed that all agricultural land be RU1 (farming) and E-Zones be voluntary for those who want them,’ Cr Marks said.

If Cr Ekins is successful with her recision motion,  the council will then again debate the issue, with another motion calling on the council to adopt the original staff recommendation from last month’s meeting.

The recision motion will be debated at the next Lismore City Council meeting, which takes place on Tuesday in the council chambers in Goonellabah from 6pm.




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  1. And we wonder why we have Climate Change that is destroying the planet when we have to squirrel away billions of dollars to try to correct?
    We wonder why that is so?
    The macro of the planet is out of contriol because the micro that is manageable by councils is not managed.

    • There is no point whatsoever trying to mandate farmers to change farming practices. Persuasion and incentive make much more sense. Besides, most farmers I have met in this area are already way ahead in terms of conservation and sustainability.

      And what is this faux horror on the part of Ekins and Guise. This so called “progressives love in” that gained traction in some circles is a load of bollocks. Are they upset that Mayor Smith and Councillor Cook voted with the so called “conservatives”? Or is it that members of the so called “progressives” could rationally look at facts and not come to the table wanting to bludgeon hard working farmers over the head with red tape!

      And please can we stop calling the Labor Councillors “progressives”! Those of us on the Labor side of the fence are the “goodies”! The rest of you mob are, collectively, “the baddies”. Especially you Greg!

  2. Were the E zones based purely on what biological assets existed there, or more widely on this and the land capability as well as what biological assets existed there? For areas where farming had occurred in the past (ie. not remnant bushland never previously used for farming) it seems a harsh impact on farmers to disallow them to use the area again for farming (unless fair compensation is paid for the property rights) – unless it is an area of land objectively assessable as not suitable for farming using the standard land capability classification system. For areas where farming had never occurred in the past it seems much fairer to disallow farmers to use the area for farming. Can this decision be made on that (defensible, rational, objective) basis or do the various councillors expect to settle this on the basis of politics alone?


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