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.