An Evans Head group has blasted the approval of a 199-lot manufactured homes estate adjacent to runways at the Evans Head Memorial Airport.
Dr Richard Gates, president of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee, said the state government’s Northern Regional Planning Panel chaired by Garry West yesterday approved the development despite serious concerns raised by the committee.
‘The JRPP was just ticking the box for public consultation and in my view gave no real attention to the very serious concerns raised in our objections,’ Dr Gates said.
‘In particular they gave no attention whatsoever to the public safety issue created by putting a very dense residential development so close to active runways, a classic land use planning conflict.
‘My Committee’s comment to the community about this development is Caveat Emptor, buyer beware. There is no defined public safety zone between the active airfield and this development and in our view the public is potentially being put at risk.
‘While they had no current legal obligation to do so, they had a clear moral obligation to do so because the public is put at risk and the State government knows that there is a problem with development being too close to active airfields. ‘
Dr Gates accused the state government of catering to ‘greedy developers’ who couldn’t care less about public safety.
‘The State government has been dragging its feet about Public Safety Zones as it panders to the big developer lobby and our airfield infrastructure is being chewed up by greedy developers who could care less about public safety.
‘The Federal and State governments are particularly keen to avoid public safety zones because of the implications they would have for the Badgery’s Creek Airport.’
He also accused the Richmond Valley Council of going out of its way to ensure that information about the development was kept from the public.
‘Council had no notices about the JRPP hearing on its website, and its DA tracker not only hadn’t been updated for months but had no information at all about important matters relating to the development,’ he said.
‘We were kept in the dark and it is our view that this was deliberate. It seems to us that council is failing in its duty to keep us informed about things which matter.
‘Any trust we had in this council and its processes in looking after the public interest have been destroyed. ‘
He said his committee was now seeking independent advice about the JRPP decision and Richmond Valley Council’s management of process.
He said the committee received a notice in the mail about the hearing just eight days before the scheduled time.