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Byron Shire
March 27, 2023

E zones to be flexible for some land owners says Byron Council

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Section of e-zone map around Bangalow. Image Byron Shire Council

The implementation of E zones in the Byron Shire has generated significant concern by landowners over its implementation. Byron Shire Council has now talked to more than 300 people and received more than 600 submissions from land owners and and members of the public on the issue.

E zones are a zoning that can be placed on areas of land that are considered to have high environmental value.

E2 zoning relates to environmental conservation and primarily applies to areas of high ecological, scientific or cultural value that should be protected for environmental conservation purposes where commercial agricultural activities are not carried out

E3 environmental management and primarily applies to areas containing special ecological or cultural attributes that require careful consideration/management. This zone allows for a wider range of land use activities that are compatible with these attributes.

However, many land owners are concerned that after years of revegetating their land at their own cost their properties would be devalued and significant restrictions placed on how they could build on and manage their land in the future with the implementation of E zones. This was compared to the properties where land owners had kept the land in a degraded condition and was therefore not considered of high environmental value and therefore open to a wider range of activities.

Voluntary re-vegetation

Byron Shire Council has recently stated that ‘Land that has been voluntarily re-vegetated by the current land owner, without public funding, will not have an E2 or E3 zone applied without agreement’.

Some land owners were concerned that they would be disadvantaged because they had spent many years re-vegetating their properties at their own cost, and the consistent message from Council is that no new E zones will apply unless the land owner agrees,’ said Shannon Burt, Byron Shire Council’s Director Sustainable Environment and Economy.

‘Most land owners we spoke to did not have a problem with the E zones especially when they realised they did not stop lawful uses of the land, and did not require people to do extra work to manage areas of important vegetation.’

The key E zone facts are relating to E zones according to council are:

‘An E zone does not impose any obligation on land owners to fence off important vegetation, undertake weed removal or actively plant more native vegetation.

An E zone does not prevent lawful uses from continuing, including agricultural activities and other approved developments.

Land that has been voluntarily re-vegetated by the current land owner, without public funding, will not have an E2 or E3 zone applied without agreement.

‘Incentives are available for land owners carrying out conservation works. For more information click here.

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  1. If e-zones don’t change anything why introduce them in the first place.
    Is this green ideology gone mad? Protection of RU1 land and farm/food sustainability should be Councils highest priority.

  2. There are apparently several serious omissions & distortions by Byron Council staff in this matter.
    It is a myth that E-zones are necessary to protect the environment – there are several State and Federal laws protecting the environment. E -zones basically sterilise the land from any possible productive uses.
    Note that Kyogle & Lismore councillors decided to have no E zones at all.
    Councils like Byron & Ballina keep claiming that landowners have “existing use rights”. In fact these rights are known to be transitory (lapse readily), are quite limited (no “intensification” or “change of use” allowed), with the onus of proof on the landholder. For example no dwellings can be added.
    The landholder would have to spend big $ to defend those rights in Land & Environment Court and would risk a high chance of failure.
    Councils do not advise landowners that E-zoning has a huge effect on land values. In fact the possible “permitted” uses under E-zones are so highly limited even when compared to past “environmental” sounding zones that devaluations are of the order of 50% and would likely make the land very difficult to sell. Even a partial E-zone on a parcel land would have that effect.
    The exemption from E-zoning for voluntarily re-vegetated land will lapse once ownership of the land changes, even when the owners are the descendants of the planter.
    Byron Council have so far ignored the very specific criteria in the relevant s.117(2) Ministerial Directive of zoning land according to the “primary use” over the last two years, and have extended the proposed E-zones well beyond the previous attempt in 2014. This ideologically driven agenda is being carried out at large cost to Council.
    Any landholder who values their property would be well advised to strongly and persistently challenge such zoning with both Council and the NSW Minister for Planning.


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