Ballina Shire Council mayor David Wright has refused to state his support or otherwise for a petrochemical plant that residents fear would be built near their rural Teven homes.
While multinational Fulton Hogan are yet to lodge a development application (DA) before Ballina Council, residents and politicians converged on Saturday at Tintenbar Hall to discuss the project.
The No Bloody Way campaign against any proposed asphalt factory is headed by the Teven Tintenbar Community Association.
Mayor Wright, who was at the meeting, told The Echo, ‘We as councillors cannot make up our minds before seeing the DA – there is nothing for Council to consider. The proponent will need to lodge not just a DA, but an environmental impact statement (EIS) and undertake community consultation.’
‘Anyone can apply to develop anything,’ he said, ‘even of it’s not allowable.’
Yet the mayor conceded that the project could be built within the zoning.
When asked if Ballina Council’s planning laws reflect community expectations in this regard, he replied that they did.
‘I don’t know anywhere else apart from an industrial estate where you would put such a plant,’ he said.
The mayor also questioned where residents got their information from, such as the claim it will operate 24/7. ‘No similar plant in the area operates 24/7.’
And while residents are urging councillors to stop the process now, Mayor Wright expressed his fear that Council could be taken to court if they reject any proposal for the site.
Meanwhile the cause is bringing locals together. Resident Jo Mainprize said of the Saturday gathering, ‘I know a lot of locals, but I met Teven and Tintenbar residents there that I had never seen before.’
Speakers from the community included Josh Browne, president of the Teven Tintenbar Community Association and Paul Rizzo, vice-president of the association. Member for Ballina Tamara Smith MP, Labor candidate for Ballina Asren Pugh, Ballina Shire councillors Keith Williams and Sharon Parry all made passionate speeches against the proposal.
‘We have heard stories of living near an asphalt plant,’ said Tamara Smith MP.
‘The risks are just too high. It’s development by stealth and it’s unfair.
‘Our beautiful rural land is more valuable than a petrochemical plant in terms of intergenerational resources. Looking at how many people have come out today, I congratulate you. My position is no bloody way.’
For more information go to www.nobloodyway.com.