Chris Dobney & Aslan Shand
Labor candidate for Ballina, Asren Pugh, wants voters to be given a say over the future of Brunswick Holiday Parks and southern Terrace Reserve.
And he has called on Byron Shire Council to make ‘no long-term decisions… about southern Terrace Reserve that would stop it being handed back to the community after the state election due in March next year’.
Mr Pugh has been running a campaign and community petition to stop the privatisation of the Brunswick Holiday Parks and calling for southern Terrace Reserve to be handed back as community space.
This week’s Byron Shire council agenda includes a recommendation from council staff to approve a licence application from the state-owned holiday-park conglomerate Reflections, which would allow camping on southern Terrace Reserve and could potentially allow the destruction of an endangered ecological community of coastal cypress pines.
Mr Pugh is calling on councillors to reject the application.
‘If council approves this license at Thursday’s meeting it could make it harder for a new Labor government to open this space back up to the community. Council can still approve the camping license for the other parts of Terrace Reserve to operate and reject the application to operate in this sensitive area.’
‘We need to listen to the community and save our public green space in Brunswick Heads.
‘I am determined to make saving the precious public space in Brunswick Heads and stopping the privatisation of the parks an election issue,’ he said.
Campaigners supports action
A long-time campaigner against the progressive encroachment of the parks, Patricia Warren, told Echonetdaily she supports the call for it to become an election issue.
Patricia Warren said ‘the southern area of the Terrace Reserve is already listed as an Endangered Ecological Community, on the National Trust of Australia, as an Avenue of Honour on Treenet, a WW1 Memorial with the NSW State Library, to be on Council’s LEP’s Environmental Heritage list and Council is pursuing Heritage Listing on the State Register’.
‘The cost to the community of this foreshore parkland being given over to NSW Crown Holiday Park Trust’s agenda to turn it into 30 commercial sites and the lopping of nominated coastal cypress pines is not in the greater community good,’ she told Echonetdaily.
‘The future of the southern area will be determined in Council on September 20, when councillors must make the decision to either support the community’s long-term campaign to protect this area or capitulate to the Trust’s agenda.
‘If Councillors refuse the Trust, then it and the other foreshore parklands already taken by the Trust, deserve to become an election issue,’ Ms Warren said.
Trust hits back
The Trust has hit back at the claims, saying that it is not about to be privatised, is contributing more than $1 million to the ‘enhancement of crown lands in Brunswick Heads’, and is implementing a ‘proprietary’ system to protect the root structure of the heritage-listed pines.
Reflections’ CEO Steve Edmonds said in a statement, ‘the care and protection of the tree community within the group’s Terrace Reserve park has always been a prime consideration with strong measures proposed to Byron Shire Council to ensure tree health in the southern precinct’.
He said proposed plans for the Terrace Reserve park included:
- Reducing the number of camping sites from 54 to 30 ‘to further protect the trees’;
- Preparing Vegetation Management Plans ‘to address improving the quality of the tree community within the group’s Terrace Reserve park’;
- Protecting cypress pine root zones ‘with a proprietary root protection system (load cells) where camping activities encroach into root zone areas’;
- Reducing maximum vehicle sizes the southern precinct;
- Installing a Terrace buffer zone along the top of the estuary to increase the regeneration area, improve public access and amenity; and
- Relocating permanent residents encroaching on the foreshore to create the community buffer zone.
But activist Sean O’Meara said, ‘Council has to decide whether or not it will support the expertise of a globally recognised ecologist, Dr Rob Kooyman or Reflections Level 8 Arbortist.
‘The difference between the two approaches is to either recognise and act to preserve, protect and rehabilitate the natural ecosystem (as is legally required for an EEC) or to continue to allow camping in this area which according to Dr Kooyman will ensure the long-term demise of the EEC.
‘If no regeneration of the trees can continue, which it can’t in a tourist park, then the community of trees simply has no future,’ Mr O’Meara said.
Mr Pugh said that so far over 700 people have signed his petition, including over 650 on paper at market stalls.
The community can support the campaign by signing the petition at www.nswlabor.org.au/save_brunswick_holiday_parks.