Michele Grant, Foreshore Protection Group
Byron Shire Council (BSC) endorsed a new licence agreement with Reflections Holiday Parks granting approval to operate (AtO) in Terrace Reserve Park on 20 September, subject to a special condition: option B.
Option B states that there will be no further activity in the Southern Area Precinct, Coastal Cypress Pines Community, and all existing infrastructure, except the existing amenities facility, is to be removed where safe.
Yet the camping continues in the Endangered Ecological community (EEC) area.
Reflections management has yet to respond to Council’s directive; and BSC’s compliance department has not attempted to enforce the rules or ensure future bookings have been cancelled.
Nationals MLC Ben Franklin claims Reflections should continue to operate in the contentious area because the manager is ‘committed to ensuring environmental protections’. Is Mr Franklin suggesting Reflections can operate outside their licensed boundaries?
The Echo states Ben Franklin ‘has backed his government’s controversial stance to allow commercial activity and current management to continue’. Who has ‘backed’ what? When was BSC’s licence agreement overturned and by whom?
Minister for local government Gabrielle Upton, who is responsible for endorsing Council’s new AtO, provided $160,000 for the rehabilitation of the Coastal Cypress Pines Community just weeks prior to Council adopting the new licence conditions.
It would be quite a contradiction for Ms Upton to allow camping to continue on encroached land designated SEPP 14 Coastal Wetland with an EEC of protected Coastal Cypress pine trees.
Camping activities in the EEC area have caused significant adverse impacts on the park environment, cultural and heritage sites and public amenity.
There’s no consensus from arborists and little confidence in Reflections’ proposed environmental protections. Campers and tree preservation are simply incompatible.
The decision by Byron Council to exclude the southern area of Terrace Park comes at the end of six years of negotiation with Crown Lands, instigated by then local government minister Don Page following BSC’s adoption of new AtOs in 2012. Terrace Park 2012 AtO also excluded camping in the southern area, which we are yet to see enforced.
Since 2012, Council has made major concessions and endorsed new AtOs for Massy Greene and Ferry Reserve. In December 2017 Council gifted road reserve lands and Lot 7005, worth around $3 million, to Reflections for inclusion within their commercial operations. Council received no financial compensation for this land exchange.
It’s time for Minister Upton to step up and end two decades of Crown Lands’ pigheaded thuggery, and endorse BSC’s AtO for Terrace Park. Let’s rehabilitate our WWI memorial park and retain our public land for community use.
With state elections on 23 March, now is the time for pollies to do something for our swinging Shire.