A group that advocates moving the new Tweed Hospital from its planned site at Kingscliff says Tweed residents have been ‘misled’ by advertising and email correspondence from NSW Health Infrastructure.
The department recently circulated an email newsletter, titled Valley Pulse, to residents.
One of the articles encouraged readers to send submissions regarding the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Kingscliff hospital site, currently on exhibition, including a link to the relevant website.
SEPP not mentioned
But, the article fails to mention that there is a parallel application on exhibition for a proposed State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) to make the hospital’s DA and EIS legal.
Under the current SEPP, the hospital site is considered State Significant Farmland, meaning the DA would have to be refused by planning authorities unless the SEPP is changed.
But no mention of this is made in the department’s story and no link for comment is provided.
Leader of Team Relocate, Hayley Paddon said reading the Valley Pulse ‘only confirmed my suspicions’.
She said the section titled Have your say on the Environmental Impact Statement ‘only tells half the story and seems either deliberately or incompetently misleading’.
‘The public are invited to have their say on the EIS and directed to the Planning Department’s website, but there is no mention of an invitation to respond to the proposed SEPP, which is all about the controversial site choice, and has the same closing date of December 13.
‘Really this is a very disappointing performance from a government department. It is not good enough. They’ve already made it a complex process and the public need all the support they can get.’
Fellow campaigner Barbara Roughan said in a letter to Echonetdaily that ‘the newspaper advertising these forms had the wrong address for the SEPP form, but the correct address for the EIS’.
‘One has to wonder if two government departments have made genuine mistakes in informing the public of vital information, or if this is just another case of the lack of transparency which has dogged the whole site selection process,’ Ms Roughan said.
The group says ‘the public can get much clearer guidance on making a submission by going to the Relocate website’.
Health Infrastructure responds
A spokesperson for Health Infrastructure told Echonetdaily, ‘the Department of Planning and Environment (DoPE) has extended the exhibition period of both the proposed State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Stage 1 SSD application for the Tweed Valley Hospital, until 13 December 2018’.
‘Updated advertisements were run by DoPE in the Tweed Daily News on Wednesday November 21 with the correct link for the proposed site-specific SEPP and the revised exhibition period for both the SEPP and the SSD.
‘Health Infrastructure has lodged a Stage 1 State Significant Development (SSD) application with DoPE for the concept proposal and early and enabling works for the proposed new Tweed Valley Hospital. The application process includes public exhibition of the EIS, which commenced on 1 November 2018 and invites feedback from the community.
‘DoPE is currently assessing the SSD application and has prepared and is exhibiting an Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) for the proposed SEPP.
‘A factsheet was made available on the project website in October explaining the planning approval process, inclusive of the two stage SSD application and site-specific SEPP. Two further factsheets on the EIS and its exhibition were published on October 23 and 31 respectively and followed up with an article in the project’s community newsletter, Valley Pulse,’ the spokesperson said.
Council rescission motion
Meanwhile, Tweed Shire Council is set to hold an extraordinary meeting on Friday to consider a rescission motion on a resolution that confirmed Council’s opposition to the site of the hospital.
Councillors Warren Polglase, Pryce Allsop and James Owen lodged the notice of rescission.
If the resolution is rescinded, Cr Polglase will then put forward a motion to take no further action on this issue at this time.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the Meeting at the Council Chambers in Murwillumbah from 11.30am.
Council advises the public may be required to vacate the chamber if the matter goes into confidential session.
To read the Council resolution opposing the Tweed Valley Hospital site, see the Extraordinary Council meeting agenda.