Last nights Ballina Shire council meeting approved the controversial development application (DA) for a house and access road on the ridge line at Old Byron Bay Rd, Newrybar on the casting vote of the Mayor David Wright.
Local residents strongly opposed the development in the 7(d)1 Scenic Escarpment Zone. The owners of the property had been previously prosecuted by Ballina Council for unauthorised works to create an access way to the development site.
Councillor Keith Williams, who foreshadowed refusal, argued that the development was contrary to the Zone objectives and undermined a 30 years battle to protect the Newrybar escarpment.
Mayor Wright justified his decision saying that the previous unauthorised works had been felt with in the court and he could only make his decision based on the current application and not on previous actions of the applicants.
‘There are three parts to the scenic escarpment Zoning the first is about protection but the second two are about the conditions you can set about how you do that. Basically it complied,’ he told Echonetdaily.
While many councillors and locals believe that the interpretation of the zoning should have precluded the development going ahead Mayor Wright said ‘I had a lot to do with developing the zoning that was put into the Local Environment Plan (LEP) in 1987 and I know the intent.’
One local resident contacted the Mayor following the approval saying that they would now be forced to sell their property.
‘They are rightfully upset,’ said Mayor Wright.
‘However, I have to do what is legal and people are allowed.’
Asphalt plant gets another five years
The Boral asphalt plant at the Tuckombil quarry received approval for another five years operation despite many councillors concerns with the operation and its impacts on nearby residents. Councillors were advised that the lease renewal for a further five years was entirely the option of current lessee Boral.
While the council had set aside money for monitoring of the plant previously this had not been done so they had no grounds on which to refuse the extension.
However, it was unanimously agreed by council that the lease would not be renewed at the end of this five year extension.
According to Mayor Wright the EPA will be doing testing in relation to odour from the site while the Ballina Council will now investigate issues of particulates, air pollution and noise.
Council will work with Boral to assist them to relocate their operation to an appropriate industrial site in the Shire.
Councillor Jeff Jonson put forward a motion for Ballina Shire Council to declare a climate emergency which was passed 9-1 making it the 72nd council in Australia to do so. It called on all levels of government to take urgent action..
Councillor Phil Meehan was the only vote against it the declaration. He stated that he accepted climate change but a declaration was just a Greens Party campaign. However, there are no Greens Party members on Ballina Council.
Prior t the meeting Councillor Johnson said, ‘In July this year, The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis reported that the cost of new large scale renewable projects were now 14 per cent cheaper than coal-fired power. There is a clear trend away from coal based on cost alone.’
Action for bees
Ballina council will also conduct a review of its use of pesticides implicated in mass bee deaths. The motion moved by Councillor Keith Williams recognised the importance of bee health and the pollination services they provide to agriculture in the Shire and named Fipronil, Diazinon and neonicotinoid insecticides for review.