The decision on the controversial Iron Gates development for 175 residential building blocks on the Evans River near Evans Head is being made by the Northern Regional Planning Panel (NRPP). Opportunity to comment on the draft masterplan closes tomorrow Friday, December 6, 2019.
Locals are calling for the development application (DA) to be rejected on a range of grounds including fire risk, what they believe to be a misleading draft masterplan for the site and the fact that remediation activities required by the Land and Environment Court decision in 1997 were never carried out.
‘The current bushfire crisis gripping NSW brings into sharp focus the controversial Iron Gates development at Evans Head. The satellite development for 175 residential building blocks is right in the middle of the highest category for bushfire risk, Category 1 vegetation, which requires a 100 metre buffer zone,’ said Dr Richard Gates from the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee.
‘I am gobsmacked that the proposed development was even being considered. The fire risk is not only to those who might chose to live there but to the people of the village of Evans Head who could easily be sacrificed should a fire occur at the Iron Gates. Fire-fighting resources are invariably limited when conditions become extreme and there may not be sufficient to go around. In those circumstances someone is likely to lose out and it could be the Iron Gates or the Village, or, potentially both who are the losers.’
Dr Gates points to a disclaimer in the Bushfire Assessment – Additional Information Response prepared in March 2017 that states, ‘Despite best efforts, there is no guarantee that desirable outcomes are achievable during extreme bushfire weather episodes, which may occasion unpredictable bushfire behaviour and have detrimental consequences to life, property and the environment.’
Previous DA consent removed
In 1997 local activist Al Oschlack took the previous development company Iron Gates Property, of which Graeme Ingles was Director and Secretary, to court over the unapproved clearing that had taken place on the site prior to development approval being granted. The Land and Environment Court ordered that a remediation plan be undertaken and removed permission to develop the site under the previously granted DA.
The remediation work was never carried out as the company went into liquidation. The current DA is being put forward by a Queensland based company called Goldcoral, however, the application is signed off by Graeme Ingles.
There have been several hundred objections to the development by locals with many pointing out that there appears to be misleading documentation being provided by Goldcoral in relation to the Subdivision Plans Air Photo Overlay.
‘The Master planning documents appear to use imagery from around 2013,’ says Evans Head Residents for Sustainable Development Inc. (EHRSDI) president Ian Drinkwater.
According to Mr Drinkwater the most recent satellite imagery released from the NSW Department of Environment ‘shows extensive clearing at the western edge of the developer’s property’.
‘The maps submitted in support of the development proposal do not show this clearing. This obscures the current situation from the public considering the impact of this proposed development. There are many faults in the Draft Master Plan documentation. Master Plans are meant to accurately inform the decision making process. In our view these plans do not do that,’ Mr Drinkwater said.
‘The Draft Master Plan should be rejected and the applicant required to submit an accurate set of documents. Moving forward with this document will only result in unsatisfactory decisions that will be open to long and expensive challenges. The community should not forget how costly previous proposals have been to Council and ratepayers with documented evidence to 2009 showing legal expenses alone of nearly a million dollars.’