Patricia Warren, Brunswick Heads
Any remnants of the mayor’s ‘Green’ credentials and the notion of community consultation slithered away in Council’s resolution to rezone Gulgan Road North Precinct (GRN) to industrial land.
Located south of Brunswick Heads, historically the Pernell farm was cropped with lettuce, cabbage, peas and corn before dairying became more profitable. The Pernells sold it to the proponent who proposed an ‘Eco-village’. When that failed, the proponent shifted his values and went for industrial zoning.
The land did not form part of the exhibited Employment Lands Strategy wherein 10ha of industrial land was cited as needed by Council into the future. Without GRN 40ha were identified in the Strategy. By adding GRN to the Strategy another 10ha were included.
In spite of government advice that inclusion of GRN in the strategy was inconsistent with the North Coast Regional Plan 2036, that the land possibly contained remnant rainforest and had swamp sclerophyll forest, that historic records for the koala existed and that consideration of the vegetation for an E-zoning had been deferred in the 2014 LEP, none of this was considered in the mayor’s support for rezoning.
The land is registered as regionally significant farmland, a registration that should have been taken seriously in the context of food security.
Unlikely bedfellows, the Brunswick Heads Chamber of Commerce and Progress Association were united in opposing the rezoning of this land. The Community Alliance for Byron Shire (CABS), an association of Byron Shire community organisations also opposed it.
When asked by Cr Cameron, would the mayor withdraw GRN from his foreshadowed motion, the response was direct and quick, ‘No’. His response spoke volumes.
In response to a question of whether or not the mayor would support re-exhibiting the Employment Lands Strategy, as advised by government, he refused. There would be no community consultation on the inclusion of GRN as industrial land.
Cr Lyon was no better. He put the economic imperative ahead of all other considerations, arguing that it would help relieve rental stress on the demand for industrial sites in the Shire.
Any notions of a Council supporting a model for sustainable development, starting with environmental considerations, then moving to social and economic, had been completely dismissed. Developers will be salivating.