The fight to develop or not to develop the North Lismore Plateau goes back to the Land and Environment Court (L&EC) on February 10. The North Lismore Protection Association (NLPA) are asking the community to come together to raise money to support their court case that is challenging the contentious development at a concert on February 1 at the Lismore Bowlo.
Legal action was started by Aboriginal Elder Mickey Ryan, who is chairman of the Bundjalung Elders Council and the North Lismore Plateau Protection Association, against the Winton Property Group who are developing the site in January 2019.
The development approval (DA) for ‘433 lots [stage one], of the possible 1,300 lots, for the North Lismore Plateau [was approved] by the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP)’ on October 17, 2018.
The North Lismore Plateau is ‘such a significant part of our Aboriginal history, says Uncle Mickey Ryan.
‘If they take away our history then we have no future.’
Local elders have said that on the plateau there are burials, women’s birthing sites, scarred trees, artefacts, sacred water holes and spiritual dreaming sites.
The current case is seeking to have the development approval revoked by the L&EC based on the fact that no species impact statement (SIS) was provided with the DA. The NLPA say they are providing evidence that there are 14 to 15 threatened species that have been identified on the footprint of the site including seven threatened bat species of 18 observed. The NLPA claim that if the development proceeds the eastern long-eared bat and the white eared monarch bird are likely to become extinct locally.
‘The developer should have conducted a SIS when they originally applied for the development application and they didn’t. We will be arguing that as there are several threatened species at this site that will face extinction if the development goes ahead. Due to the failure to provide an SIS, as was required, then the DA should be thrown out,’ said Al Oshlack, researcher and advocate for the Justice Advocacy Network, representing Mr Ryan.
‘Even the developers own experts have confirmed the existence of these bats. They have said that they have identified at least three females and one male that are in small areas of rainforest on the site. This shows that it is a possible breeding site.’
Due to the alleged clearing of areas of approximately 4ha of emerging rainforest six weeks ago by the developer Mr Ryan sought an injunction against the developer in early December.
‘The developers have given an undertaking to the court that they will clear no more vegetation at the site. This is the third time we have had to seek an injunction,’ Mr Oshlack told Echonetdaily.
‘There are a number of other issues that we will be highlighting during the case including that we believe the developer dug up and destroyed an inferred grave on the North Lismore Plateau without authority or approval.
‘We are also challenging the construction certificate. The developer is stating that it allows them to dig up 108,000 cubic metres of fill from an excavation pit on the North Lismore Plateau and they are using that to fill the floodplain for stage one of the development. We believe that there is no assessment of the impact this will have on North Lismore’s flooding. The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) have written to Lismore Council with their concerns on this several time stating that this development will be isolated and will have no escape when it is flooding.
‘The developer is also stating that the construction certificate gives them permission to create a haul road for the movement of the excavation material.
‘We are saying that there was no approval in the DA for the excavation, road, filling or clearing that they are currently undertaking. We are seeking that the court order them to remediate all the work they have undertaken so far.’
To continue with the court case the NLPA are holding a community variety concert to help raise the funds they need. The Songs for the Sleeping Lizard event is being held on Saturday, February 1 at the Lismore City Bowlo with a sausage sizzle at 6pm and the concerns starting at 7pm. Blakboi, Isabella A Cappella and Nimbin Poetry Cup finalist Anna Avocado, are just some of the local talent supporting the show. Concert Tickets $10 at the door. A light supper is also available for purchase.
♦ A spokesperson for the Winton Property Group said, ‘We will reserve comments for after the court case’.