23.9 C
Byron Shire
April 15, 2024

Controversial Iron Gates development open for comment on 24 September

Latest News

Highway crash heading north from Byron

A crash on the Pacific Motorway heading north from the Byron Shire on Monday morning reduced traffic to a single lane around 11am.

Other News

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Why The Nude Beach is a Wicked Problem

How do you keep a nude beach safe from sex pests, accepting nudity is not the cause, but that a remote location can encourage predatory opportunism? For me, Tyagarah nude beach is a wicked problem. And I don’t mean morally. I mean culturally.

The Harvest Food Trail Returns for its 8th Year!

Northern Rivers Food’s iconic Harvest Food Trail returns for its eighth year. This delicious self-drive adventure through the heart of the Northern Rivers is happening over four days.

Revolution– a night of protest songs

Award-winning Australian bluesman Frank Sultana has been releasing original music since 2011. In January 2023, in Memphis Tennessee, Sultana competed in and won the prestigious International Blues Challenge, becoming only the third person outside of North America to do so in the event’s 39-year history.

Surya McEwen joins Freedom Flotilla Coalition

Surya McEwen has volunteered on Freedom Flotilla Coalition’s voyage to take 5,500 tonnes of food and medicine to the Palestinian people, in one of the most dangerous war-torn parts of the planet.

Has the state government responded effectively to the 2022 flood and other disasters? 

The NSW Reconstruction Authority (NSW RA) is under examination to look at how it has managed the response to the 2022 floods and other disasters.

Understory: a theatre show connecting kids to nature

Understory is a magical, interactive theatre adventure created for children by Roundabout Theatre, springing to life in the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens this April school holidays.

The sensitive site of the controversial planned Iron Gates development, which the state government has refused to consider without a masterplan. Photo Supplied

It’s been going on for around 25 years, the developer Graeme Ingles, most recently of Queensland based GoldCoral Pty Ltd, has been pushing to develop the Iron Gates site near Evans Head since the 1990s while the community has pushed back. Now the community has 30 days to comment on the latest amended DA for the site before it goes before the Northern Rivers Planning Panel (NRPP) once again.

This follows a recent decision by the NRPP to allow an amended plan for the development under Clause 55 of the Environment Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

An approved development application (DA) was challenged and removed by the Land and Environment Court (L&EC) in 1997 after the developer took did unauthorised works at the site. The L&EC ordered around $2m of remediation for the site that has never been completed. This has been followed by repeat applications for a DA at the site with the current one being put in in 2014 for a 175 lot subdivision.

The decision to allow the amendment to the DA ‘came as a surprise to many because of the strength of the NO recommendation,’ said the president of the Evans Head Residents for Sustainable Development Dr Richard Gates.

The decision appears to have been influenced by the letter from the developers solicitor, Mills Oakley’s Aaron Gadiel which said that ‘…the applicant has determined that it will commence a Land and Environment Court appeal’ and that ‘The applicant proposes to use this process to progress the development application through to determination. The applicant’s hope is that this matter will be able to be resolved by a “section 34” agreement in the early stages of the proceedings’. Section 34 agreements are made through a Land & Environment Court Commissioner rather than through a full Court hearing.

The amended plan has gone back to Richmond Valley Council (RVC) for assessment and will go on exhibition on 24 September till 24 October.

‘That is just 30 days in which to digest the current material and prepare a response,’ Dr Gates told The Echo.

‘Because the amended plan is an amended plan it should share many similarities with the original plan, or at least you might think so. However, it remains to be seen how similar the new material is to the old.’

Dr Gates said he had received advice that ‘the amended plan should not have been accepted under Clause 55 because there are major changes to the plan. An example is the development being separated into two components, an initial plan requiring a DA and a second component requiring a separate DA approval, a ‘concept development’, at a later date. This is not a minor change to details which would fall under the rubric of an amendment but a major change with the requirement for a Master Plan apparently ‘disappearing’. I remain to be convinced that it is a not a new proposal.’

Evans River is currently in ‘poor’ health and locals are concerned that the proposed Iron Gates development will push the river into further decline. Image supplied.

Are taxpayers footing the bill?

The extent of the advice provided by the State government on the development considering the detailed advice provided by the State Government Architect (GA) in October 2020.

‘In a six page letter to the developer the GA states that “presentation to the Panel lacked detail on a range of matters” and “on the basis of the information provided” “a number of significant issues remain unresolved.” The letter then provided extensive advice about what needed to be done at this “sensitive coastal site of regional significance”,’ explained Dr Gates.

Dr Gates said he ‘wondered how many other developers received extensive advice of this kind and what precedent it would set for the future. But more than that who was paying for the advice? Was this coming out of the taxpayer and ratepayer pockets yet again.

‘This developer has racked up a substantial bill for us all given that this matter has been in effect running for almost a quarter of a century. It would be interesting to total up the real cost of this project to the public. We know that in legal costs alone the bill has gone past the million dollar mark. That is coming out of our pockets.

Dr Gates said he also had a problem with the fact that because the government was providing extensive advice for the development that it would be much more difficult to knock the development back.

‘The government is hardly likely to refuse an application where it has been providing advice even if the developer only goes part way to meeting the requirements of that advice,’ he told The Echo.

‘Yes, the NRPP is an independent panel and it has demonstrated that it doesn’t take the advice of the Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment in its recent decision to allow an amendment to the plan but ‘sunk costs’ can play a role in decision-making of which the decision-makers may not be fully aware. And other decision-making biases may creep into preparation of reports. There is extensive literature on decision-making in uncertain circumstances and certainly, the current proposal is not exempt from those psychological processes in decision-making. The current proposal is not just about black letter law but involves some degree of interpretation and dependence on others for advice.’

The back entrance to Iron Gates property from the Blue Pool Road at Evans Head. Photo Dr Richard Gates

Fire danger

Highlighting the fact that around half of the RVC LGA had been badly affected in the recent Black Summer fire Dr Gates said ‘Putting people in a harm’s way in a satellite development would seem to be a very unwise decision.’


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Mass tree-planting planned for Bruns River in Mullum

More than five thousand native plants are to be planted along Brunswick River banks in Mullumbimby.

Who is our next GG?

Sam Mostyn has been announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as Australia's next governor-general. So what sort of woman is she, and why has her appointment sent the right wing media into a tizz?

Byron swimmer airlifted to hospital

A man swimming in Byron Bay on the weekend was airlifted to the Gold Coast University Hospital, rescuers said. 

Woodburn: ute hits, kills pedestrian

A 30-year-old woman walking in Woodburn died on Sunday morning when a teenager driving a ute crashed into her, police said.