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February 5, 2023

‘Unequivocal guarantee’ to protect State Significant Farmland at Cudgen sought

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Tweed Ratepayers’ Association president Lindy Smith and Peter Newton, president, Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association Inc are calling for ‘unequivocal guarantee’ to protect Cudgen’s State Significant Farmland. Photo Aslan Shand

You would think that the state government led process of turning the 600 hectares at the Cudgen Plateau into State Significant Farmland in 2005 would be a clear enough statement that the land is not available for future development. Apparently it isn’t, and locals are calling for the NSW Planning and Agriculture ministers to give an ‘unequivocal guarantee’ to protect it from future development threats.

This follows the most recent ‘Cudgen Connection’ proposal that was put forward next to the new Tweed Valley Hospital that is currently being built on SSF that was re-zoned for the project. However, there have been ongoing attempts by developers to have the SSF re-zoned for the establishment of a police station and in 2013 a ‘bid by former coalition state MP Don Beck to rezone some of the state’s most protected farmland at Cudgen and turn it into a 231-lot housing development’.

The fertile red soil of Cudgen. Photo supplied.

The Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association Inc (KRPA) has written to both Planning Minister Anthony Roberts and Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders seeking an ‘unequivocal guarantee’ for the protection of the SSF. 

‘As a community, we genuinely value this protected farmland for its agricultural significance and also for the significant contribution it makes to the amenity of our interconnected beach/farm environment and lifestyle,’ said Peter Newton, president of KRPA in the letter.

‘Over the years, the Kingscliff/Cudgen community has fought off a number of proposed developments on this farmland. Our community wants to reach a point now where we are not having to be continually vigilant or concerned that we are facing yet another battle to save and protect an area that is supposedly already protected from development by legislation.’

Extensive consultation

Talking to The Echo Mr Newton said that ‘the community has been extensively consulted on how the region should develop. When the hospital site was re-zoned we were clear and they were clear that there would be no further impact on SSF.’

Lindy Smith president of the Tweed Ratepayers’ Association told The Echo that the ‘Cudgen Connection’ proposal ‘was dumped on us with no consultation. I think it is encouraging that MP Geoff Provest has confirmed his position of no further re-zoning and the two ministers have come out in support of him but we are asking for guarantees.’

Mr Newton agrees saying that they are asking the ministers to look at ‘ways to strengthen the legislation, encourage agribusiness and discourage land banking at the site. This is a perfect example of land banking.’

Ms Smith said that the developer’s statement that there has been no farming at the site was wrong as she was aware of various activities at the site over the years including a nursery and lettuce farm. 

‘There are farmers who are saying “give me the land and I’ll farm it” we have world-renowned farmers here in our region,’ said Mr Newton. 

‘The community has been consulted on the long-term strategic planning of the region. This is an ad-hoc proposal,’ said Ms Smith. 

‘There has been long term, in-depth, community consultation on what the community want for the area and everything has been planned, yet the developer is here saying “this is what you want” but the community are saying “No, we’ve already said what we want”,’ said Mr Newton.

‘We have a unique connection between the coast and the plateau and we do not need to be concreting it, it needs to be protected.’

Food bowl

‘We have learnt over the last two years the importance of local food production and self-sufficiency,’ Ms Smith pointed out. 

‘It is inspirational seeing the younger generation of farmers coming through and that’s what we need to support. The Cudgen Connection proposal beggars belief, it was as though they had absolutely everything on your social issues list included in the proposal from farmers market to koala research.

‘There are a number of greenfield sites that have the correct zoning in place that would accommodate the elements of the Cudgen Proposal. What we need is a firm commitment from the ministers to put this to rest so that the community can move forward with the long-term strategic plan that has been created by the community,’ said Ms Smith.

Concluding his letter to the Planning and Agricultural ministers Mr Newton said ‘There is an ongoing belief and uncertainty in our community that, regardless of the legislation, the farmlands are simply at the mercy of the next major project to come along. Currently, we do

not feel that we have the surety of the ongoing protection of this unique and valuable environment.

‘Your unequivocal guarantee of ongoing protection and also an undertaking to strengthen the legislation will provide the certainty the community now and into the future deserves.’

The Echo has sought comment from both ministers in response to the letter and is expecting a response by Friday.

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  1. When will those who are against any form of progress in the Tweed Shire stop their negativity. The proposed Cudgen Connection is to be built on land that has not been farmed for at least 20 years.
    One wonders why this is the case, the land produces rocks, rocks and yes more rocks. Not all the farmland included in the SSF is actually viable, sustaining the SSF is the sustaining of a fued that resulted in having the original lands categorised as SSF.
    I get really cross at the lack of forsight of these knockers, Tweed Shire is gorwing, this new development will provide services sorely needed in the area.
    All I can say to those who want to keep SSF land permanently, the land is not as good as you make out, I suspect those who own the bulk of the land are just going through the motions of so called farming when they are land banking.
    Let’s give Tweed Shire a shot in the arm and get these developments that will provide employment and education long term going.

    • To farm land Marianne, one needs to plant something. Sitting on land until a monetary proposition occurs is what some landowners are doing. The land is fertile, just waiting to be productive. There is plenty of land available for development.

      • This is so true, this land is deliberately being left unused to try for short term, shortsighted profiteering via inappropriate developments that we were guaranteed wouldn’t happen.

  2. I do hope the State Government is looking at the use of the land around here and charging land tax on any land that is not being farmed. When the land banking people get their land tax notices we will see how quickly they start agricultural pursuits to avoid the tax.


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