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Byron Shire
April 15, 2024

Inclusion of Iron Gates development in 2041 regional plan questioned

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Richmond Valley Plan for Evans Head from Figure- 24 Draft North Coast Plan 2041.

Iron Gates, a controversial development application (DA) for a satellite residential development at Evans Head is due to be decided next Tuesday, yet the development of the flood and fire prone area has been included in the Draft North Coast Plan for 2041

Dr Gates from Evans Head Residents for Sustainable Development (EHRSD) is asking why the site for 147 lots being: 135 residential lots, 4 public reserve lots, 1 sewer pump station lot, 1 drainage reserve lot, 3 super lots, 1 residue lot, and 2 rainforest lots, has been included when it is clearly in opposition to the Plans stated objectives. 

Evans River at Iron Gates. Photo supplied

‘While the Draft Plan makes it clear that “the need to protect the region’s natural environment may include the recognition that some locations, particularly within the sensitive coastal strip (particularly to the east of the new Pacific Highway) are no longer suitable for significant greenfield housing or employment land release”, the plan includes the sensitive and controversial coastal Iron Gates satellite residential development at Evans Head, currently the subject of a Development Application Determination by the Northern Regional Planning Panel scheduled for next Tuesday 30 August 2022,’ said Dr Gates. 

‘I am surprised to see the Iron Gates site included in the forward Strategic Plan for 2041 given the fact that the controversial satellite site is in high bushfire risk country and part of the site is on, and adjacent to wetlands and floodplains and surrounded by Crown Land subject to Native Title Determination in 2021.’

Workshop at Evans Head prepares flags for ‘NO’ sign at Iron Gates. Photo supplied

Last day to comment 

Today, Wednesday 24 August is the last day the community can comment on the NSW Government’s Draft North Coast Regional Plan 2041. The 144 page Draft Plan makes it very clear that growth on the north coast, particularly in border areas, will bring with it ‘…risks of losing the Northern Rivers character that so many find appealing’ and claims that ‘one of the most important challenges in addressing future growth on the North Coast is the need to maintain an appropriate balance between rural land, environmental protection, and urban development.’

Iron Gates Road in flood March 2022. Photo supplied

‘The “Local Government Narrative” for Richmond Valley Council (RVC) in the Draft Plan 2041 states that Council “supports environmentally sustainable development that is responsive to climate change and natural hazards, in particular bushfire and flood risk” and wants to “Retain and protect local biodiversity through effective management of environmental assets and ecological communities”,’ points out Dr Gates.

‘It is time to reconcile the disparity between the rhetoric of the Draft Plan and the reality, which is that the Iron Gates ticks all the boxes for coastal land which shouldn’t be developed and so therefore the land should be rezoned to a more appropriate environmental rezoning with the land to be resumed by the State government with adequate compensation for the owner less the cost of repair for the damage done to the site according to the outstanding Orders of the Land & Environment Court from 1997’.  

Blue Pool Road clearing, June 2014. Photo supplied

Court orders outstanding

The court order for remediation of the Iron Gates site was put in place after the developer illegally cleared parts of the site and also saw the development application (DA) for residential development removed. The courts have recently confirmed to RVC that the orders remain in place.

Iron Gates wetlands January 2005. Image supplied

No development on floodplains

Dr Gates said ‘the NSW Premier made it clear at time of the release of the Inquiry into the recent flood that building on floodplains must stop. The Inquiry itself in Volume 2 was abundantly clear that the “Planning system should play a significant role in avoiding placing people and property in harm’s way” (page 280).’

Iron Gates site. Photo supplied

Refusal recommended

The current Determination Hearing by the NRPP for the Iron Gates DA is based on two independent assessments of the residential development proposal, one commissioned by RVC and the other by the NRPP through the NSW Department of Planning. Both strongly recommend refusal of the DA in keeping with the overwhelming majority of submissions from the public against it.  

‘NO’ sign on sand bank opposite Iron Gates site for residential development. Photo supplied

Opponents against the Iron Gates development yesterday expressed their continuing opposition by placing 656 themed NO flags on a sand bank in the Evans River immediately opposite the site. The sand bank has emerged following the floods and reflects a real change in the dynamics of the Evans River which was badly affected by the flood along with the Iron Gates site itself and the road access to the site from the village of Evans Head more than a kilometre away.  

The flags were prepared at two community workshops held at Evans Head over the past two weekends.  

Those wishing to speak at or attend the NRPP hearing on 30 August at the RSL Club at Evans Head need to contact the Planning Panel Secretariat by Thursday afternoon to reserve a place. Individuals may be allotted three minutes and groups ten minute to speak for or against the proposal.

Those who wish to attend but not speak are also required to register by 4pm Thursday, 25 August on (02) 8217 2060 or email [email protected].

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  1. Thanks Echo fror the nudge. i quickly made this submission: My submission is brief due to having too many other commitments involving direct support of existing community impacted by feb flooding disaster. I wish to object to the entire plan, based on its inadequate recognition of the DIRE situation we face thanks to extremifying climate caused by human activity that is completely out of harmony with natural systems. Until we address this disharmony and re-orient our ways entirely, making reparation and restoration our absolute priority, then we are just shifting the deckchairs on the Titanic. The entire plan is predicated on out-dated ways of thinking that are actually killing us and the planet. If i was in charge, I would ask local expert ecologists and Indigenous Traditional Custodians to re-write the foundation of the document, and then make plans based on the limitations they outline. This is the only practical way forward I can see. PS. Take Iron Gates at Evans Head out of the Plan. It needs to be remediated immediately.

  2. I guess someone’s thought of renaming it Hell’s Gate? It must be hard for Dr Gates be against it but good on him for trying..Ariel Johnson


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