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Byron Shire
November 30, 2022

Mullum pod village fiasco deepens

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Byron Shire Mayor councillor Michael Lyon. Photo supplied

Mayor Michael Lyon has sided with Resilience NSW over flood-affected residents by sitting on a draft flood report for the Mullum ‘pod’ village. 

Neighbouring residents have been denied procedural fairness by Resilience NSW and Council, who have acted without transparency around the development.

According to the upcoming Council agenda’s ‘Question with Notice’ by Cr Duncan Dey, he asks for the flood report to be made public and says it, ‘was due months ago, but has not been made public, despite that having been promised many times’. 

In reply, Director Sustainable Environment and Economy,

Shannon Burt. Photo www.planning.org.au

, said a draft version of the report, ‘has been shared with Council staff’, and despite Council asking for it to be made public, making it public, it ‘is a matter for Resilience NSW’. 

‘It is Council’s understanding based on conversations with Resilience NSW that the findings of the report will be released by them’, she wrote. 

The Echo asked Cr Lyon, ‘Why won’t you release the Resilience NSW report, even in draft form, to residents, to assure them their properties will not be impacted by further flooding? Doesn’t the public deserve the respect of being informed of such serious matters? Why would you back Resilience NSW over traumatised, flood-impacted residents?’

View from Station Street over the pod site to Prince Street as flood waters receded during the February 28 flood. Photo supplied

He replied, ‘I don’t have the authority to release the report, otherwise I would. There is a process underway regarding further consultation with some of the neighbouring landowners and I expect this will resolve very shortly. Please be assured that I have been pushing as hard as I can, because I agree with you, our community deserves transparency around this, but I am not going to release documents shared with me in confidence until they are cleared’.

The Echo asked to specify what authority, and the consequences, if any, if that authority was breached.

No reply was received by deadline.

Resilience NSW provided a general statement when asked why it won’t release the report, which was followed by ‘For background, not for quoting’:

The site of the temporary pod village being built in central Mullumbimby on Prince Street. The street flooded with waist high water in the recent February 2022 floods. Photo Aslan Shand

That reads, ‘Resilience NSW commissioned independent consultants to undertake flood modelling of different scenarios at the Mullumbimby temporary housing site. The site was reviewed with consideration to flood risk and flood planning, including under the North Byron Floodplain Risk Management Plan. Resilience NSW will be reaching out to local residents this week to provide a further construction update including a copy of the scenarios modelled by the independent consultants’.

The proposed pod village on rail land, Station Street, Mullumbimby.

Meanwhile, a heavily redacted freedom of information document that was requested by a resident affected by the NSW government’s roll out of pod homes has revealed that the rail land at Station Street has a ‘potential exposure risk to lead in [the] surface soil’. 

The comments by the EPA’s Robert Donohoe were to a Property NSW staff member, and he also stated that, ‘Any proposal to open up the land [to] public access for temporary flood accommodation is likely to increase the potential for lead exposure’.

As of June 9, Donohoe said the EPA was waiting on soil sampling by Transport for NSW. The Echo asked the EPA if this sampling had been completed yet, ‘and if so, can you please supply this document so the community can rest assured this poses no health risks?’ 

A reply is expected next week.


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6 COMMENTS

  1. Could Hans Lovejoy please explain how he concluded: ‘ Mayor Michael Lyon has sided with Resilience NSW over flood-affected residents by sitting on a draft flood report for the Mullum ‘pod’ village.’ ?

    A paragraph further down says:

    [Cr Lyon] replied, ‘I don’t have the authority to release the report, otherwise I would. There is a process underway regarding further consultation with some of the neighbouring landowners and I expect this will resolve very shortly. Please be assured that I have been pushing as hard as I can, because I agree with you, our community deserves transparency around this, but I am not going to release documents shared with me in confidence until they are cleared’.

    • Hi Greg, If Michael Lyon really believed in transparency, he would release the doc.
      When asked what authority is preventing him from releasing the docs, he didn’t reply. He doesn’t have to do what he is told, all the time.
      Supporting residents over Resilience NSW would seem reasonable in this case, because Resilience NSW has such a bad track record with this community. Resilience NSW are delaying in releasing the flood report for their own purposes. And Michael supports that.
      Resilience NSW has been roundly criticised by the flood inquiry because it is a bloated ineffectual bureaucracy.
      Hans

      • When asked what authority is preventing him from releasing the docs, he didn’t reply.

        Really?

        “I am not going to release documents shared with me in confidence until they are cleared.”

        It is a Resilience NSW report

  2. As to the lead in the soil question…

    Isn’t there like, 1.5m of imported fill over the entire site?

    Excuse my ignorance and I’m happy to be corrected if wrong, but surely the 1.5m of fill is not contaminated by lead? And temporary residents even if building a veggie patch would not be digging down more than 300mm?

    I don’t understand why this is a problem. Unless the lead will leach up thru the soil?? In that case then I stand corrected.

  3. What part of “I don’t have the authority to release the report, otherwise I would.” does Cr Dey and The Echo have trouble understanding , exactly?

    The bashing of the Council , in general and Mayor Micheal Lyon , in particular , by The Echo is getting both tedious and childish .

    Poor grandstanding by The Echo just to push the Greens agenda ?

  4. The issue with them having trouble understanding is that ALL government provided documents are available for public disclosure under a Freedom of Information GIPA Application request, though private or commercial in confidence sections can be redacted. The Mayor is supposed to represent the Shire residents, not bow to State gov secrecy demands that have no lawful basis. Resilience NSW has no legal authority to restrict this document from the public, they just dont want it released, and the fact that they dont gives even more reason that it should be, and it should be released without the financial cost and the extended timeframe for a GIPA Application. Resilience NSW has no legal power to restrict
    public disclosure, and the Mayor should either be guided by Councils declared ” Open and transparent community led governance” or change that allegedly guiding commitment to ‘secret community sidelined governance’. Resilience NSW didnt vote him in.

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