The current site selected by Tweed Shire Council staff for the relocation of the Murwillumbah State Emergency Services (SES) to Bray Park have raised concerns of some councillors due to the impact on local native vegetation including threatened species.
The report was intended to be ‘noted’ at the last Tweed Shire Council meeting but became subject to a workshop following Councillor Dr Noal Firth raising the fact that the proposed site ‘has 63 per cent local native vegetation including threatened species’.
Cr Firth pointed out that ‘Hundreds of young fine leaved tuckeroos are in one section of the site – the site contains one section where rehabilitation has been undertaken and judging by the environmental report it seems to have been very successful.’
Supported by Councillor Meredith Dennis she put the alternative motion ’that there be an urgent workshop be organised to discuss the site and the other possible relocation sites’.
Mould and termites
The reason for the relocation of the SES facilities is that the current facilities have issues with mould and termites and the SES need to be relocated within three months to a temporary site. They are currently co-located with the Murwillumbah RFS, who are remaining on that site. The 21–35 O’Connor Dr, Bray Park site is not expected to be ready before September 2023 and the SES project is expected to impact the southern two-thirds of this study area.
It quickly became apparent that council staff did not see any other options than the selected site for the SES in Murwillumbah than Bray Park. As they pointed out in their council report ‘[T]he search for an alternate site to relocate the Murwillumbah SES Unit within the Murwillumbah CBD has been lengthy and extensive’.
However, Cr Firth said that ‘There are koala feed trees and eucalypts that are a metre in diameter at breast height’ on the selected site’.
Mayor Chris Cherry came out in support of the workshop reminding councillors that ‘it is a site that is going to have to be justified to the community’.
Cr Cherry also acknowledged that it is Council’s responsibility to provide a site for the SES and that following the workshop it may be the only site that is available.
Councillors James Owen and Rhiannon Brinsmead were both against the workshop as they felt it might delay the process. However, Cr Meredith Dennis pointed out that the SES was going to a temporary site regardless and this project would not be delivered until late next year.
‘We can’t just knock down trees,’ she told the meeting. ‘There would be an outcry from the community.’
General manager of Tweed Council, Troy Green, said he was open to a workshop that ‘can have some estimate of the vegetation that would have to be removed etc’.
Land at Banora Point
The fact that Tweed Council owns land at Banora Point for a new SES facility which has no funding to be built, and that they have funding for the Murwillumbah SES facility but no land was also pointed out.
The current proposed site has ‘15 large hollow-bearing trees of which eight are greater than 10cm. It has logs, five of which have hollows,’ said Cr Firth.
‘There are at least 12 larger fine leaved tuckeroo trees that the report indicates would definitely need to be removed if a building was put on the site. Also the report noted that there may need to be further clearing than for the building itself due to bush fire risk.
‘The species listed on the environmental report include: rough shelled macadamia nut, scrub turpentine, tallow wood, brush box, pink bloodwood, foam bark, hard quandong, sandpaper fig, guioa, bleeding heart, native frangipani, red kamala, poison peach, hoop pine, broad leafed lilly pilly, blackwood, red ash, white beech, native ginger, rasp fern, red bean, native violet, wild quince, native tamarind, cheese tree, macaranga, and blueberry ash.’
The final vote went in favour of a workshop with councillors Cherry, Dennis, Firth, and Deputy Mayor Reece Byrnes in favour with councillors Owen, Brinsmead, and Warren Polglase against.