Calls to immediately act after a large amount of fill was dumped on the Middle Pocket section of Marshalls Creek fell on deaf councillor ears at last week’s meeting.
The environmental impacts of dumping soil fill in, or on, creeks and waterways can include in a loss of fish habitat, sedimentation, erosion, and can attract large fines.
Cr Duncan Dey told The Echo that the fill was being ‘stockpiled’ for use by Byron Council, on private land at 295 Pocket Road, The Pocket.
Cr Dey’s urgency motion seeking rapid removal of the fill was voted against by Mayor Michael Lyon, Crs Mark Swivel, Peter Westheimer and Alan Hunter.
Those in favour were Crs Dey, and Asren Pugh.
Crs Sarah Ndiaye and Sama Balson were absent, while Cr Cate Coorey has taken leave until 2023.
Cr Dey said, ‘The matter was already under an “Order to Restore” by staff, which sees the landowner escaping a fine and having four months to remove the fill’.
He says the issue was first raised by concerned residents on October 20 and 21, ‘but there was no action’ by Council staff.
After asking Council staff about the issue on October 31, Cr Dey says they then inspected the site, issued stop work and restoration orders, giving the landowner until April 7, 2023 to remove the fill from the floodplain.
Cr Dey said, ‘I was elated that staff acted swiftly on this environmental vandalism, but then saw the end date in April’.
Staff order delayed removal, no fine
He had also asked whether the machinery stationed on the fill was involved in any Council projects.
‘I was shocked to learn that the fill itself was involved’. He said, ‘This alone is reason to rush the removal of the fill, before the wet season when floods would be likely to wash it into Marshalls Creek’.
Echo questions were put to Council staff to confirm Cr Dey’s comments.
A reply is expected next week, and will be published when received.
The questions are: ‘Why are staff allowing the landowner over four months to remove this soil (given the landowner has the equipment for removal)?’
‘Aren’t staff concerned that this poses an immediate pollution risk to the creek?
‘Are there any reports that underpin the decision to allow such a delayed removal?’; and,
‘The Echo understands no fine was issued – if so, why was that?’