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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Why is Tweed Council’s report on developers habitat destruction in Tweed Heads confidential?

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Development site at 60 Tringa Street, Tweed Heads.

The State and Federal governments have both said that there would be no future building on floodplains, yet they have not taken any action to delay currently approved and yet-to-be-built development on floodplains. 

The recent destruction of bushland and koala habitat along the Cobaki Creek at Tweed Heads where the Dubbo developer MAAS has moved in and started clearing the site without the correct approvals in place has highlighted the failure of the State government to reassess potential risks of these legacy, or zombie, floodplain developments. 

‘They have breached quite a number of the regulations they were to follow,’ Robert Eady, a local resident told The Echo

‘They weren’t supposed to come through our estate but they just ploughed through the bushland at the end of Tringa Street. It is a residential estate and they haven’t really stuck to the development application (DA) at all. They were supposed to build the road first and instead they just ploughed through and started clearing. 

‘They have knocked out 18 hectares of land that is all on the floodplain. I don’t know how they get away with that stuff.’ 

Residents are distressed by the clearing for the development on Triga street, on the tidal estuary of Cobaki Creek

Site 6ft under

‘We all know what happened to Lismore and Mullumbimby during the 2022 floods. When we had the flood it was 6ft underwater right across the site

‘Now they are going to fill this site, which is right beside the estuary, with three meters of fill across the site. They have to truck all that stuff in. One of the residents working on this has estimated there will be around 18,000 truckloads of fill brought in. 

‘During the February 2022 flood the water came halfway up the embankment up to our houses – if they fill that floodplain for this development the question is “where does all that water go in the future?”

‘The State and Federal governments keep saying that we shouldn’t develop on floodplains so why is this and other similar developments being allowed to go ahead?’

Residents are distressed by the clearing for the development on Triga street, on the tidal estuary of Cobaki Creek

Confidential council report

Tweed councillors have responded to residents’ concerns and a report on the developer’s actions and the requirements of the DA and the site development is being brought to council’s meeting this afternoon (6 April) at 3.30pm. However, concerns have been raised over the fact that this report has been set aside for consideration in a confidential meeting rather than being discussed in the public forum so that residents can be informed about the council’s deliberations and response. 

‘That such serious concerns raised by the community over the unlawful construction access created through their quiet residential street that has facilitated the clearing of the vast majority of the development site on the shores of the Tweed River estuary floodplain have been put into confidential compromises any confidence for proper accountability in the public interest,’ Lindy Smith, president of the Tweed District Residents and Ratepayers Association told The Echo

‘The determined pre-emptive strike [by the developers] on the subject site that had included significant environmental values protected under State and Commonwealth legislation, much of which has now been wiped out, was subject to consent conditions. But that was ruthlessly ignored.

‘There are very serious concerns with their “Approval” and “Permit” under the State government which require all other requirements of development consent and relevant provisions to be met, prior to any works commencing; these have been ignored. 

‘There is also the matter of just what information was provided in the applications to the State government department when the current legal access to the development site is Hakea Drive, not Tringa Street, which they have not yet formed 27 years after the development was approved.’

Residents are distressed by the clearing for the development on Triga street, on the tidal estuary of Cobaki Creek

Why is it confidential?

‘This report has been put into confidential in order to explore enforcement and compliance actions that are available to Council for the works that have occurred on site,’ Tweed Mayor Chris Cherry told The Echo

‘I know the community is really wanting to see what action is being recommended but we don’t want to do anything the compromises possible future legal actions. I will certainly try to ensure that the motion that is passed provides the community with as much information as possible at this stage about what Council is doing to ensure compliance on these zombie developments.’

You can attend the Tweed Shire Cpuncil meeting this afternoon at the  Harvard Room, Tweed Heads Administration Office or watch the live stream here.

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  1. The Local Government Act sets out reasons why a council meeting can be held in confidential session (Section 10(a)). These reasons revolve around: prejudicing a commercial interest; protecting security of the council or councillors; litigation afoot, or information regarding a place or item of Aboriginal significance. The list is very specific. Just because someone might be embarrassed by certain disclosures, for instance is an insufficient reason.
    The council must pass a motion pursuant to this Section nominating the reason or reasons to move into confidential session.


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