23.8 C
Byron Shire
March 3, 2024

Ballina adopts Biodiversity Strategy, but…

Latest News

On Wallum

We seem to rely way too much on Byron Council and councillors to have the knowledge or expertise in...

Other News

More than 80 new Tweed Hospital jobs

The Northern NSW Local Health District is advertising more than 80 full time equivalent roles at the new Tweed Valley Hospital, due to open in mid-May. 

Bill Stewart – a man who loved his frangipanis

Bill was born and raised in Mullumbimby, he attended both primary and high school here. He wasn't an academic but loved sports.

Investment fraud charges – Gold Coast

Detectives from the Financial and Cyber Crime Group have arrested and charged five people in relation to an alleged ‘boiler room’ investment fraud operating on the Gold Coast.

Doing it for Dunkley

The eyes of Australia turn this week to the electorate of Dunkley in Victoria, historically the site of the Frankston riot and just down the road from where Harold Holt disappeared. Now it's the location of an all important federal by-election.

The Art of Woman highlights the upcoming Lismore Women’s Festival 

Friday evening saw a bountiful display of art at Lismore’s Serpentine Gallery celebrating the feminine and preluding the 2024 Lismore Women’s Festival. 

Woman missing from Evans Head

Police are asking the public for help finding a woman reported missing from the Evans Head area but also known to frequent the Ballina area.

Ballina biodiversity pushed to the edge? Photo David Lowe.

At its last meeting, Ballina Shire Council adopted the Biodiversity Strategy which has been on exhibition recently, but there were questions about whether it was a purely aspirational document, or would mean anything on the ground without adequate funding.

Cr Rod Bruem described the diversity plan as a wonderful document. ‘It’s scary in terms of the number of endangered species we have in our shire that we need to protect, and I hope that this policy will go a long way towards addressing it,’ he said.

Cr Rod Bruem. Photo David Lowe.

Cr Bruem said he hoped that, ‘over time, we will be able to make the savings that we need to make within council so that it can be properly implemented.’

Cr Phil Meehan was concerned about funding of the strategy, having identified some fine print in the document which he felt left the door open to a future special rate variation to support biodiversity, but said he had since had his concerns allayed by staff.

General Manager Paul Hickey reiterated that the idea was to fund the strategy ‘over time’, from existing resources, and hopefully also new government grants.

Cr Kiri Dicker responded by saying she would vote against the adoption of the strategy in this form. ‘I think what I can see happening here is that this council is passing a biodiversity strategy that is underfunded – and will unlikely achieve much of what’s contained within it – and then simultaneously, systematically eroding the real legal protections that allow us to actually protect biodiversity,’ she said.

‘It’s particularly dangerous because it gives the impression to the community that we care about biodiversity, and I’m not that convinced that we actually do.’

Ballina Cr Kiri Dicker. Photo David Lowe.

Facade?

Cr Dicker said that together with the failure of Ballina Council to accept Conservation Zones, ‘There’s a risk that this strategy is a facade and that it makes it look like we’re doing something when we’re not.’

Arguing that the strategy was seriously under-resourced, Cr Dicker said, ‘I suspect it’s mostly just going to be unimplemented, and something that we trot out at various things because it looks pretty and it’s got great artwork… but that’s not going to do much for all the threatened species and the low percentage of vegetation cover in the shire.’

Mayor Cadwallader then gave her usual speech regarding budget items she doesn’t regard as a priority, saying ‘we’ve got to live within our means, councillors.’ She said Ballina Council had a ‘good track record of biodiversity protection.’

Cr Simon Chate said he would be supporting the strategy, with caveats, noting that Ballina Shire had the lowest coverage of native vegetation of any LGA on the NSW North Coast.

Ballina Cr Simon Chate. Photo David Lowe.

‘Ballina is being asked to put in place a biodiversity strategy that will formally prioritise preservation and protection of our environment; our threatened wildlife and its habitat,’ he said.

‘We’re being asked to make this a focal point for our council, in alignment with our community’s clearly stated desire to continue living in this beautiful environment.’

Cr Chate went on to say, ‘The biodiversity strategy is not about rezoning private land… it seeks to promote understanding of our shire’s biodiversity values and clarify actions that contribute to conserving and enhancing our biodiversity for future generations.’

After talking about the local endangered species in need of additional protection, Cr Chate said, ‘I would like to have seen this with more teeth.’

He noted that other jurisdictions, such as Sunshine Coast Council, had spent significantly more on similar strategies, via a modest environmental levy, but said he would rather see any plan than none at all.

Ballina Cr. Jeff Johnson. Photo David Lowe.

Money

Cr Jeff Johnson said it wasn’t correct to say that Ballina Council couldn’t afford to fund the strategy properly, noting that reserves had doubled to $100 million since the time that he had become a councillor, with recent interest rate rises pouring more money into council coffers.

GM Paul Hickey said all of this money had already been allocated.

Cr Johnson then moved an amendment to secure extra funding for the Biodiversity Strategy immediately, to which Mayor Cadwallader responded with laughter.

Cr Kiri Dicker thanked Cr Johnson for the idea, saying, ‘I’m just so angry and fed up that I couldn’t even think of a proper amendment. So I think that this is getting us a little bit closer.’

In terms of money, she said, ‘We do all sorts of things that rarely raise an eyebrow. But when it comes to biodiversity, we’re just not interested. I can’t stress enough what an existential threat biodiversity loss is. What are we here for if we’re not going to take urgent action? It’s worth every cent.’

After some debate, Cr Johnson’s amendment was defeated, but it was mentioned that there would be a quarterly update built into the biodiversity strategy, to track its progress, or otherwise.

Missingham Bridge
Bridge to a better future for Ballina’s environment? Photo David Lowe.

Cr Chate still hoping for SRV

Cr Simon Chate said, ‘Ideally, I’d like to see a 1 per cent special rate variation. I’m not going to do anything about that today.

‘But at the cost of $11 a year to the average resident, it’s $2.75 per quarter. And as we know, 75 per cent of the people who responded to the biodiversity exhibition also said that they’d be happy to contribute financially.’

GM Hickey clarified that the intention of staff was that $2 million would be allocated to the Biodiversity Strategy over a ten year period, if the money could be found.

The Ballina Shire Biodiversity Strategy was ultimately adopted by all councillors apart from Cr Dicker, making it official policy.

More stories about Ballina Shire Council:

More recycled material for Lennox road improvements

Lennox Head's latest road resurfacing projects are benefiting from leading edge recycling technology, converting waste to useful new life

4

GemLife’s seniors’ housing estate (again) and more Ballina Council 2024 court...

A conciliation conference between the Ballina Shire Council and developers wanting to build a seniors’ resort-style estate in West Ballina is to happen in less than three weeks.

2

The Kollective to take on Ballina Shire housing project

Ballina Shire councillors are to debate the future of public lands zoned for residential development in Wollongbar this week, including the potential of selling some or all the assets.

0

New $19 million Lennox hotel plans on show

The once sleepy seaside town of Lennox Head, like so many others, continues to undergo a rapid facelift with plans for a new three-storey hotel the latest on show.

2

King tides and flood warning in Ballina this weekend

King tides expected in Ballina over the weekend may lead to minor flooding over some local roads, the Ballina Shire Council was warning Thursday.

1


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

1 COMMENT

  1. Not many residents of Ballina Shire necessarily agree that Ballina Council has a good record of biodiversity protection. They have a very small number of amazing staff who do what they can but their total capacity is well below what is needed to protect and repair our natural assets from the twin pressures of tourism and population growth. Our Council promotes our natural assets to attract tourism and commercial operations but overall invests very little in maintaining or enhancing them. Unfortunately this current Council term is characterised by an increase in decisions that put pressure on these assets and a decrease in decisions that protect or enhance them.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Byron influencers

I'd love to know the fashion swimwear evolution for the Bundjalung people swimming at Tyagarah, 60,000, 50,000, 40,000, 30,000, 20,000, 10,000 and 250 years...

How would you stop koalas going extinct in the wild?

The strategy for koala conservation is currently under review and the community is being asked for feedback on the best ways to help NSW’s endangered koalas.

First Australian made and owned rocket test flight coming…

Gilmour Space Technologies is looking to put Australia on the map when it comes to space flight with the first test flight of an Australian-made and owned rocket coming in a few months.

Mandy gets back to a little virgin sacrifice

The virgin sacrifice is bak with Mandy Nolan bringing the Northern Rivers a new batch of comedy virgins coming to the stage.