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Byron Shire
July 16, 2024

Stop-work injunction at Wallum Estate in Brunswick Heads

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A Federal Court injunction was issued last night to stop any further work by developer Clarence Property or its contractors at the Brunswick Heads, Walllum Estate site. 

‘The application for an emergency Interlocutory injunction was lodged yesterday, in the Federal Court of Australia by Barrister Jonathan Korman on behalf of Save Wallum. The matter was heard by Justice Raper, in Sydney and granted, after 24-hours notice was officially given from Clarence Property on the eve of Wednesday 3rd July, that they intended to start work on the controversial site the next day,’ said the Save Wallum group in a press release. 

The interim injunction means until a further hearing and determination, Clarence Property must not carry out, or authorise the carrying out, of Development Works on the land at 15 Torakina Road Brunswick Heads, with the exception of the installation, on foot, of nest boxes in accordance with the Hollow and Nest Box Management Plan. The injunction will prevent work from occurring over the weekend, through to 9 July, when the matter will return to court for further argument. 

Sightings of the rare Wallum Sedge Frog were recorded in the area directly adjacent the proposed excavation works. Photo supplied

‘This is such a huge relief,’ said spokesperson Svea Pitman.

‘It has been an incredibly long journey and huge amount of volunteer work to get to court, and we are ecstatic that Justice Raper issued this interlocutory injunction last night, ensuring this rare coastal wetland and old growth trees are protected while the case is run now in the Federal court.’

Save Wallum Inc. commenced proceedings to stop work that is proposed to destroy areas of habitat for federally listed threatened species the Wallum Sedge Frog and the critically endangered Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail. 

The endangered Mitchell’s rainforest snail.

Greens MP and spokesperson for planning and the environment Sue Higginson said, ‘The community that have formed Save Wallum have been taking every road available to them to try and protect this precious coastal heath environment. This injunction is a sign that there is a legal question to be answered about the lawfulness of the Wallum development.

‘So far, both the state and federal government’s have refused to use their lawful power to intervene in the proposed destruction of nationally and state-listed threatened species and their habitat at this site in Brunswick Heads. It is down to the tenacity and determination of the community that the legality of this development is being challenged.’

The local community group ‘Save Wallum’ which formed in mid-2023 to protect the rare ecology of the Wallum site, sought an urgent interim injunction under the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999), after attempted negotiations with Clarence Property broke down on 3 July 2024.

Justice Raper heard evidence from lawyers that sightings of the rare Wallum Sedge Frog were recorded in the area directly adjacent the proposed excavation works, and thus destruction of habitat in the area would inflict irreparable damage on the Wallum Sedge Frog. 

‘It shouldn’t have to fall on communities to go through this ordeal, just to uphold the law – but as is often the case it’s the community who are connected to the environment and each other who will fight for environmental justice in the face of our broken environmental laws,’ said Ms Higginson. 

‘I have personally written to both the NSW Planning Minister and the Federal Minister for the Environment, highlighting their responsibilities and powers when it comes to making sure that developments do not destroy matters of national environmental significance. Unfortunately, they have refused to act and have thrown away their responsibility to communities and the environment.

‘I find it abhorrent that governments have received report after report that our environmental laws are not only failing, they are driving the extinction of some of our most threatened wildlife and ecosystems, and yet when they have the opportunity to do something, they choose not to and instead pass the buck.

‘The Save Wallum community have worked tirelessly with courage in the face of environmental injustice. They have stood in front of earth moving equipment and peacefully stopped damage to this precious environment. Now they are in the courts, taking action where their government has failed,’ Ms Higginson said.

Byron Shire Deputy Mayor Sarah Ndaiye said that today’s win shows the power of community working together.

This is a huge win for our environment and our community. Everyone who wrote a letter, signed a petition, all the people who bravely took direct action, many for the first time, helped to achieve this victory. This shows what we can achieve when the planning system lets us down. The ruling by the Federal Court shows the importance of the community being able to challenge bad planning decisions and inappropriate development.

♦ The Clarence Property Group have been contacted for comment.


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9 COMMENTS

  1. This is wonderful news! The Court has recognised the importance of stopping the work before it is too late. Wallum Protectors knew this and stood for this. The broadest of community campaigns has been working around the clock. Bravo! Politicians must now also stand up against environmental destruction and stop further extinctions.

  2. To our nation and our natural native home. Our ancestors have live on these lands for thousands of years. Peacefully so respecting, nurturing and maintaining the land. These native animals which are very important to our people and our land. Have for thousands of years safe and now rare should be left alone.

    Our lands have been torn apart and over taken buy the ill care of humanity on this country. We would never take away these animals hones and we are traditional custodians of this land.

    These little coastal areas are the little parts of land left which are natural wonders to this area. We are the voices of this land so we are saying “NO”!!!

    STOP taking over our rights, our country and our native creatures.

  3. Our elders not only protected these lands but this as passed onto generation to generation. And it should be passed on, now if you keep taking this away. What will our children have left we will have nothing for them. And opportunity is lost for us but taken from you.

    So leave something for our people and not only us but other international people to learn about our culture.

    Kind regards

    Reginald Joseph Simmons

  4. Before comments role in about a snail and a frog being able to halt development of elite housing, I wish to state it is about more than that, it is about a remnant of a precious, intact unique healthy ecosystem of wetlands with coffee rock underground spongelike activity that prevents flooding which will occur on this site if it is destroyed. The perfect acidity at the right times in the wetland marshes has a relationship with the frog breeding cycle, which cannot be replicated by the developer whacking ‘ponds’ in. The story fails to mention the glossy black cockatoo with only a few left locally, that are integral within this space also. Anyone who thinks we are simply resisting a few trees getting chopped down, please come down and attend a tour to see for yourselves or join the Save Wallum fb group and see the amazing collections of photos taken by wonderful photographers of so many species of birds present on site, and the lush growth. The scribbly gums are truly magnificent. I had never seen such before. Some are hundreds of years old.

  5. FYI Here is a list of all important listed flora and fauna found in Wallum, Brunswick Heads, along with their scientific names, conservation status, and references: and dependent relationships
    1. Koala – Phascolarctos cinereus (Vulnerable) [1]
    2. Sugar glider – Petaurus breviceps (Least Concern) [2]
    3. Glossy black cockatoo – Calyptorhynchus lathami (Vulnerable) [3]
    4. Wallum froglet – Crinia tinnula (Endangered) [4]
    5. Australasian bittern – Botaurus poiciloptilus (Vulnerable) [5]
    6. Mitchell’s rainforest snail – Unassigned (Endangered) [6]
    7. Swift parrot – Lathamus discolor (Critically Endangered) [7]
    8. Regent honeyeater – Xanthomyza phrygia (Critically Endangered) [8]
    9. Wallum sedge frog – Litoria olongburensis (Endangered) [9] 10. Eastern grass owl – Tyto longimembris (Vulnerable) [10]
    11. White-throated needletail – Hirundapus caudacutus (Vulnerable) [11]
    12. Pale-vented bush-hen – Amaurornis moluccana (Vulnerable) [12]
    13. Large bent-wing bat – Miniopterus schreibersii (Vulnerable) [13]
    14. Southern myotis – Myotis macropus (Vulnerable) [14]
    15. Pink nodding orchid – Genoplesium nudum (Endangered) [15]
    16. White-bellied sea eagle – Haliaeetus leucogaster (Least Concern) [16]
    References: [1] NSW Department of Planning and Environment. (2022). Koala. [2] Australian Government. (2022). Sugar glider. [3] BirdLife Australia. (2022). Glossy Black-Cockatoo. [4] NSW Department of Planning and Environment. (2022). Wallum Froglet. [5] BirdLife Australia. (2022). Australasian Bittern. [6] NSW Department of Planning and Environment. (2022). Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail. [7] BirdLife Australia. (2022). Swift Parrot. [8] BirdLife Australia. (2022). Regent Honeyeater. [9] NSW Department of Planning and Environment. (2022). Wallum Sedge Frog. [10] BirdLife Australia. (2022). Eastern Grass Owl. [11] BirdLife Australia. (2022). White-throated Needletail. [12] BirdLife Australia. (2022). Pale-vented Bush-hen. [13] Australian Government. (2022). Large Bent-wing Bat. [14] Australian Government. (2022). Southern Myotis. [15] NSW Department of Planning and Environment. (2022). Pink Nodding Orchid. [16] Australian Government. (2022). White-bellied Sea Eagle.
    Fauna: Here are the fauna sources:
    1. Australian Government – Department of the Environment and Energy
    2. NSW Department of Planning and Environment – Threatened Species
    3. BirdLife Australia
    4. Australian Museum – Frogs
    5. Reptile Database
    6. Australian Government – Department of the Environment and Energy – Species Profile and Threats Database
    7. IUCN Red List
    8. NSW Department of Planning and Environment – Koala
    9. Australian Government – Department of the Environment and Energy – Swift Parrot
    10. BirdLife Australia – Regent Honeyeater
    11. Australian Museum – Insects 12. Butterfly Conservation Australia
    13. Moths of Australia
    14. Australian Government – Department of the Environment and Energy – Species Profile and Threats Database
    15. NSW Department of Planning and Environment – Wallum Froglet 16. Australian Government – Department of the Environment and Energy – Sugar Glider
    Flora:
    1. Pink Nodding Orchid (Genoplesium nudum) – Purpose: Food source for insects and pollinators – Animals that rely on it: Native bees, butterflies, and moths – Citation: [1]
    2. Byron Bay Diuris (Diuris byronensis) – Purpose: Food source for insects and pollinators – Animals that rely on it: Native bees, butterflies, and moths – Citation: [2]
    3. Square-stemmed Spike-rush (Eleocharis equisetoides) – Purpose: Habitat and shelter for small animals and insects – Animals that rely on it: Wallum froglet, insects, and small reptiles – Citation: [3]
    4. Noah’s False Chickweed (Cemolobus novae-zelandiae) – Purpose: Food source for insects and pollinators – Animals that rely on it: Native bees, butterflies, and moths – Citation: [4]
    5. Spider Orchid (Caladenia variabilis) – Purpose: Food source for insects and pollinators – Animals that rely on it: Native bees, butterflies, and moths – Citation: [5]
    6. Tuckeroo (Syzygium melanophilum) – Purpose: Food source for birds and small mammals – Animals that rely on it: Regent honeyeater, swift parrot, and sugar glider – Citation: [6]
    7. Three-veined Laurel (Cryptocarya triplinervis) – Purpose: Food source for insects and pollinators – Animals that rely on it: Native bees, butterflies, and moths – Citation: [7]
    8. Myrtle Ebony (Diospyros myrtle) – Purpose: Food source for birds and small mammals – Animals that rely on it: Regent honeyeater, swift parrot, and sugar glider – Citation: [8]
    9. Wild Quince (Alectryon subcinereus) – Purpose: Food source for birds and small mammals – Animals that rely on it: Regent honeyeater, swift parrot, and sugar glider – Citation: [9] 10. Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) – Purpose: Food source for birds and small mammals – Animals that rely on it: Regent honeyeater, swift parrot, and sugar glider – Citation: [10]
    11. Broad-leaf Lilly Pilly (Syzygium eucalyptoides) – Purpose: Food source for birds and small mammals – Animals that rely on it: Regent honeyeater, swift parrot, and sugar glider – Citation: [11]
    12. Riberry (Syzygium luehmannii) – Purpose: Food source for birds and small mammals – Animals that rely on it: Regent honeyeater, swift parrot, and sugar glider – Citation: [12]
    13. Stinking Cryptocarya (Cryptocarya foetida) – Purpose: Food source for insects and pollinators – Animals that rely on it: Native bees, butterflies, and moths – Citation: [13]
    14. Scented Acronychia (Acronychia acidula) – Purpose: Food source for insects and pollinators – Animals that rely on it: Native bees, butterflies, and moths – Citation: [14]
    15. Native Guava (Rhodamnia rubescens) – Purpose: Food source for birds and small mammals – Animals that rely on it: Regent honeyeater, swift parrot, and sugar glider – Citation: [15] 16. Scribbly Gum (Eucalyptus racemosa) – Purpose: Food source for insects and pollinators, habitat for small animals – Animals that rely on it: Native bees, butterflies, moths, sugar glider, and koala – Citation: [16]
    Citations: [1] NSW Department of Planning and Environment. (2022). Genoplesium nudum. Retrieved from (link unavailable) [2] Australian Government. (2022). Diuris byronensis. Retrieved from (link unavailable) [3] NSW Department of Planning and Environment. (2022). Eleocharis
    Here are the sources:
    1. NSW Department of Planning and Environment
    2. Australian Government
    3. NSW Department of Planning and Environment
    4. Australian Plant Census
    5. Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
    6. Australian Native Plants Society
    7. Queensland Government
    8. Australian Plant Census
    9. Australian Native Plants Society 10. Queensland Government
    11. Australian Native Plants Society
    12. Queensland Government
    13. Australian Plant Census
    14. Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
    15. Australian Native Plants Society
    16. University of Queensland

  6. As always, environment defenders have to the hard work as the weak State and Federal ALP just sit idle and spectate.

  7. This is the most wonderful information..it gives hope to the Rights of Nature. Thank you Protectors and Sue for legal determination.

  8. This shows just how low Australian politics has sunk. No longer do they govern for the people. It’s all about economics and corporations. Well done to the people. Is it time now to go further and shall I sharpen the guillotine?

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