Drain to swallow up environmental zones at West Byron

MEDIA RELEASE 30 September.

Byron Residents’ Group (BRG) is alarmed that the developers for West Byron are seeking to put a massive drain for the site through an (E2) environmental zone. West Byron is a drained wetland and the main drain that already runs through it was originally proposed by the developers to be enlarged to enable run off from the development.
The developers are now seeking to amend the Local Environmental Plan (LEP) at tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) Council meeting which, if passed, would allow them to put a new drain for the site in an area that is zoned environmental.

“Essentially what this proposal seeks to do is move major infrastructure into sensitive areas so the developers wouldn’t have to put it in the area zoned for housing, thus enabling maximum housing yield” says Cate Coorey, President of Byron Residents’ Group.

“The amendment the developers are proposing is so broad and would allow so much in the E2 zones that the aims and objectives of the environmental zonings could not be maintained. The zoning of West Byron is environmentally damaging enough, adding insult to injury by trashing the E zones is a bridge too far.
“Constructing drainage lines through environmental zones will involve vegetation loss and changes to the water table. The resulting changes to, and fragmentation of, habitat may affect threatened species.
“Council should not allow this amendment to go ahead. The kinds of infrastructure work that are planned for this site will have far-reaching consequences into the future, particularly when it comes to the potential damage that run-off from the site could have on Belongil Creek.
“The location of any drainage works can not be properly determined until a thorough Acid Sulfate Soil Management Plan for West Byron is in place, since the required depth of the main drain intersects the Potential and Actual Acid Sulfate layers already identified on the site.
“The state government’s decision to rezone West Byron was an appalling one, given the problems that beset the site – any further watering down of the environmental values on the site should be rejected.
“What is clear from this proposed amendment is just how bad the West Byron LEP is. In pandering to the West Byron Landowners’ proposals and failing to independently assess and plan this site using basic planning principles and requirements, the Department of Planning (DoP) has given us a layout that doesn’t even work as a connected cohesive development in terms of providing infrastructure.

“It is farcical that we now have to discard the rules governing our protected areas because the DoP planners got their lines tangled.
“Council should stand strong on asserting the inviolability of the environmental zones. We should be rescuing what we can from the mess that is West Byron, not enabling the developers of West Byron to worsen the situation.”

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