Planning process over West Byron totally bastardised

suburbiaI consider that the planning process for West Byron has been totally bastardised. It is a war of attrition eroding the site’s values at each step.

This community’s chance to safeguard the environmental values of West Byron has been squandered. Byron Shire Council’s DCP is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

At the zoning stage the Department of Planning decided to ignore the identified core koala habitat on the site, zoning some core koala habitat for housing, and locating the most intense development on and around the best habitat.

They said the DCP would take care of koalas, and include measures to reduce impacts, such as protecting core habitat, making swimming pools and fences koala friendly, reducing car speeds and controlling dogs.

Now council’s DCP is proposing roads and tracks through core habitat, allowing intense development around it, not including any mitigation measures, and has identified a koala corridor that avoids koala habitat. They say koalas can be dealt with later by the developers.

The developer’s fauna study identified core habitat for the nationally vulnerable Wallum Sedge Frog and said it would be totally protected, not in the rezoning but in the DCP. So it was zoned for housing.

Now council’s DCP is putting roads through the frog’s wetland and required buffers, saying the frogs can be considered later by the developer.

The DoP approved a massive drain through the site which will drain identified Acid Sulfate Soils, generating a flow of sulfuric acid and heavy metals into the Belongil estuary.

Rather than establishing controls to limit the drain’s impacts, Council’s DCP rubber-stamps it, saying that the developers can consider the impacts on acid runoff and the estuary later.

Similarly the developer’s traffic study identified a whole variety of road upgrades as required to cope with West Byron, with the roundabouts, the bypass and 4-laning Ewingsdale Road just the start.

Yet council fails to link the traffic increases associated with each development stage to the required road upgrades first being in place.

DCPs should provide detailed planning and design guidelines to support the planning controls in the LEP. Council should be setting parameters for a development that avoids impacts on koalas, Wallum Sedge Frogs and Wallum Froglets.

One that is not dependent on draining acid sulfate soils and using a quarter of a million tonnes of fill. Instead council has decided to rubber-stamp the developers plans and leave it up to them to work out the details later.

Given that the planning system has been so debased this is likely to be the only chance this community will have to shape the future of West Byron.

You need to tell council and councillors that this is not good enough.

Dailan Pugh, Byron Bay

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