By GARY CHIGWIDDEN
The Gerry Harvey-backed $45 million Byron at Byron tourist resort development at Byron Bay has now hit more than the snag over effluent disposal plans reported exclusively in the Byron News back in October.
With approval still needed from Byron Council to dispose of effluent from the resort on the nearby golf course, Mr Harvey last week withdrew the 92-apartment resort from the market.
His announcement came only weeks before the resort was due to open.
According to the Northern Star, Mr Harvey now plans to use the resort for conferences with guests houses in the resort's apartments - but he still has to get a final council sign-off for the resort to do that.
Byron Mayor, Cr Jan Barham, said it had to be remembered that the original development proposal for the site was opposed by the community and the council.
Cr Barham said the development, incorporating an on-site sewage treatment system, had been approved by the Land and Environment Court.
"We now learn that the developers have not undertaken the necessary works to fulfil this obligation," she said.
"The developers are presenting a proposal that the best environmental outcome is for the effluent to be disposed off-site on the golf course land and will present a modified application for this to the council.
"The basis for this change is that the site's groundwater is too high and the disposal of the effluent will pose environmental harm.
"This is the argument council had originally presented to the court as a reason for refusal of development on this site."
Cr Barham said the situation illustrated how difficult it had been for the community to protect areas of significant sensitivity and encourage appropriate development.
She said the Land and Environment Court operated in a manner that allowed developers to present theoretical information that circumvented objections.
Developers proceeded with changes and then presented a modified application to the council, she said.
Said Cr Barham: "In this case it is the eleventh hour and a fundamental alteration by Byron at Byron is being proposed.
"It is an ongoing frustration that some developers are unwilling to comply with their approvals, but take advantage of this area's environmental protection reputation and use it as a marketing tool for their commericial gain even though they subvert core environmental principles."
As reported in the News in October, extensive works - at Mr Harvey's expense have already been carried out on the golf course to accommodate the effluent, but the council ordered work to stop.
An application from the developers to use tertiary effluent for toilet flushing was due to be debated at this week's council environmental planning and local approvals committee meeting.
Planning staff recommended the application be refused because of an unacceptable risk to public health.
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