‘Fight that will never end’: North Lismore Plateau update
The battle over the North Lismore Plateau housing development is a fight that will never end, according to opponents.
Al Oshlack, researcher and advocate for the Indigenous Advocacy Network said the land meant too much to his client Mickey Ryan, Bundjalung Elders Council chairman, to let the fight go.
"This is too close to their hearts," Mr Oshlack said of the site the Bundjalung people consider sacred.
He said while the Winten Property Group had lodged a new development application for land at 55 Dunoon Rd, legal action was still being pursued through the Land and Environment Court to see the land rehabilitated.
In May, 2020, a DA for a 433-lot residential development was ruled "invalidly made, void and of no effect" by the Land and Environment Court.
The ruling declared the Winten Property Group, failed to submit a species impact statement with the development application.
Winten did not appeal the decision, but lodged a new DA for part of the land.
The new DA lodged in November was estimated to cost $8,608,157, and proposed subdividing two lots into 85 residential lots, two super lots, and two residue lots.
The exhibition period for the application ended on January 21.
Mr Oshlack said he believed the council had requested more information to assess the DA, including an Aboriginal heritage assessment.
He said any development on the land was inappropriate.
"It is the most inappropriate development," he said. "Just on planning issues, let alone the environmental and heritage issues - which are significant."
Mr Oshlack said it was "the biggest development since Goonellabah" and recent flooding highlighted issues surrounding the project and the ongoing impact of the land not being rehabilitated.
He said the new development will have one road in, and one road out, which would leave the estate isolated in the event of a flood.
"That road (Dunoon Rd) was two metres under water in 2017," he said. "And just this morning North Lismore was choked with traffic (because of flooding)."
Mr Oshlack also claims stabilisation work ordered by the council in November was not completed and resulted in erosion which has impacted Lismore Showground.
He said his organisation was still pursuing legal action to see rehabilitation work undertaken following the May Land and Environment Court decision.
Mr Oshlack said as the new DA had not been approved, he asked the Land and Environment Court to make the order for Winten to remediate the land, including removing the dirt road bank, reinstating the hill track, and filling in the pit at the top of the ridge where dirt was removed to build the road.
The battle seems doomed to be a drawn out affair, with the development already going before the courts three times.
Mr Oshlack said: "If a DA is approved, one way or the other, we will take it to court."
"If it's not passed, Winten will probably take it to court."
In the meantime, while the Fig Tree Estate website says the development is on hold, Lismore City Council's website says consent has been granted for a temporary sales office at the site.
Council has requested additional information from the applicant in relation to the proposed subdivision, a council spokesperson said.
"Once this additional information is received, council will finalise the assessment of the application," the spokesperson said.
"It is likely that the DA will be reported to an ordinary council meeting for determination in the coming months once the additional information has been received and the assessment is completed.
The additional information requested relates to the single access road proposed, ecological assessment, Aboriginal cultural heritage assessment, contaminated land assessment, landscape design and road intersection works.
Council's spokesman said he was unaware of any impacts on Dunoon Road and the Lismore Showground as a result of erosion/stabilisation work from the site at 55 Dunoon Road.
He also stated council was unable to comment on proceedings in the Land and Environment Court.