Legal fight costs $600K
TWEED Shire Council has been ordered to pay $600,000 towards drainage costs on land at Kingscliff after legal action by a developer in the NSW Supreme Court.
In her judgement on the case, Justice Patricia Bergin said the council had not acted in good faith in the way it dealt with the developer, Gales Holdings.
In the long-running dispute, Gales Holding was seeking damages through the NSW Supreme Court because stormwater flowing onto its land from neighbouring properties at Kingscliff made any development impossible as it introduced an endangered species of frog to the property.
Justice Bergin awarded damages to Gales Holding of $600,000 to construct drains to alleviate extra stormwater run-off from developments around the 27-hectare property.
However the court found the land owner was not entitled to damages for the loss of value of the land to be used as wallum froglet habitat.
To improve water quality to the endangered species' habitat, gross pollutant traps and energy dissipation structures were to be installed.
Gales Holdings boss Dr Stephen Segal declined to comment on the rulings.
A Tweed Shire Council spokeswoman said the council was waiting for a detailed analysis of the judgement to understand the full consequences of the rulings.
"Council won't be providing further comment until this more detailed advice is provided by the council's solicitors," the spokeswoman said.
Justice Bergin was critical of the council's handling of the issue of changes to stormwater runoff from neighbouring land.
She took aim at the council for accepting advice that Gales Holdings should bear the burden of stormwater management changes without providing the reasons to Gales Holdings.
"The defendant's conduct after the nuisance was brought to its attention in 2004 was in my view also lacking in good faith," he said.
"The plaintiff approached the defendant in a conciliatory fashion to see if they might find a 'solution' together.
"Rather than accept this approach the defendant called for a public apology and payment of large amounts of costs at a time when the defendant was still using the plaintiff's land as a retention basis at no cost to the defendant."