Mayor of Byron Shire, Councillor Jan Barham.
Mayor of Byron Shire, Councillor Jan Barham. Northern Star

Template can undermine shire’s integrity

BYRON Mayor Cr Jan Barham has launched a strong attack on the State Government’s standard Local Environmental Plan (LEP) template which she says has the potential to undermine the the ‘integrity’ of future development in the shire.

“As a community we have struggled to maintain and determine the future character of the shire through our planning instruments,” Cr Barham said.

“Recent State Government planning processes have the potential to undermine the integrity of Byron Shire’s future developed environment.

“The requirement to adopt the standard template LEP could significantly reduce some of the major initiatives that have been introduced over the last 20 years. It’s not good enough for Byron and it’s not good enough for the state.”

Cr Barham said of great concern was the failure of the template to provide a coastal zone.

She said that previously coastal councils relied on a specific coastal zone that provided for the management of public and private infrastructure, biodiversity, amenity and access.

The absence of a coastal zone failed to recognise the unique values associated with coastal lands and the hazards that impacted upon them, she said.

“Byron Council has been an innovator in addressing coastal erosion and climate change adaptation with its planned retreat model,” she said.

“The State Government has failed to address climate change and the significant issue of sea level rise within its standard template LEP.

“With the accepted risks of climate change impacts, this failure by the state government can only be seen as negligence.”

A number of other concerns with the standard template were raised in a staff report to the council and included environmental management definitions and floor space ratio, as well as the cost to council to address the ongoing revisions from the government.

Cr Barham said the the staff report identified concerns with the standard template LEP and those would now be communicated to the Premier and to other councils to request changes.

“Without the changes to the template, it would be irresponsible to downgrade our current planning provisions just to meet the state requirement to adopt their inadequate template,” she said.

“Byron Council’s commitment to protecting biodiversity and the character of the shire have been long-term priorities. Council has defended its planning rules in the courts, undertaken research at considerable cost and consulted with the community to develop future strategies and plans.

“It would be unthinkable to adopt new planning rules that devalue our current rules and the shire’s future."

The council has resolved to write to the Premier to inform him of the concerns and Cr Barham will write to other councils seeking their support for amendment to the current planning regime and particularly the vital issue of the need for a specific coastal zone.

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