LETTER: West Byron battle won but war is far from over
WHEN the Northern Regional Planning Panel announced their final decision to reject the Site R&D (local landowners) DA they were greeted with a standing ovation at the packed Byron Theatre.
It is reassuring that the overwhelming local opposition to West Byron was cited as one of the reasons for refusal.
This is in part a victory for people power, for all those who contributed their time to the campaign over the past decade, who attended rallies, made submissions and packed panel meetings.
While we are yet to see the 20 reasons for refusal, it is clear a consideration was the failure of the developers to assess the health of the Belongil estuary and the impact of the development upon it. Both the council and Fisheries NSW expressed strong concerns about the impacts of storm water and pollutants on the estuary and these concerns were reiterated as primary concerns by the panel.
The council assessment also supported community concerns about koalas and the likely elimination of the wallum sedge frog.
Unfortunately the council did not view the developer's estimate of a 66 per cent increase in traffic on Ewingsdale Rd or the proposed 4m-high concrete noise barrier atop metres of fill along the road as problems. They need to recognise these are major concerns and stop pretending the diversion of 7-20 per cent of traffic around town will compensate for the increase caused by West Byron.
While we have won this battle, it is far from over. The first conciliation conference of the Land and Environment Court for the council's deemed refusal of the Site R&D DA has been arranged for February 12. The Villaworld DA is likely to be considered by the Northern Regional Planning Panel in April and it too is likely to go to court if refused.
This refusal by the Joint Regional Planning Panel demonstrates why the decision by NSW Minister for Planning Pru Goward to ignore community concerns and impose this unwanted development upon us was ill-considered.
Unfortunately, while West Byron remains zoned for this scale of development, it is only a matter of time until a proposal is tweaked enough to be approved.
It was a political decision that imposed West Byron upon us and we need a political decision to fix it. We need to demand of those aspiring to represent us at the next state election to identify how they are going to fix this festering problem if elected.