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Report on the Saltwater Project at South West Rocks

Report on the Saltwater Project  at South West Rocks

Last week Council conducted a meeting at South West Rocks to inform people about the Saltwater Part 3A development application process beginning with the necessary amended LEP to assist the development.


On Sunday, 19th October I attended the Residents Against
Inappropriate Development rally at Hyde Park in Sydney. There were
around 2000 representatives from different community groups all over
NSW but particularly the coast. There were banners from Coffs
Harbour, Mullumbimby, Hastings Point, Sandon Point, Currawong,
Wollongong, the Hunter coal towns and other places as well as groups
like the National Parks Association.
Those people had all travelled to express their opposition to the
hated Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act
legislation introduced by State Labor. They were addressed by several
speakers including Sylvia Hale, Brad Hazzard and Jack Mundey.

Part 3A proposals for "state or regional environmental planning
significance" include "critical infrastructure" or "major projects",
and require ministerial approval instead of approval at a council
level.
Reasons for considering a project under Part3A could be due to the
project´s economic importance, location, environmental impact or
because it would provide essential infrastructure. Basically it
turned out the Minister for Planning could call in any development
application within those wide limits, receive public comment on
social and environmental issues and then approve whatever he liked .
Previously the only opposition to these Planning changes came from
the Greens and some Independents.

Sylvia Hale spoke with passion at the Hyde Park meeting about the
correlation with developer political contributions which flowed into
Labor coffers just before the Part 3A introduction and increased
dramatically thereafter.

The new Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally, replacing the dumped
Frank Sartor, has revealed elsewhere there had been 900 Part 3A
approvals in just three years. There have been only a handful of
refusals in that time. Opposition spokesman on Planning, Brad Hazzard
MP, jumped on this fact, pointed to the lack of transparent
guidelines and promised a Coalition Government will immediately upon
election institute a full public review of planning laws and Part 3A
will be repealed.

Andrew Stoner has taken that position a step further and called for
the Labor government to repeal Part 3A now. There are communities
all over NSW praying for this now.

Without at least a moratorium, the part 3A the process will ensure
developers continue to sidestep local government Local Environment
Plans and community efforts to protect their lifestyle and
environment.

Last week Council conducted a meeting at South West Rocks to inform
people about the Saltwater Part 3A development application process
beginning with the necessary amended LEP to assist the development.

A very nice young lady from Council took the audience through the
steps but the meeting was emotion-charged and it was to the
participants´ credit that things went fairly smoothly. There was
anger that part of the subject area had been cleared already under
the Department of Natural Resources approval for ti-tree plantation
which never happened and was now presented as part of a money making
venture of 410 houses. Reportedly some preparatory work has already
commenced without due process.
Wildlife carers spoke of injured animals being treated and others
expressed concern for wildlife corridors, water pollution and
Saltwater Creek.
There was a general concern that the presentation had no
environmental information apart from some vague zonings and that
people were not allowed on site to see for themselves the area they
were discussing.
Climate Change was brought up and Great Lakes Council was mentioned
as planning now for predicted sea level rises of around 0.91m. That
estimate is at the lower end of "conservative" but Cr Betty Green
advised that Kempsey Shire Council´s contention is that they can do
nothing until the State Government gives direction.
They can reject the rezoning for a start. Council are fully aware of
the threat of Climate Change, as is most of the known world, and they
have no right to expose future ratepayers and Council to the
certainty of legal action to recoup losses.

It was pointed that already there was an oversupply of land and
residences for sale and considering the environmental impact and lack
of demand this area should not be rezoned for 2a development.
Council has a duty to the public, not some company from wherever.

There was not one single voice in favour of the development at this
public hearing. Not one proponent, developer, real estate salesman or
resident who could say they wanted this development. The people I
spoke to were determined to fight the proposal yet there was also a
sense of despair and resignation that in the end money would win and
the government will pass the thing no matter what the general
community wants, that they have lost the chance to determine their
future in this unfair process.


State Labor realise that they have lost the next election in two
years time. Their best bet is to put a moratorium on all Part 3A
developments while they review the planning laws before repealing
Part 3A themselves. This is their only chance of keeping the swing
below 30% and getting back within 16 years.

author John Jeayes
first published in
The Macleay Argus Nov 4
 

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