Biodiversity is our top priority
PROTECTING biodiversity and the environment was named the number-one priority for the Northern Rivers at a forum held in Ballina this week.
Providing more information about coal-seam gas mining, including an extension of the moratorium, was the second highest priority.
This was followed by regional transport and economic sustainability.
The forum, chaired by Ballina MP and Minister for the North Coast, Don Page, was held as part of the process to develop a regional action plan.
About 200 people attended, including MPs Thomas George, Geoff Provest and Chris Gulaptis, Byron Shire Mayor Jan Barham, several local councillors and Lennox Head-based MLC Catherine Cusack, along with representatives from local business and community organisations, and interested residents.
Mr Page said a diverse range of opinions was heard at the event.
"There were lots of good ideas that didn't make it onto the final list of the top-seven priorities for this region," he said.
"This includes things like the need for more affordable housing and cutting red tape."
Mr Page said that, in his opinion, the top priorities for the Northern Rivers were protecting the environment and creating jobs.
"We can have both," he said.
"But if we have a situation where the environment is seri- ously at risk, then maybe we don't have those sorts of jobs.
"We don't want to destroy what we love."
Mr Page said he was not specifically talking about CSG.
"We are still going through that process and I think we all need some more information before we make any decisions," he said.
"This is something that we absolutely must get right."
Northern Rivers Social Development Council chief executive Tony Davies was at the forum and said it was good to see issues such as transport being put on the agenda.
"The real test will come in how these priorities are delivered," he said.
Submissions can still be made on the website, www.haveyour say.nsw.gov.au.
WHAT SHOULD OUR REGION'S TRANSPORT PRIORITIES BE? SOUND OFF IN THE COMMENTS.