TWO DECADES AGO: Dozens of residents were detained on October 29, 1999, after protesting a controversial land development in Byron Bay.
TWO DECADES AGO: Dozens of residents were detained on October 29, 1999, after protesting a controversial land development in Byron Bay. Gary Chigwidden

Development blockade remembered 20 years later

MORE than 60 people were detained on October 28,1999, after protesting a controversial land development in Byron Bay.

Council then halted work at the Detala site at Patterson Street, as the controversial site is a piece of heatland behind Tallow Beach which contains a rare native orchid.

20 years on, former protesters like Byron's Veda Turner, are preparing to celebrate the events at Pacific Vista Drive that led to the protection of the ecosystems at Paterson Hill.

Turner said the campaign heated up in 1999 as the DA passed by the Land and Environment Court was about to lapse.

"On October 28, vigilant campaign volunteers noted a low-loader with an excavator moving towards the Pacific Vista Drive development site. In a very short time the road was blocked as the truck driver attempted to reverse up the narrow street," he remembered.

"A day-long protest culminated in much of the combined police force of the North Coast being brought into the operation, 60 activists being taken to the Byron Bay Police Station with nine arrested.

"Later all charges were dropped, as the developer was in breach of the DA consent conditions," Turner said.

As the excavator seemed to have made it through, Byron Councillor Richard Staples climbed onto the excavator arm, Veda Turner explained.

"As he was entitled to set up his Councillor office anywhere in the shire, he knew the police could not remove him. Only the vehicles owner (in Brisbane) could do so. This gave time for a Council injunction to be organised and and work halted. In the months following a negotiation with the land owner lead to the land being bought for inclusion in the Arakwal National Park," he said.

  • A celebration of the blockade will be held at the Marvell Hall in Marvell Street, Byron Bay, from 2pm on Sunday, October 27. Contact Doug Luke on 0458 550 951.


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