Govt changes bring plateau project a step closer

NORTH Coast councils have been sent back to the drawing board by the State Government's new rules on environmental conservation zones, but one clear winner in the shake-up is Lismore's long-awaited North Lismore Plateau development.

The proposed 1500-lot development has been given in-principle approval from the NSW Department of Planning and will now go on public exhibition for 28 days.

It's the first forward step since the council's plans were thrown into limbo thanks to the government's removal of e-zones across the North Coast in 2012.

E-zones, areas set aside for environmental management or conservation, had covered almost 30% of the development, with most of the remainder set aside for residential lots.

Their removal set in motion a successful court challenge in the Land and Environment Court by local Aboriginal elder Mickey Ryan which found the plateau's zoning proposal invalid due to a lack of community consultation over the removal of e-zones.

This week Planning Minister Rob Stokes finally announced North Coast councils were free to reinstate new e-zones under new, stricter guidelines which prevented e-zones from being imposed on any farming areas.

The announcement coincided with in-principle approval from the Department of Planning on the plateau zoning - with the original e-zones back in place.

It effectively makes the plateau's e-zones the first approved e-zones on the North Coast.

Lismore City Council executive director sustainable development Brent McAlister said the State Government had been "consistent" in delaying the determination on the plateau until it released its new rules on e-zones.

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