Community meeting of Evans Head residents opposed to development at Iiron Gates.
Community meeting of Evans Head residents opposed to development at Iiron Gates. Susanna Freymark

Traditional owners ramp up fight against controversial development

"I'VE had enough," Simone Barker said at the community meeting on the banks of the Evans River on Sunday.

The Bundjalung woman was among more than fifty people gathered for their first meeting to plan how they can best oppose the 175 housing development at the Iron Gates site in Evans Head.

"It's a ceremonial site,"Ms Barker said. "There are two chief graves there and there were eight scarred trees and now only five are left."

Ms Barker's late father Lawrence Wilson was one of the people who led the High Court action against a former development proposal at Iron Gates.

"Aboriginal people have lost enough sites and we have to protect what we have for our children," Ms Barker said.

"How do we make a connection to country when our sacred sites are desecrated."

She promised that the custodial family would not give up on stopping the development.

Evans Head resident and founder of One Seed Social Lyndall Murray said she was leading a campaign to stop the Iron Gates development and they would meet every Sunday at 2pm in Kalimna Park in Evans Head.

The Ingles Group said it remained confident that its 'Vantage at Evans' 175-homesite on the 24.8-hectare river front site would win state government and council support.

The Ingles Group stated that it will not be selling any lots until development approvals for Vantage are in place and lot prices are yet to be determined.

Managing director Graeme Ingles Every said township along the NSW north coast, with the exception of Evans Head, was growing.

"If approved, Vantage will provide the catalyst for sustainable economic growth at Evans Head," Mr Ingles said

For the protest group, it's not only the cultural significance of the site but concern for losing the village atmosphere of Evans Head, the fragile wetlands causing environmental concern and the water quality of the Evans River which was recently rated as 'poor quality'.

"Under the plans before the council, all stormwater from Vantage at Evans will be collected in retention basins and swales within the site," Mr Ingles said.

"No stormwater will flow directly into the Evans River. The drainage systems to be employed at Vantage will represent the latest technology available."

Resident Ian Rankin said he wasn't against development but this one was in the wrong place.

"Evans River is already struggling," he said.

"If Evans Head is the jewel of Richmond Valley, the Evans River is its brightest facet."
















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