Community forum against new LEP

NEARLY 100 people gathered in Ballina last night for a community forum on the shire’s draft local environmental plan (LEP).

Mark Byrne, education officer with the Environmental Defenders Office, and Ian Ratcliffe, its senior solicitor, addressed the meeting and expressed their concerns over some features of the plan.

A major objection to the proposed LEP involved the number of uses the council was allowing in an E2 zone.

Mr Ratcliffe said Ballina did not compare favourably with Lismore in this regard, or with other LEPs on the Northern Rivers.

“Ballina’s E2 zones allow way more types of development than any of the others,” Mr Ratcliffe said.

“This is a problem because the E2 zone is an attempt to protect biodiversity.”

As examples of possible risk, Mr Ratcliffe pointed to agriculture in an E2 zone.

“Under the new LEP, the State Government is not allowing a clause to prevent clearing,” Mr Ratcliffe said.

“This is significant because the Native Vegetation Act will apply, which states you can’t clear except for routine agricultural activities.

“If agriculture is allowed in an environmental zone, and the Act applies, there is little the council can do to prevent clearing.”

Agricultural status also allows for dwellings, and mining and extractive industries, ‘which very clearly do not enhance the ecological values of the land’, Mr Ratcliffe said.

Ballina MP Don Page was unhappy areas such as Pat Morton lookout, south of Lennox Head, would be zoned E2.

“It’s inappropriate, because that allows for bed and breakfasts and helipads,” he said.

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