Zoning could see bushland sold off

A LARGE tract of bushland near Angels Beach at Ballina could be sold, developed or leased if Ballina Shire Council allows it to be zoned operational land in the new Local Environmental Plan (LEP).

The public exhibition period for the LEP was due to finish last Friday.

But the council’s strategic services group manager, Steve Barnier, said it had been extended by two weeks to give people more time to look at the vegetation maps for the Angels Beach land, near the Flat Rock Tent Park.

“In the draft LEP that land will remain as operational land,” he said. “That means, potentially, it could be sold or developed or leased ... there has been no decision to reclassify the land.”

Ballina Coastcare spokesman, Lee Andresen, said they wanted the land to be protected and classified as community land. A petition is now being circulated to nearby residents.

“The council has been good because they are going as far as the system allows to support public consultation,” Dr Andresen said.

“But people don’t realise that this land could be developed. This is the one time in 20 years that something can be done.”

Dr Andresen said the tract of land in question was environmentally important.

“It has littoral rainforest patches, which is a nationally endangered community,” he said.

“There are also sections of paperbark forest.

“It has high conservation value. Some parts are rough around the edges and those are places that we are working on all the time.

“We have to show the council the community is concerned about this.

“The people who bought their valuable properties in Angels Beach Estate bought them believing this land could never be built on.

“But it is the council’s private real estate and it could, in principle, be sold.”

Submissions on the council’s draft LEP now close on June 18.

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