Coalition intend NP link for Goolawah

Liberals unite with Greens to oppose coastal housing project

LOUISE HALL

April 22, 2010

THE NSW opposition and the Greens have united to oppose the government’s plan to develop pristine coastal land for 80 new houses at Crescent Head on the NSW north coast.

The government claims it can sell off the land for housing at Goolawah Estate based on a 1991 development application put on hold for two decades during a native title dispute.

The Minister for Planning and Lands, Tony Kelly, said the proposed development could go ahead despite an environmental assessment finding a significant amount of the estate contained an endangered species of paperbark tree, which was listed as a threatened species in 2004.

Mr Kelly said because the development application was granted before the swamp sclerophyll forest was listed as threatened, it was legally valid.

This week the opposition pledged to cancel the development and incorporate the land into the adjacent Goolawah National Park if elected next year. An environment spokeswoman, Catherine Cusack, said the government was trying to recoup the $6.1 million paid to the Dunghutti people in February as compensation for the acquisition of native title land.

”The land is an important wildlife corridor and is completely unsuitable for development,” Ms Cusack said. She disputed Mr Kelly’s claim that there was no other land suitable for development in Crescent Head, saying a private company, Portofino Enterprises, had been trying to subdivide mostly cleared land about 200 metres down the road from Goolawah.

The Greens MP Sylvia Hale called on the government to withdraw and declare the land protected. Locals, led by the Crescent Head Ratepayers and Residents Association, oppose the plan.

”The community believed the land was safe … but the minister’s not letting a few threatened species or endangered ecological communities stand in his way,” Ms Hale said.

John Jeayes, the secretary of the North Coast Environmental Council, said the estate was home to koalas, glossy black cockatoos, a threatened species of bats, black flying fox and old-growth grey gum and red gum. ”If you were conservative and reckoned the 80 blocks would reach say $250,000 per block that is a nice $20 million to fill up part of the hole in Labor’s treasury,” he said.

Mr Kelly said the plan was vital to tackle the shortage of land in Crescent Head. A spokesman for Mr Kelly said the government was ”investigating how development may proceed, taking into account the endangered species and environmental issues”.

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