Aboriginal Elder wins court case to protect environment
The Lismore Council and NSW Department of Planning decision to remove environment protection zones from the environmental plan that will allow the development of the North Lismore Plateau has today been ruled invalid by a court after legal action by Aboriginal elder, Michael Ryan.
05 June 2015
EDO NSW, on behalf of Mr Ryan, challenged the validity of the changes made to the Local Environmental Plan in the NSW Land and Environment Court.
The last minute amendments removed the only legal protection for important plants, animals and Aboriginal cultural heritage. The Environmental Plan originally protected 28.5 per cent of the 255 hectare North Lismore Plateau site. The rest of the rural land was mostly zoned for housing development.
The environmental protection zones had been included in the original proposal for the Local Environmental Plan amendment and were publicly exhibited by Lismore City Council. They were intended to protect Aboriginal heritage sites and areas of environmental value. These zones included regenerating lowland sub-tropical and dry rainforest, which provide habitat for threatened fauna, such as koalas, the Rose-crowned Fruit-dove, and threatened microbat species, as well as sites containing the rare native plant species, Thorny Pea and Hairy Joint grass.
The environmental protection zones were removed, apparently due to the Department of Planning’s ongoing review of the use of environmental zoning by councils in northern NSW.
Mr Ryan objected to the removal of the environmental protection zoning due to its potential impact on the cultural heritage and environment of the North Lismore Plateau. The basis of his objection related primarily to the fact that the Environmental Plan that was made was fundamentally different to the one everybody thought was being made and as it was publicly exhibited.
Mr Ryan argued that given that no opportunities for public consultation were provided in regard to the fundamentally altered Local Environmental Plan amendment, there had been a failure to provide procedural fairness to the community as the law requires.
CONTACT: EDO NSW Principal Solicitor Sue Higginson 0428 227 363