Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Bundjalung elder Michael Ryan wins in NSW Land & Environment Court over North Lismore Plateau development application

Map showing AHIMs registered sites of Aboriginal cultural heritage value located at the southern end of the North Lismore Plateau land release site. Source: Converge Community and Heritage 2012 ‘North Lismore Plateau NSW Cultural Heritage Assessment 12043C/2012’ Figure 46 page 77
Lismore City Council, "North Lismore Plateau Urban Release Area", 2015

ABC News, 15 May 2020:

A major residential development underway on the New South Wales north coast is now in jeopardy after successful court action by a local Indigenous elder.

The Land and Environment Court has now ruled that approval of the development application was invalid, because no species impact statement was done.

Mr Ryan said he wept with joy when he heard the news.

"I didn't think we had any chance to win it, it was like a David and Goliath fairytale come true and we knocked them for six," he said.

"My old people told me a long time ago to protect this mountain with everything I had.

"This whole mountain is sacred, it's a story from the Dreaming … you can see in the landscape from the air the sleeping lizard."

Mr Ryan was assisted by veteran local activist Al Oshlack, from the Indigenous Justice Advocacy Network.

He said the case hinged on whether a species impact statement (SIS) should have been done for a site which is home to the threatened white-eared monarch and eastern long-eared bat.

"When they put in a development application, and it's going to have a significant impact on endangered species, it was up to the developer to attach the SIS with the development application," Mr Oshlack said.

"But then it became the [Lismore City] council's fault, because the council should have said that 'we can't accept lodging of this DA because it's not in the proper form'."

'They just rubber-stamped it'

The development application was approved by the Joint Regional Planning Panel in October 2018.

Mr Oshlack said he tried to raise his concerns at the time.

"They just rubber-stamped it," he said.

"During the hearing I yelled at them that we would be taking it to court and then [they] threw me out."…..

Work has already started on a housing development on the North Lismore Plateau, but the Land and Environment Court has ruled the approval invalid.(ABC North Coast: Bruce MacKenzie)

The development manager for the Winton Property Group, Jim Punch, said the court's decision came as a surprise to the developers……

Mr Ryan has said he will fight any future plans to develop the site, and will seek to have the land's heritage value formally recognised.

The matter will return to the Land and Environment Court later this month, when final orders will be issued.


* A Native Title Claim by Widjabul Wia-bal people was registered with the Federal Court of Australia on 28 August 2013, applicable to the land which is the subject of this Development Control Plan.

* Originally Lismore City Council accepted with regard to the North Lismore Plateau (NLP) "Measures to conserve the habitat and movement corridors of Echidnas, in acknowledgment of the cultural heritage significance of this species. The NLP land was historically used as an “increase site” for Echidnas by the local Aboriginals." See Lismore City Council, "North Lismore Plateau Urban Release Area", 2015.

No comments: