Anti-blueberry group seek urgent cessation of land clearing and intensive horticulture development

This intensive horticulture development is currently underway in Yarranbella, Nambucca Valley.

NAMBUCCA Environment Network (NEN) members were again a vocal addition to Nambucca Valley Council’s fortnightly meeting.

An associate of the group, Alan Manuel, used the public forum to ask for an urgent moratorium on new intensive horticulture developments while permission to permanently alter the rules is sought.

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Currently the Council is awaiting news on whether a request to alter Nambucca Valley’s Local Environment Plan (LEP) is to be approved by the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Paul Scully.

According to Council’s ‘Outstanding Actions Report’ delivered at Wednesday’s meeting, the Minister has requested further justification and resubmission of the planning proposal which was recently submitted by Council staff.

Mr Alan Manuel addressed Council, raising questions about whether the public has had a say in the planning proposal prior to submission and the possibility of a moratorium being immediately placed on future intensive horticultural buildings and land clearing.

“Why has Council not sought to pass a motion to request interim approval from the Minister?” Mr Manual asked the assembled Councillors.

“I mean Council is always passing motions, why could it not pass a motion to ask the Minister: ‘Can you give us interim approval to put the moratorium in?’.”

Councillor David Jones immediately called for a report into more specific details of the planning proposal and if a temporary and urgent moratorium on any form of development (ie. land clearing, net and tunnel construction etc.) for intensive horticulture enterprises can be enacted.

Mr Manuel also complained that development application (DA) assessment times in the Valley are frequently drawn out, mentioning the case of a retirement village construction project which is awaiting approval from Council.

“There’s a retirement village which you are aware of.

“One of the providers of that is now subject to foreclosure potentially because he has been delayed and now impacted by the blueberries,” he said.

The plans of this retirement village development have reportedly been affected by the recent sale of adjoining land to blueberry growers and the matter has a direct connection to Mr Manuel.

Mayor Rhonda Hoban offered a defence of Council’s record on DA assessment times.

“I think it should be publicly reported that according to the Office of Local Government, Nambucca Valley is way ahead of Clarence, Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Kempsey and Port Macquarie by a country mile on our DA assessment turnaround times and the State average is 110 days while Nambucca Valley’s is 38 days.

“The usual issue is an incomplete or not well-prepared application or hold-ups with (other) government agencies,” she explained.


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